John Hubbel Weiss writes: Despite its rhetoric condemning the Syrian regime, there is … reason to doubt that Washington really wants Assad to fall. Assad’s regime is “the devil we know,” and one with demonstrated weaknesses: Witness its expulsion from Lebanon and its defeats by Israel. At the same time, it has a professional and mostly loyal army and an identifiable and mostly loyal power base in one-fifth of the population: the Alawite and Christian minorities.
The Free Syrian Army and other adversaries of Assad are far less professional and unified, with a possibly far more volatile power base, the country’s Sunni Muslim majority.
Nor does the American and UN response to the Sudanese government’s atrocities give Syrians cause to hope for a rescue. Senators Lieberman and McCain have called for giving military support to the Syrian rebels. Despite the fact that in Darfur alone the Sudanese government under Omar al-Bashir has caused the death of nearly a 100 times more civilians and created 80 times more refugees than Assad has done in Syria, the United States has never seen fit to arm Darfur rebels.
Elie Wiesel has called for Assad to be charged with crimes against humanity. Although such a charge would serve as a gesture of moral concern and solidarity with the Syrian people, it would probably not deter the Syrian president from continuing his attacks. After all, an International Criminal Court indictment for genocide has not caused any change in the intensity of Sudanese president Mr. Bashir’s 22-year-long string of atrocities against the people of Darfur, the Nuba Mountains, Abyei, the South, and elsewhere in Sudan.
It is more than likely, therefore, that an assessment of American and international policy toward intervention in the Libyan and Sudanese cases will do little to shake the Syrian government’s confidence that it can continue down a path of the most ruthless repression.
The Syrian people themselves, with an enduring courage that has prompted a growing but still small number of high Syrian officers to abandon the regime, are the only ones who will convince Assad it is time to choose a less murderous path.