No Asset to the Region

It's time for the United States to stop equivocating on Syria and make clear that it's time for Bashar Assad to go.

For months, the Assad regime has employed brutal tactics to quash its nascent opposition, killing hundreds of its own citizens and committing human rights abuses in the process.

The argument that Assad provides a bulwark of stability in an increasingly chaotic region is erroneous. While it is sometimes true that it's better to stick with the devil you know, in this case the devil has descended far too deeply into the bowels of the underworld to merit any support.

This was a point emphasized this week by Israel's ambassador to the United States. Rejecting reports that Israel would prefer Assad to stay in power rather than risk an unknown successor, Ambassador Michael Oren said Israel could "scarcely conceive of anyone more devilish than Assad."

Speaking by videoconference to a group of local pro-Israel activists gathered at the Federation's Community Services Building, Oren cited the Assad regime's well-known material and moral support for the terror groups Hezbollah and Hamas, its efforts to develop nuclear weapons and its alliance with Iran as principle reasons why Assad is no asset to the region.

It used to be said that Assad provided a modicum of security, enforcing a quiet border with Israel along the Golan Heights. But that, too, is no longer true, as evidenced by this past weekend's storming of the Israeli borders by Palestinian protesters, an action the Syrian regime clearly backed and reportedly even instigated by offering money to those who participated.

Syria continued its historic role as the most implacable foe of the Jewish state by allowing the penetration of Israel's borders on Sunday, while Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan reportedly took precautions to thwart a repeat of earlier border protests and deadly confrontations with Israeli forces.

While there is disagreement over the number of casualties from the violence, there is little doubt that the Syrian agenda with such provocations is to divert attention from the brutal repression against its own people.

In an official complaint lodged at the United Nations this week, Israel urged the international community to warn Syria that "such provocations carry serious potential for escalation and must cease completely."

The Obama administration has crept close to the edge, with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton noting that Assad has "lost his legitimacy." But the time has come to state unequivocally that it is time for him to go.

It is not clear whether a clarion U.S. call for Assad's removal would have much impact. But at least we would go on record that we will not tolerate tyrants who terrorize their own people and support terror around the world.



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