Twisting Assad’s arm

A little over two years ago, I had to leave my eight-year career as a journalist in Damascus because of a report I had written on the Syrian opposition that the regime didn’t like. Since arriving in Washington, I’ve had the pleasure to share views on the Syrian regime with well-meaning U.S. officials charged with ...

JOSEPH BARRAK/AFP/Getty Images
JOSEPH BARRAK/AFP/Getty Images
JOSEPH BARRAK/AFP/Getty Images

A little over two years ago, I had to leave my eight-year career as a journalist in Damascus because of a report I had written on the Syrian opposition that the regime didn't like. Since arriving in Washington, I've had the pleasure to share views on the Syrian regime with well-meaning U.S. officials charged with engaging my former home base. But it's become something of a mantra in Washington -- as the regime has perpetrated a brutal crackdown on opposition activists -- that the United States simply has no leverage in Syria.

But after sitting through countless discussions about President Bashar al-Assad and his Alawite-dominated government -- especially since the protests erupted in recent weeks -- it is now clear to me that the problem isn't a lack of leverage, but the strategy being used.

Read more.

A little over two years ago, I had to leave my eight-year career as a journalist in Damascus because of a report I had written on the Syrian opposition that the regime didn’t like. Since arriving in Washington, I’ve had the pleasure to share views on the Syrian regime with well-meaning U.S. officials charged with engaging my former home base. But it’s become something of a mantra in Washington — as the regime has perpetrated a brutal crackdown on opposition activists — that the United States simply has no leverage in Syria.

But after sitting through countless discussions about President Bashar al-Assad and his Alawite-dominated government — especially since the protests erupted in recent weeks — it is now clear to me that the problem isn’t a lack of leverage, but the strategy being used.

Read more.

Andrew J. Tabler is senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and author of In the Lion's Den: An Eyewitness Account of Washington's Battle with Syria.

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