Syria’s silent purge

A few weeks ago, Kate wrote presciently here on Passport that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad was the real winner during the current Iran debacle, evading the international community’s notice as he cracked down on dissenters. In fact, Assad has taken the opportunity and run with it, jailing a prominent human rights attorney and political journalists in ...

608477_assad8.jpg
608477_assad8.jpg

A few weeks ago, Kate wrote presciently here on Passport that Syria's Bashar al-Assad was the real winner during the current Iran debacle, evading the international community's notice as he cracked down on dissenters. In fact, Assad has taken the opportunity and run with it, jailing a prominent human rights attorney and political journalists in the last several weeks. Their major offense: Signing the May 12 Damascus-Beirut Declaration, a document endorsed by hundreds of Lebanese and Syrian journalists and intellectuals calling for Syria to normalize relations with Lebanon.

Simon Tisdall, in today's Guardian, explains how Assad is getting away with it

Explanations of the regime's new bullishness lie largely beyond its embattled borders and, paradoxically, owe much to US policy choices. Washington's enthusiasm for regional democracy was tempered by Hamas' election victory in Palestine. The ensuing crisis there has in any case distracted attention from Syria, as has nascent civil war in Iraq. And then there is Iran, America's next big thing.

A few weeks ago, Kate wrote presciently here on Passport that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad was the real winner during the current Iran debacle, evading the international community’s notice as he cracked down on dissenters. In fact, Assad has taken the opportunity and run with it, jailing a prominent human rights attorney and political journalists in the last several weeks. Their major offense: Signing the May 12 Damascus-Beirut Declaration, a document endorsed by hundreds of Lebanese and Syrian journalists and intellectuals calling for Syria to normalize relations with Lebanon.

Simon Tisdall, in today’s Guardian, explains how Assad is getting away with it

Explanations of the regime’s new bullishness lie largely beyond its embattled borders and, paradoxically, owe much to US policy choices. Washington’s enthusiasm for regional democracy was tempered by Hamas’ election victory in Palestine. The ensuing crisis there has in any case distracted attention from Syria, as has nascent civil war in Iraq. And then there is Iran, America’s next big thing.

Isolating Tehran means inducing Syria, one of its few Arab allies, to stand back. Though it would not admit it, Washington needs Mr Assad.

Carolyn O'Hara is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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