Home
In this issue
December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 21, 2011 / 19 Tamuz, 5771

Why Bashar al-Assad matters to the West--- and what the Obama administration still doesn't grasp

By Clifford D. May






The Great Alawite Hope's ouster would be consequential. So, too, his survival


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Syria does not sit atop an ocean of oil, as does Saudi Arabia. It does not have a huge population, as does Egypt. It does not wield economic and military clout like Turkey's. But under the oppressive rule of Bashar al-Assad, Syria has been the primary agent of Iran's ruling jihadis within the Arab world. It has been the patron of Hezbollah, the militia that has been carrying out a slow-motion coup in Lebanon. And it has been a welcoming host to Hamas and other terrorist groups whose most immediate target is Israel.

Over the past four months, Syrians have been taking to the streets in courageous displays of defiance, demanding the resignation of Assad and an end to the dynasty begun by his father, Hafez al-Assad, 40 years ago. In response, the regime's security forces have killed as many as 1,600 men, women, and children. Almost ten times that number have been arrested. And yet, to the surprise of many, the protesters refuse to be suppressed.

If Assad falls, the Arab Spring becomes a much sunnier season. Hezbollah and Hamas would be weakened. Lebanon would have another chance. Israel would feel a little safer. Most significantly, in the words of Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former officer in the CIA's Directorate of Operations and a Middle East analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), "The world will look a lot more precarious to supreme leader Ali Khamenei and a lot more hopeful to the millions behind Iran's pro-democracy Green Movement if Bashar al-Assad goes down. The importance of Syria to Iranian foreign policy and internal politics cannot be overstated."

Do President Obama and his advisers get this? For years, Assad has been what one might call the Great Alawite Hope. The Alawites are a Shi'ite offshoot and a minority within Syria — under 15 percent of its 22 million souls. Orthodox Shi'ites have sometimes denounced the Alawites as heretics. Among the reasons: Alawites proclaim the divinity of Ali, the Prophet Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, and don't strictly observe the customary Muslim prohibition on alcohol. But Tehran's theocrats are tolerant of those who pay obeisance and serve their interests. Consider Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, their favorite infidel. Where is it written that fanatics cannot be pragmatic?


FREE SUBSCRIPTION TO INFLUENTIAL NEWSLETTER

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". A SOPHISTICATED examination of faith, culture and politics. Sign up for the daily update. It's free. Just click here.


Assad himself is a curious figure: a 45-year-old British-educated ophthalmologist who inherited his father's power after his older, smarter brother died in a car accident. His wife, Asma al-Assad, is more likely to wear Prada than a burqa. Indeed, in March she was the subject of a Vogue profile that gushingly called her "A Rose in the Desert," "glamorous," "very chic — the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies."

Vogue neglected to ask her to comment on her husband's oppression at home, his support for terrorism abroad, his request that the pope apologize for the Crusades, or his charge that the Jews tried to murder Muhammad.

But then, how many Western diplomats and politicians have pressed these issues? For years, Arlen Specter, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, and other leading lights of Congress were convinced that Assad was a moderate — or at least could be induced to become more moderate. Assad also has been viewed as the key to a settlement of the Arab/Israeli conflict. The basis for such visions was never apparent.

They persisted even after the toppling of Saddam Hussein, when Assad welcomed terrorists from all over the Muslim world and then sent them over the border to spill American and Iraqi blood.

Only a month ago, President Obama was calling on Assad to lead "a transition" to democracy. More recently, and especially after Assad's thugs on July 11 attacked the U.S. embassy in Damascus while Assad's security forces averted their eyes, American rhetoric has hardened a bit. Now Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are saying Assad "is losing legitimacy" and is "not indispensable."

Stronger medicine is needed if the U.S. is to assist the astonishingly brave Syrians who are fighting and dying to oust Assad — an outcome that is unambiguously in the interests of the United States and the West in general. To that end, the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), whose board of directors includes William Kristol, Robert Kagan, and Dan Senor, last week issued a "fact sheet" of "five steps to hasten Assad's exit."


  • The first is for President Obama to "unequivocally" call for Assad to step down, as he did when Egypt's Hosni Mubarak — whose misdeeds never approached those of Assad — became the object of widespread protests.

  • The second is for the U.S. to impose much tougher unilateral sanctions and work for serious multilateral sanctions on Assad, his family, and his cronies, and to push for U.N. Security Council condemnation of the regime. As Tony Badran, a Levant expert at FDD, wrote, "The United States, along with Britain and France, is halfheartedly seeking to overcome Chinese and Russian objections to a Security Council resolution condemning Assad. . . . The position of the superpower, after all, matters."

  • The third step is to withdraw the U.S. ambassador from Syria and expel Syria's envoy from the United States. Ambassador Robert Ford has done a commendable job — his visit to Hama, where protests were mounting, is what precipitated the assault on the U.S. embassy. But as Elliott Abrams of the Council on Foreign Relations noted, unless Ford is now willing and able to ratchet up his "public displays of disgust with the regime and its behavior . . . there is no point in his remaining in Syria."

  • Fourth, the U.S. should energetically support Syria's referral to the U.N. Security Council for stonewalling the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has been trying to investigate Assad's nuclear program — revealed only when the Israelis, in 2007, destroyed a plutonium-producing nuclear reactor secretly built with North Korean assistance.

  • Fifth, the U.S. could be encouraging Turkey to apply pressure on Assad. As FDD's Gerecht has also pointed out, Turkish public opinion has turned against Assad, making this the moment to challenge the strength and wisdom of Ankara's "nonsectarian, pro-Muslim, 'neo-Ottoman' policy."

  • I would add this: The U.S. should directly (though perhaps covertly) assist the liberal opposition movements in Syria. In recent days, Syrian dissidents have received secure communications technology — but from private sources, not the U.S. government.


It also would be helpful to increase both economic and diplomatic pressures on Iran and to support the Green Movement by providing its members as well with secure communications technology. The more Iran's rulers are concerned about dissidents at home, the less they will be able to assist Assad, who has been their Great Alawite Hope too: the living, breathing, murdering proof that it is possible for Arabs to accept Persians as leaders of the Muslim world and of the Grand Jihad against the West.

Assad's ouster would be consequential. So, too, would be Assad's survival. If there are any strategic thinkers inside Obama's White House, Clinton's State Department, and what is about to become David Petraeus's CIA, they will grasp that — and act upon it.


Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Interested in a private Judaic studies instructor — for free? Let us know by clicking here.

Comment by clicking here.

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism. A veteran news reporter, foreign correspondent and editor (at The New York Times and other publications), he has covered stories in more than two dozen countries, including Iran, Pakistan, Sudan, Ethiopia, China, Uzbekistan, Northern Ireland and Russia. He is a frequent guest on national and international television and radio news programs, providing analysis and participating in debates on national security issues.



Previously:


07/07/11: MAD in the 21st Century >





© 2011, Scripps Howard News Service