President Barack Obama has been sleepwalking through one of the biggest crises in the Middle East since the 1967 six-day war. All have been touchy situations that call for great leadership but unfortunately our country has been completely devoid of such. Syria could very well be the next country to fall to protests, but it won’t be easy. The leadership will most certainly crack down on any such protests more ruthlessly than Gadhafi in Libya. In fact it’s already starting.
“Escalating violence between Syrian security forces and anti-government protesters claimed 15 people Wednesday in the city of Daraa, witnesses and rights activists said. Syrian state television reported the government fired the governor of Daraa province, a flash point of anti-government protests.
Syria has been in an emergency state of rule (SEL – State of Emergency Legislation) since March 8, 1963. Amnesty International claims:
“…has resulted in thousands of suspected political opponents being detained, tortured and held incommunicado without charge or trial, some for over two decades. Others have been convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms after grossly unfair trials before military or state security courts.
“The SEL allows the Syrian authorities to restrict the right to freedom of expression by permitting the censorship of correspondence, communications and information media. It also allows for the establishment of special courts for the trial of state security and political cases without recourse to ordinary court procedures and guarantees.”
The word “Orwellian” comes to mind the more you read about Bashar-al-Assad, who is nothing more than a butcher, and his repressive regime. Their Baath Party is the same party of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Our President dropped the ball when he had a chance to aid a rebellion in Iran. He dragged his feet on Libya, resulting in the deaths of possibly thousands. He refused to even pick a side in Egypt. He has barely acknowledged the strife in Bahrain, Yemen, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia.
It’s almost like the Middle East can sense the weakness of our President (much like they did with Jimmy Carter). They know he won’t make any real decisions of consequence one way or another. That weakness is giving strongmen like Gadhafi and al-Assad the freedom to crackdown on their own people. At the same time it’s emboldened protesters to rise up against American friendly regimes, like in Egypt, without fear of American influence in the process.
The Middle East is a very complicated situation, but we need a President to make some sort of decision on the matter.