The Syrian Leader's Curious World

(New York Times) Editorial - Bashar al-Assad seems to have a rose-tinted view of Syrian reality. Unless he quickly begins to recognize the increasingly desperate situation Syrians face as a result of his family's failed policies, it is hard to see how he can make needed changes. Assad disingenuously claims that there would be no problems between Syria and the U.S. were it not for Israel. That is hard to swallow just months after Syria's lax policing of its border with Iraq may have permitted hundreds of Arab fighters to cross over and join attacks on American troops. It also overlooks Syria's persistent attempts over the years to manufacture, buy, or trade unconventional arms, including chemical and biological weapons and long-range missiles. Syria has a long and nasty history of sheltering and cooperating with not only Lebanese Hizballah guerrillas but also international terrorists. In his interview, Assad argued that the Iraqi people should choose their government through elections. This admirable suggestion would carry some weight if he tested it out first in Syria, where free elections are never allowed and where open political discussion has become an almost certain ticket to prison.

2003-12-03 00:00:00

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