Sanctions aren't enough; Assad must go
Syria's brutal crackdown on anti-government protests has sparked demonstrations around the world, as seen here in Turkey.
May 18th, 2011
03:15 PM ET

Sanctions aren't enough; Assad must go

Editor's Note: Michael Young is opinion editor of The Daily Star and author of The Ghosts of Martyrs Square: An Eyewitness Account of Lebanon’s Life Struggle, published by Simon & Schuster and listed as one of the 10 notable books of 2010 by the Wall Street Journal. He tweets @BeirutCalling.

By Michael Young - Special to CNN

The U.S. sanctions that have just been imposed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are useful, but not enough.

Assad’s regime has lost all legitimacy. It cannot continue in power. Something is fundamentally broken in Syria, and the time has come to ask the president to leave office. The United States can, and must, put together a road map to bring about this outcome. Rather than focus on sanctions, in his Thursday speech President Barack Obama should call for Bashar al-Assad to step down. He demanded the same of Hosni Mubarak, who was responsible for killing far fewer of his own people.

U.S. officials have been saying they have little leverage over Syria.  That’s nonsense. The reality is if anyone has leverage over Syria, it is the United States. However, leverage is something you need to build up. You don’t just pick it out of the ether.

The way to develop leverage on Syria is to mobilize an international coalition to isolate the Syrian regime, and convince it that its time has come to depart. This is essential in order to avoid a further exacerbation of sectarian tensions in Syria, which the Assad regime has manipulated to heighten the prospects for violence, in that way saying: "It’s either us in power or chaos." Sectarian conflict could affect neighboring states with mixed societies, above all Lebanon and Iraq.

First, the Obama Administration should convince the Arab countries – above all Saudi Arabia and Egypt - that they need to encourage change in Syria as a means of weakening Iranian influence in the Levant. Both have a great incentive to go along with this, and would welcome, finally, an American strategy to contain Tehran’s influence.

Russia and China can also be swayed to support Assad’s departure. Remember, both countries allowed sanctions against Iran, a country far more vital to their interests than Syria. They have argued against condemnation of Syria at the Security Council on the grounds that the situation there does not constitute a threat to international peace and security. But Assad's brutal methods are heightening sectarian tension, which in turn risks spreading across Syria’s borders.

If that does not constitute a threat to regional stability, therefore international peace and security, nothing does. Their reluctance to condemn the Syrian regime’s brutal crackdown is increasingly inexcusable.

The European Union, with the British and the French taking the lead, can also be brought around to impose sanctions on Syria. Indeed, both countries are now working to prepare a resolution on Syria at the UN Security Council. German resistance is not likely to be enough to block broader European agreement, especially after Germany was recently embarrassed for refused to stand against Libya’s regime.

But this package has to be broader than just isolating the Assads. It must involve persuading the Syrian ruling family to leave the country, even if officials must be held accountable for their crimes. Turkey can play a key role in this process, The regime does not necessarily want to want to fight to the last man, and its members may recalculate once they see that they are isolated regionally and internationally.

I don’t believe that the Syrian opposition is sectarian; it is not solely a Sunni phenomenon, and definitely not a Salafist phenomenon. Demonstrators have faced weeks of live ammunition peacefully, without resorting to sectarian mobilization. However, the regime has done its best to exacerbate sectarian relations, and unless this is curbed soon, there is a real risk of an uncontrollable deterioration of the situation, and therefore of communal relations. An opposition that has behaved in so responsible a manner, with great courage, surely merits to be given a chance to put together a democratic, sovereign Syria.

So the U.S., along with the Arab states and the international community, needs to develop a road map for a smooth transition in Syria – one aimed at ensuring that the Syrians determine their fate as soon they can. Change has swept across the Arab world. Now it’s Syria’s turn. Obama has to take the lead in showing Assad the door.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Michael Young.

Post by:
Topics: Diplomacy • Middle East • Strategy • Syria • United States

soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Liberal87

    I agree, these sanctions are not enough! Assad HAS to leave power... Even if he "wins", the people who have been affected by his crackdown will never, ever trust him and his regime anymore.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      It is difficult to figure out what Assad is like! Is he a callous tyrant or an enlightened leader under duress. If he is callous, than he is a wolf in sheep's clothing and the West shouldn't be duped by his well-groomed appearance and good manners. Another assumption is that the military and intelligence forces in Syria have hijacked the executive body of the country for the pursuit of their particular interests and Assad is just the figurehead. It is not surprising that the U.S. is taking a firmer stance on Syria after having been criticised for its inconsistencies in dealing with other countries in the region.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Reply
    • John Gilbert

      Note Petro-Canada (Suncor) pro Assad picture ad at http://www.syria-oil.com (bottom left).

      The English version of it is at http://www.syria-oil.com/en/ that links to Suncor website.

      See Arabic example of it at http://www.syria-oil.com/e3lan/2011/petro/petroJPG.jpg

      See English example of it at http://www.syria-oil.com/e3lan/2011/petro/petroJPGEN.jpg

      May 19, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Reply
  2. Michael Moon

    Good piece, and I agree with most of it. However, I don't buy your assertion that Egypt would go along with an American strategy to isolate Iranian influence. The military government is normalizing relations with Tehran, and recently stated that the "Islamic Republic is not our enemy". I believe the generals in Egypt would push back against any such American strategy.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Reply
  3. biased

    I keep hearing one sided arguments for change on CNN. This opinion in particular has no merit as it talks about demanding change in order to curb Iran and establish the US's goals for the region. The only reason one should want change is if it benefits the syrian people themselves. Any loss of human life is unacceptable, however if some protestors are armed – that no doubtedly escalates the chances of violence during protests. As for the protests as whole, everyone should have the right to protest peacefully – However, in a population of 22million one should not automatically make it seem as if the protestors (who number at 200,000 under most genourous estimates) represent the population. If we look for regime change every time 1% of the population is unhappy – then Tea Partyers should be ruling the US. Having lived in Syria for 18years, and having many syrian friends currently in syria – I know first hand that it is not like 90% of the population hate the regime (as it is made to seem in most of the media). If I were to estimate – half the population actually support the regime (christians, alawites, and most of the middle and upper class are avid supporters), while a majority of the remaining population just want stability over revolution.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Reply
    • Yalianina

      Thank you very much for your sensible comment. I agree with you 100 %. I am Syrian-American, and I know that most of what you hear in the media is fabricated, including some of the video clips and photos. Yesterday the German TV showed images of so called brutality against prisoners in Syria, which turned out to be in Iraq, during Saddan Husain 's time in power, and they had to retreat and apologize. All the sensible people in Syria want reform, but we don't want Choas and we definitely we don't want the Islamists, who consider women a shame, and schools and universities prohibites, and they want to kill all Shiias and deport the Christians to lebanon, as per their last announced sloagans

      May 18, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Reply
    • Mohamad Lotf

      I don't know where you are getting your information from,those few thousand protesters you are talking about are protesting under gunfire ,just imagine that the Syrian regime allowing people to protest peacefully without shooting at them ,arresting them ,or cutting off electricity,water ,or food supply .now how many people you think will demonstrate freely.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Reply
  4. Syrian

    I get really concerned when people like Michael and others write about Syria. They are not Syrians. They cannot care less about Syria and Syrians. And they still want to dictate how the Syrians should live or think. CNN has lost some legitimacy as they only publish one sided opinion.
    Syrian Society is a complex society. There are many sects, religions and nationalities in Syria. Life there is in a sophisticated balance. Congressmen Joe Lieberman, Marco Rubio and others think that they know how Syrians should live while they are 5000 miles away.
    In order to make a better understanding of the Syrian Society needs you need to talk to representative of all this society. I mean Muslims sunnies, Muslims Alwite, all Christians, Drooz, Muslims Shiite, Jewish, etc.
    Reading your website seems that you are only listening to one side’s opinion.
    Please be careful because what you are doing is going to change the lives of millions in Syria and not necessarily to the better.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Reply
    • Enough is enough

      Finally!!! God Bless America.

      Assad has to leave power, but NOT the country. He needs to be tried in the ICC along with all of his party members. The blood of Syrians will not be forgotten. Syrians deserve a better life than they are living in now–freedom, freedom, freedom.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Reply
      • Syrian

        A better life is always the hope and dream. But a gradual change to democracy -in my opinion- is a better way as it will come with more tolerance with it.

        May 18, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
      • Yalianina

        Which blood you are talking about. The innocent people slaughtered by the Islamists, or the army membered who were slughtered with their family by the gangs and armed groups from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Lebanon. You can fool some people all the time but you can not fool all people all the time. Stop your hatred. Probably you are one of the so called opposition figures, who are descredited and being paid by the Saudis and Qataris, to live here and conspire against other countries.

        May 18, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • Another Syrian

      I agree with you that many politicians and commentatotrs in the West lack adequate understanding of the dynamics behind the current events in Syria. Furthermore many of them are probably persuing their own agendas when discussing the crisis and suggesting remedies but we have to remember that what we have at core here is an illegetimate regime that took power by military coup in 1963. The current president was simply installed by his daddy's falks to keep the status que and the Syrian people had to deal with this bull for few decades. They are now simply fed up and they want the situation to change, the regime being very sclerotic and still thinking and acting in the mentality of East Europe in 60's and 70's responded in very predictable way by shooting hundreds of civilians and kidnapping thousands; this response itself is an exhibit A of how the regime is out of touch with the current world and how his ways and means are expired. If the regime still has any regard for its people then then it should leave NOW.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Reply
    • EDJ

      Mr. Syrian: I am very sorry to tell you that Mr. Young, Mrs. Young or even the young Ms. Young and many others can speak for the Syrians. Do you know why!? Becuase the Syrians, Sir, are either in Assad's big jail called |Syria or being crushed by his tanks and his criminal militia called Shabiha. Do youself a favor, do not call youself a Syrian because you are no not a Syriant!!!

      May 22, 2011 at 2:39 am | Reply
  5. biased

    Ideally, the violence stops stops immediately (as do armed members of the protests) – and then an election is scheduled for later in teh year with members of the arab league to look over it to make sure its fair.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Reply
  6. Me too Syrian

    To my fellow Syrian

    Few points to consider:

    We are all brother in humanity and yes, American, French and everybody else have the right to object when crimes against peaceful human being are commited.

    A lot of people believe the American and Westerners in general may CARE much more about Syria than you think. They clearly do care about Syria more than the bunch of thieves who have been rubing all its resources for a LONG TIME NOW.

    All societies have complexities and particularities. Syria is no exception. However, the instead of starting a true unity effort to ensure a peacefull transition that may allow Shiites and Sunnis to feel secure and comfortable with the other presence and collaborate with them, they go on operessing them in a style that resembles the Mongols ways of governing.

    What they deal with and failed to confront, they called it a lie. A conspericy, every body is against them.... enough of all this dirty propoganda. Enough lies...

    Every humain life is valuable and should be protected. The regime is wasting our brothers lifes as if they were flies. This is sad.... way too sad...

    Reflect on this for a second before restarting another bout of proganda.... We need to coexist and feel safe

    May 18, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Reply
    • Syrian

      I am sorry if I angered you. That was not my intention. I cannot agree with you more that every single life is important. We ALL can live peacefully together and that is all what I am asking for.
      I disagree that overnight change is good. A gradual change is the way to go.
      I am from a minority and I do have a concern of what an overnight change would carry with it.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Reply
      • Me too Syrian

        Me too from a minority..... and we are at the year 2011. The Shiite-Sunni querelle starte 1500 years ago.... time to fix it I guess.

        And it is not being fixed from what I am seeing. It is only getting BLOODIER..... So how can we have ever hope, if we can not even confront our problem and keep saying "conspiricy"

        May 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • Yalianina

      If your point is true, why after two months only few thousands are demonstrating, and with less intensity, after discovering the big conspiracy from the regional and international power to break Syria, into multiple regions. We don't want another Iraq, and I believe that tru reforms are being implemented, since the emergency law was abolished, and all non violent prisoners were released, and the government was changed. It is a joke that we even included the new government members in the sanction, when it just took office after changing the old one. What a farce. If Obama, which I supported vividly during the campaign, thinking that he will be smart and independent, and not being told what to do and what to say, if he is true to himself, he should call on the King of Bahrain, to stop slaughtering his people (90 % they don't want his rule), and he should ask the Saudi forces to leave Bahrain, and stop killing innocent people, then I will respect him again.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Reply
      • Another Syrian

        Because people are very very very scared to express your political opinion in Syria. Those who took it to streets risked a lot. Many of them are now dead and many were kidnapped by the regime's Security Branches. Every single protestor in Syria represents thoudands of scared-to-sillence presons. All revolutions started with few people then it snowballs and you see more and more people join. If Syrians have any real Freedom then you will see most of the 23,000,000 tomorrow on streets chanting for Free and Democratic Syria.

        May 18, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
  7. Al

    Looking from away, some are doing their best at next "Gadhafi must go" campaign.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Reply
  8. Onesmallvoice

    It's Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton who need to go,not Bashir al Assad. These right-wing bullies in Washington are utterly nauseating with their unmitigated arrogance and self-righteousness. But I guess that Obama will be reelected next year thanks to the ignorance of the people!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Reply
    • John

      I totally agree with you,Onesmallvoice. Thank you.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Reply
  9. Tsmith

    Is the U.S., similar to the Bay of Pigs, attempting to overthrow one government after another in the Middle East with the assistance of France, Great Britain, and NATO? On what basis does the U.S. government, the media, and this administration arrogantly decide which countries are legitimate, demanding their leaders to step down contrary to their national sovereignty and in violation of international law?

    I am not surprised that Russia feels threatened by this illegitimate intervention by the U.S., NATO, CNN, and the various other U.S. News media organizations. What right does CNN have to determine any legitimate form of government– his is ethnocentric and arrogant, and it presupposes some standard by which one determines a democracy is the sole legitimate form of government.

    The media across the board, and CNN in particular, appears to be engaged in an alleged effort of undermining foreign governments in the middle east and it appears to be participating in an alleged attempt to overthrow these governments raising the question of bias and legitimacy. The news organizations, CNN in particular, are siding with any opposition to the established governments thus undermining those foreign governments contrary to their national sovereignty. The international community should investigate any bias or any otherwise undue influence in the media leading to the ultimate overthrow of any government in the Middle East.

    It is a mistake to assume that Muslims countries are willing to embrace a Western form of government. The particular religious, social, and cultural narrative in the Middle East is different from that of the West. Calling their narrative “fundamentalist” is pejorative. It is a disparaging and demonstrates Western ethnocentrism, but it also demonstrates Western ignorance of the Middle Eastern perspective and narrative.

    “The Pew Research Center survey of Muslim attitudes, (“Views of Harsh Punishments" Q108b-d, Dec. 2,
    2010), showed that of Egypt's 90% Muslims: 82% favor stoning people who commit adultery; 77% favor whipping/cutting off of hands for theft and robbery; and 84% favor the death penalty for people who renounce Islam.

    The comparable percentages, BTW, even in a “moderate” country like Jordan were, among its 92% Muslim population: 70%, 58% and 86% respectively.

    In the same survey, 54% of Egyptians also felt that suicide bombings can at times be justified (45% in Jordan).

    In other words, the vast majority of those Arabs are (what the West pejoratively calls) fundamentalists who are interested in an Islamic tyranny of the majority – NOT (Western) democracy that is based upon absolute equality and intellectual and civil freedom for all.

    And together with fundamentalist Islam goes the absolutely uncompromising attitude that Israel must be eliminated, not negotiated with, so that Israel – and the rest of the world – can be Muslim ruled. Like the Hamas charter plainly states:

    "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."

    Those interested in true democracy and compromise in the Arab world are, very unfortunately, a small minority...” FrankLW CNN commentary, , 2011, May 18.

    If only a few are in fact concerned with democracy, the U.S., CNN, and the West are mistaken to engage in covert operations or media propaganda to undermine governments in an attempt to form Western democracies.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Reply
    • FrankLW

      Absolutely; couldn't have said it better myself. Hmm, I did say that myself, but DO feel free to quote me at will and continue spreading fact and reason...

      November 27, 2011 at 4:11 am | Reply
  10. Tsmith

    I would argue the U.S. has no legitimacy, nor does CNN nor any spokesman from CNN, to suggest any government in Syria is not a legitimate form of government. I would also argue as I will here, the U.S. is not legitimate in its conduct toward the middle east and I call upon Congress and the international community to investigate CNN and sanction the United States for its overreaching involvement in the Middle East.

    Assassination and related covert operations are prohibited by executive order 12333 and they are in violation of article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter.

    The executive branch has removed Habeus Corpus, the presumption of innocence, due process, allowing for essentially indefinite detention without trial, and the U.S. has reinterpreted the law to allow for assassinations in peace time in violation of both U.S. executive order 12333 and the U.N. charter, and they have ignored the Geneva Convention in the "war against terrorism".

    I call upon the President to release all audio and video tapes of the alleged crime of assassination and murder of bin Laden, keeping with his campaign promise of transparency. If the audio and video are not released on the internet and to the international community, any claims to transparency is and was hypocrisy or simply a lie. Unedited tapes allegedly ordering the execution of bin Laden should be made available to the public, the U.N. and to congress for investigation and analysis. Congress must no longer be impotent in holding the executive branch responsible for illegality and irregularities in covert and non-covert operations.

    I call on congress to call hearings on the alleged murder of bin Laden and U.S. covert operations and other involvement in overthrowing governments in the Middle East.

    I also call on the U.N. Human Rights court to sanction the U.S. for assassinating bin Laden and evading due process in time of peace. The war on terrorism is an unjust war, it is a manufactured war created by the U.S. executive branch to evade international law in peace time and avoid due process. Might does not make right. The end does not justify the means.

    It is time for the U.N., Congress, and the international community to step up and fulfill its responsibility in holding the executive branch responsible for targeted murder and participating in the overthrow of governments in the Middle East.

    Assassination and related covert operations are prohibited by executive order 12333 and they are in violation of article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter. The executive branch has removed Habeus Corpus, the presumption of innocence, due process, allowing for essentially indefinite detention without trial, and the U.S. has reinterpreted the law to allow for assassinations in peace time in violation of both U.S. executive order 12333 and the U.N. charter, and they have ignored the Geneva Convention in the "war against terrorism". Therefore, Obama like a Chicago mob boss executed bin Laden disregarding due process– this is the allegation, and if true, this is in violation of U.S. and international law.

    It is no different than vigilante justice, which by definition is no justice at all. If justice is obedience to the rule of law, by breaking the rule of law, this administration and all previous administrations have by definition committed an unjust act. Targeting killing is an unjust act of murder in the case of political leaders and the unarmed bin Laden.

    The law prohibiting assassinations was reinterpreted not to apply to terrorists or other leaders in the 1980s allowing for targeted killings of political leaders and their families as collateral damage. The U.S. removed all Geneva Convention rights for terrorists, allowing torture and murder by assassination of an unarmed individual in wartime, maintaining there is a war against terrorism. When this U.S. Administration maintains there is no war against terrorism then they are in violation of the the U.N. charter prohibiting assassinations during peace time.

    The executive branch has allegedly broken the law, and if this is the case, by definition this administration has committed an unjust act in the alleged murder of bin Laden without due process.

    Again, the U.S. government has removed Habeus Corpus, the presumption of innocence, evaded due process, allowing for essentially indefinite detention without trial, and the U.S. has reinterpreted the law to allow for assassinations in peace time in violation of both U.S. executive order 12333 and the U.N. charter, and they have ignored the Geneva Convention in the "war against terrorism".

    If these allegations are proven to be true, this means Obama is ultimately responsible for disregarding the rule of law and by definition this Administration has committed an unjust act of murder by executing bin Laden without due process and without a presumption of innocence, ignoring U.N. international human rights prohibiting such assassinations, and the Geneva Convention in time of war.

    I therefore call upon congress to call hearings on the issues expressed. Also for the international community to sanction the U.S. involvement in the Middle East, its repeated overthrow of governments in the Middle East, and the alleged assassination of bin Laden. I also request a full investigation of CNN and any undue influence upon the media organization by this Administration, covert or otherwise.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Reply
  11. non nocere

    How exactly are we supposed to believe all the accounts of these Syrian Human Rights activist when non of them live in Syria, and all the video stream we get is dubious at best. Isn't that what lead us to trouble in Iraq in the first place? I completely agree with 'Biased' comment, and give no merit to the opinion of Michael Young. If these people truly want human rights, go fix the problems in Rwanda, Congo, Kenya, or any other African nation. The stuff these Activist are reporting makes no sense. Army using snipers instead of head-on combat of protesters, Give me a break. And why is CNN unable to confirm any of these published reports. They ran to cover Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and every other major incursion right away, but can't with Syria.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Reply
  12. Yalianina

    I don't know if Mr. Young is stupid or igmorant, but I have a question for him, since when the USA can tell any president of a soverign nation to leave office, when more than 90 % of his people is behind him, and believe in his announced reforms. I supported Obama for a long time, but he is becoming another, smarter W with ignorance of the rights of other nations, and being a toy in the hands of the Saudis and Israelis alike. If you go beyond the mainstream media, you will find that most of the deaths in Syria occurred in the security forces and the military, when violent gangs, armed with machine guns, RPGs...etc started attacking army posts, police stations...etc and them murdeing innocent people, who happen to be from a different sect than the Islamists, which call themseleves "The salafists". It is a joke that Mr. Young thinks that Saudi Arabia should suppport the change of leadership in Syria, since they are responsible for the violence, through their discredited Prince "Bandar Ben Sultan", who assigned 6 Billion dollars to change Syria into another Islamist country, like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Syrian president immediately abolished the emergency law, which was in effect for over 48 years and released all political presoners, and changed the government, but he was not given a chance by the armed opposition, whom real purpose is to creat a choas and establish their Islamic Khalifate in Damascus, as per the Muslim Brotherhood propaganda. After two months of turbulence there are less than few thousands demonstrators all over Syria, which have over 23 Million people, so do you want their will to trounce the will of the majority, who are behind the president, and don't belive your corrupt media outlets, here in the West, and Al-Jazeera in the East. Final point for Mr. Young, where is your concern about the people in the Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, where women can not even drive, and they are being arrested for trying to vote, and most importantly in Bahrain, whre over 90 % of the people do not want their King, but we are allowing him to crush, with the help of the Saudi army, with complete silence by us. Double standard, you bet !

    May 18, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Reply
  13. Yalianina

    I don't know if Mr. Young is stupid or igmorant, but I have a question for him, since when the USA can tell any president of a soverign nation to leave office, when more than 90 % of his people is behind him, and believe in his announced reforms. I supported Obama for a long time, but he is becoming another, smarter W with ignorance of the rights of other nations, and being a toy in the hands of the Saudis and Israelis alike. If you go beyond the mainstream media, you will find that most of the deaths in Syria occurred in the security forces and the military, when violent gangs, armed with machine guns, RPGs...etc started attacking army posts, police stations...etc, and then murdeing innocent people, who happen to be from a different sect than the Islamists, which call themseleves "The salafists". It is a joke that Mr. Young thinks that Saudi Arabia should suppport the change of leadership in Syria, since they are responsible for the violence, through their discredited Prince "Bandar Ben Sultan", who assigned 6 Billion dollars to change Syria into another Islamist country, like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Syrian president immediately abolished the emergency law, which was in effect for over 48 years and released all political presoners, and changed the government, but he was not given a chance by the armed opposition, whom real purpose is to creat a choas and establish their Islamic Khalifate in Damascus, as per the "Muslim Brotherhood" propaganda. After two months of turbulence there are less than few thousands demonstrators all over Syria, which have over 23 Million people, so do you want their will to trounce the will of the majority, who are behind the president, and don't belive your corrupt media outlets, here in the West, and Al-Jazeera in the East, the people are really behind him there. Final point for Mr. Young, where is your concern about the people in the Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, where women can not even drive, and they are being arrested for trying to vote, and most importantly in Bahrain, where over 90 % of the people do not want their King, but we are allowing him to crush them, with the help of the Saudi army, with complete silence by us. Double standard, you bet !
    So the question for everyone, would you allow armed groups to take over cities and called it their "Emirate", and wouldn't want the army to intervene if the people are being forced to be part of this Choas by the armed gangs ? Waco...anyone

    May 18, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  14. marat

    What UTTER NAIVETE this author has penned. The reality is that these uprisings throughout the Middle East will NOT usher in some kind of "Age of Democracy" in Islamic regimes/states. In fact, I believe there is the likelihood of GREATER Tyranny reigning in the near future. Take Egypt as a good example. Obama and the press jumped all over Mubarak, which was totally a stupid move. Consider: Mubarak for ages forbid the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist Genocidal group from gaining power. Hamas, a poster child of a Terror Group that drove out the PA in Gaza through a bloody coup, is the scion of the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran's proxy thugs. Meanwhile, OBAMA has virtually invited the Muslim Brotherhood to enter elections in Egypt. Duh...HITLER was VOTED into power. HAMAS, which has sent thousands of rockets into Israel (despite not having a single Israeli on their land) was initially voted in over the PA. In a poll last year, more than 80% of Egyptians expressed support for the EXECUTION of Homosexuals, Adulterers and ANYONE who converts to another religion (i.e. non-Muslim). So much for democracy, tolerance. As soon as Mubarak stepped down, Egypt INVITED Iran to sail its warships through the Suez Canal and also spoke openly about tearing up their decades-old treaty with Israel. Israel gave the entire Sinai to Egypt as a reward way back. Now it faces another enemy front. If Muslims do not have "infidels" (non-muslims) to go after, they will go after each other. It is a bellicose theo-political ideology and has NEVER embraced the concept of actual democracy, or power vested in the public rather than its so-called elite clerics. The future is one of ultimate war in the area with Israel to start...and then probably Iran horning in on the action where it can gain a political advantage. Assad, in essence, is totally irrelevant. Tyranny will reign supreme, one way or another in Egypt–probably worse once the Muslim Brotherhood begins to impose fascist "Sharia law" on the population it will control.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Reply
  15. Yalianina

    Yalianina

    I don't know if Mr. Young is stupid or ignorant, but I have a question for him, since when the USA can tell any president of a sovereign nation to leave office, when more than 90 % of his people is behind him, and believe in his announced reforms. I supported Obama for a long time, but he is becoming another, smarter W with ignorance of the rights of other nations, and being a toy in the hands of the Saudis and Israelis alike. If you go beyond the mainstream media, you will find that most of the deaths in Syria occurred in the security forces and the military, when violent gangs, armed with machine guns, RPGs...etc started attacking army posts, police stations...etc, and then murdering innocent people, who happen to be from a different sect than the Islamists, which call themselves "The salafists". It is a joke that Mr. Young thinks that Saudi Arabia should support the change of leadership in Syria, since they are responsible for the violence, through their discredited Prince "Bandar Ben Sultan", who assigned 6 Billion dollars to change Syria into another Islamist country, like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Syrian president immediately abolished the emergency law, which was in effect for over 48 years and released all political prisoners, and changed the government, but he was not given a chance by the armed opposition, whom real purpose is to create a chaos and establish their Islamic Caliphate in Damascus, as per the "Muslim Brotherhood" propaganda. After two months of turbulence there are less than few thousands demonstrators all over Syria, which have over 23 Million people, so do you want their will to trounce the will of the majority, who are behind the president, and don't believe your corrupt media outlets, here in the West, and Al-Jazeera in the East, the people are really behind him there. Final point for Mr. Young, where is your concern about the people in the Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, where women can not even drive, and they are being arrested for trying to vote, and most importantly in Bahrain, where over 90 % of the people do not want their King, but we are allowing him to crush them, with the help of the Saudi army, with complete silence by us. Double standard, you bet !
    So the question for everyone, would you allow armed groups to take over a city and called it their "Emirate", and wouldn't you want the army to intervene if the people are being forced to be part of this Chaos by the armed gangs ? Waco...anyone

    May 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Reply
    • marat

      Many thanks for a coherent and cogent post. Obama was SILENT nearly on Iran's march towards a nuclear arsenal and dispensed with the military option early on. He will be remembered as the Chamberlain of his time–his forte is to bash or lie to a slew of previous U.S. allies (Israel, Britain, Japan, Czechoslovakia) while having virtually nothing bad to say about most of the Islamic world–and even pulling off the biggest arms deal in U.S. history with the most tyrannical (and truly apartheid) regimes in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia: No Jews allowed; No Bibles allowed; No other religion than Strict Islam allowed; no women permitted to work in close proximity to males; homosexuals periodically executed and women denied the vote; and, for more Islamic joys, there are even "Muslim Only roads." ISLAM is what is at the root of these uprisings; it is at the ROOT of who rules these regimes/states and the oppression of their societies on multiple levels. I ceased looking at Islam as a true "religion" long ago, after reading the Koran, realizing it was actually a theo-political ideology. This ideology is STILL embraced in all of these states that are experienced discontent. So much so, that most people would be shocked to listen to the attitutudes of the vast majority of the populations of these states. But the author of this article above seems to think that the zeal of Americans and Europeans to shed these tyrants is what all of these "democracy" placard carrying young people desire. The institutions to further such a lofty ideal, SIMPLY ARE NOT PRESENT. But most of all, MY claim is that ISLAM ITSELF WILL NEVER allow for any genuine democratic rule because Islam is both Totalitarian in its STRICT laws and is NOT about to undergo a sanitized, revised edition anytime soon. The Courts of both INDONESIAN and Egypt, just within the last few years, BOTH sentenced two men to Death for the Crime of converting to Christianity. Meanwhile, Christians have been SLAUGHTERED left and right in Egypt this past year–Obama? He is SILENT about this. I have my OWN beliefs why this is and believe he has a TERRIBLE time of being critical of Islamic regimes/behavior in general. Just this past year, he FORBID his ENTIRE staff from using the terms "Muslim Terrorist" or "Islamic Terror." Man, talk about denial of Reality, not to mention free speech. I don't recall the last time a blue-eyed, blond-hair Swede hijacked and blew up an airliner. Or a Jew. With a worldwide Epidemic of Islamic Jihad (an exciting sport for many Muslims), it is extraordinary to watch Obama's near passivity. Perhaps others here can tell me....WHY? Why could he not support the 80% or so of Americans who were OPPOSED to the Islamic attempt to build a Mega-Mosque just blocks from the 9/11 site? Particularly when the bodies of more than 1000 individuals were never found, incinerated to ashes by jet fuel in that barbarity. Those ashes are scattered EVEN throughout the site where this symbol of Islamic Supremacy was chosen as a location (despite Mayor Bloomberg offering any number of other Locations to the organizers, all of which were turned down).

      May 18, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Reply
      • H. B.

        Most of what you say is valid. You've read the Quran, for which I wholeheartedly congratulate you. Have you also studied the Hadith? That's the other half of Islam. I've studied them, and the rest of Islam (after Muhammad died), since 1994, and I know it better than many Muslims do. Your conclusions about Islam are somewhat incomplete, but essentially accurate. Mine have to be incomplete too – there's so much to be said.

        I do think you need to cut Obama some slack. Most Americans have not done the homework you and I did. Most of them still think Islam – or at least Muslims – is peaceful, benign, tolerant – even moderate! You and I may know better, but most people do NOT, including, it seems, President Obama. Aside from being as "sucked in" to the prevailing views of Islam as everyone else is, he has something else to consider: Your opinions about losing Mideast oil. If WE could give it up, if WE could do without that oil in order to deal with Muslims the way we need to, things would be very different.

        He's a scholar. Studying comes naturally to him. Still, he may not have applied it to Islam. But even if he had, what's he supposed to do? Tell the world that neither the present regimes nor those "glorious" rebels are remotely interested in rights and freedom? And what, precisely, would be the reaction of most Americans if he said or did something that cut off our Mideast oil? How do you spell "lynch mob"? In truth, WE are as much of the problem as Muslims are.

        Obama is a superb strategist. He had to be to win the presidency. One of his best traits is an ability to wait patiently while others put egg on their faces, and only responds to them sharply when they've painted themselves into corners. Remember how he did that before? So there remains a possibility that he may already have DONE his homework on Islam, but knows that it's wise not to reveal it yet. He has come through so profoundly well for the American people that I'm quite willing to give him the slack he needs on this extremely important issue. But I do disagree, emphatically, with supporting those rebellions, even to sending troops in to help them. The countries that did that will have egg on their faces when the Muslim Brotherhood takes over Egypt, and another Shari'a-bent group takes over Libya. If I KNEW that Obama HAD done this homework, I'd have no trouble taking what he says and does on faith, that he knows what he's doing. Because he hasn't let the American people down.

        Do you know your geography? Egypt and Libya have respectable military might. Both are an eyeblink from Europe. Europe seems to still welcome droves of "freedom-seeking" Muslim immigrants, and now have them by the millions.

        You know what Islam is better than most. Do you think these people are all masochists, living in Western cultures that are obscene and blasphemous to them? Or that freedom is something they value at ALL? Democracy and Islam are like oil and water – they're the "inside-out" of one another. Your view that Islam is only a quasi-religion is right on the head. No religion is like Islam. It is utterly alien to anyone's concept of what religion is and does. It is "other-than" a religion. It's a politico/militaristic viewpoint, wrapped like a burrito in the "tortilla" of an image – of a quasi-religion. A religion OF males, BY males and FOR males, to give Muhammad an army of literal robots. Which he got.

        I dislike religion, but recognize the need for religious rights and tolerance. Islam, however, USES its religious rights to deprive US of our OWN. Besides, anyone whose god tells them I deserve to be slaughtered, gets no respect from this kid. Silly me.

        Ask anyone if Islam prohibits converting by the sword. They'll say, yes, it is prohibited. Yet it goes on constantly! Why? Because it was only prohibited between the time Muhammad put some text to that effect in the Quran and the day when he violated it himself – by his own first forced conversion. He is revered as the role model for all Muslims; he is "the perfect Muslim." So if he trashed the text, "There shall be no compulsion in religion" that did it: it went DEAD. If you ask of a Muslim if forced conversions are prohibited, he, too, will say yes. And probably quote you that same – DEAD – text, fully knowing it IS dead. Why do they lie? Because Allah applauds lying to infidels. Which is why diplomacy with Muslims is reminiscent of "Alice-at-the-Teaparty." Accords are often broken before the ink dries. They're just being good Muslims.

        You have to admit that the realities of Islam are very likely FAR too alien for most people to encompass, even in imagination. But you'd think, with their survival at stake, they'd at least TRY? But they don't.

        Is it possible they come in droves to the free world, desiring something OTHER than freedom? Like waiting for a call to come, so they can all jihad at once and take over the countries they're in? The only alternative explanation for their presence is that they ARE masochists. And wouldn't it just be handy for them, then, if Egypt, Syria and Libya had only just become official Islamic States? I don't think you need further prodding, do you, to postulate what'll happen next.

        Remember this. You're doubtless being labeled an "Islamophobe." But prejudice can be of a positive nature as well as a negative one. "Pre-judgment" works both directions. Most people in the free world are prejudiced about Islam – believing it to be benign, when it so obviously is not. THEY are prejudiced. YOU are only prejudiced if you are pre-judging. If you really HAVE studied Islam, and fear it as I do, you don't just have an attitude. You have a STUDIED OPINION. When I first began to study Islam, I was looking for reassurance that it WAS peaceful and tolerant, in spite of the rampant terrorism by Muslims. I found no reassurance, but it did stand my hair on end.

        There are MANY genuine Islamophobes, who only know they hate Islam – like our Republicans. Hate is useless, and hating Islam because of the second-hand information that makes up the sum total of most peoples' knowledge, IS a prejudice. Going to the source is getting the reality, not an attitude. Second-hand knowledge can only result in an attitude, not an opinion. An attitude, bad, or even good. Still an attitude.

        I can't go into detail about how to be a Freethinker (which is NOT being an atheist in spite of the Internet), but if you are determined to have the realities of things, you're headed that way. Obama is a self-made Freethinker. I had my father to teach it to me, and recognize it in Obama, and others who show signs of it. As you do. Freethinking is a very difficult – often agonizing – self-discipline that can bring you as close to reality as is possible in this world. Seeking out reality by digging for every scrap of merit in a worldview that makes you want to yark your cookies, is far from easy. Since it is reality which rules events, though, a Freethinker seeks it avidly – through study and fiercely objective analysis. Which often hurts. You've taken the first step, by seeking reality where the reality exists: the texts of Islam. Keep it up.

        I'd urge you to see if somehow President Obama's ear can be reached to tell him how important it is to do his own research on Islam – from its own written texts, and NEVER by asking any Muslim, who will surely tell him lies. If the majority of us are taken in by the political correctness, we can hardly fault HIM for being likewise. But I'd like to be sure that he is more wise to Islam. It's possible he's waiting for a perfect moment to drop the axe on certain Islamic leaders' plans. He's thoroughly capable of it.

        I would, personally, URGE you to do what I'm doing. When I find comments by Muslims that are riddled with lies and propaganda, I call them out on it. Nicely, very ladylike and civilized, but peeling verbal skin. I can debunk their lies using their OWN sacred scriptures. And I plead, beg, the people of the free world to do the same homework that I've done, if they have confusion about Islam. It's all there, "horse's mouth" stuff. Anything you or I say, they can blow off. They CAN'T blow off something they researched for THEMSELVES. I'm frankly getting discouraged, because after several YEARS of trying VERY hard, maybe 3 people have commented, "Gee that might not be a bad idea." What Muslims have in store for us all won't affect me. I'm severely disabled and not much longer for this world than a few years. I won't see the global conquest, and part of me is glad of it. But Islam is the worst threat humanity has ever faced. Being human, I can't help but care. But I admit, I often want to shake people to their senses because they're so abysmally STUPID. Other times, I get so disgusted with them – if THEY don't care about their own survival, do they deserve to keep it? Do they merit my concern? That's the rhetoric I tell myself, but I can't adopt that sort of posture. I HAVE to keep trying.

        PLEASE join me in this effort to get our intellectually lazy and denial-clinging populations to realize that their own survival is at stake here. The most powerful tool to thwart Islam is in THEMSELVES – their knowledge of Islam, so they can't remain placid – and vulnerable – any more. Truly, is OIL worth your own survival?

        These people MEAN BUSINESS about taking over the world. They're even DOING it right now, actively, and in front of our eyes, yet people remain convinced Islam is benign. You are needed to help wake them up. You can't do any of this if you use abusive or coarse language, or "fudge" on the facts even a little. It has to be entirely logical and civilized, but I can see you can do that. Be warned, though. I've been under cyber attack. Where, in ordinary browsing, I might get as many as 30 blocked attempts to access my PC, when I've been reading – and commenting on – Islamic subjects, it jumps sometimes to as high as 500! Twice they've managed to make me unable to comment on CNN's SoundOff boards, by putting an image overlay on top of the text field, so it won't accept a cursor. I can read only. Both occurred at times when what I might have to say would be particularly hateful to them. This time it was just after bin Laden was killed. I still can't make comments on SoundOff, but I can in places like this. They've done much more, too, but most of it is nuisance value compared to gagging me. I'm now going to have to reformat C: – again – because of this. If you start doing what I'm doing – especially if you are calling out Muslims on their lies, and pleading with people to study Islam for themselves – you'll be attacked too. I'd be careful and save all my data where nothing can touch it, before you get serious about this campaign to educate the ignorant-and-proud of America and Europe. Have NOTHING of a personal nature on your drives. They once tried to read my .doc file "E-Mail and Passwords." I got a popup saying the document couldn't be read! I didn't ask for it, someone ELSE did. But of course they couldn't open it – teehee! I had just formatted C: from their last attack, and hadn't reinstalled Word yet – besides which the file is password protected. So I copy/pasted the info to another file under a different name. Then I made the original file as available as they could want. But for content, I have to confess, I did use some rather pungent language. Which is QUITE out of character for me! Now, I hope they DO open it. Yukyuk.

        Though I can't comment on SoundOff right now, you CAN read what I've written earlier. My login name is "faster." You'll get an idea of what I'm trying to accomplish. You'll note that I'm usually clear, informed, logical and very civilized, but get my point across rather well. If I hadn't, they'd have no need to gag me!

        One thing I've learned is that Muslims will have NO scruples at all where pushing their faith on the world is concerned. Gagging me is saying that I don't have the right to free speech. And there's no better way I know of to BURN my BACON!

        I seem to have hit upon an essential truth: that the Muslims DEPEND on our collective ignorance in order to succeed in taking over the world. So it seems only reasonable that ridding our people of their ignorance is a major step in thwarting their goals. I believe in thwarting them. Hating them only poisons the hater, and violence is right up their alley. Both are pointless or even counterproductive. Thwarting can be done quite effectively, if well planned, and that is the only solution we have that is rational. We aren't exactly dripping with all kinds of time to do it in, though. I figure maybe another 2-5 years and they'll be all over the free world like ugly on a sow. Conquest is what Muslims know best. Conquest is what they DO. But they're capable of great patience, and can wait decades, even generations, for that call to jihad. Which is what they're doing in the Western countries. They won't start this push till they know they're ready. They know they won't get a second whack at it. So when that DOES happen, it'll be too late.

        But how can we convince anyone to take the necessary steps, when they refuse to see that there is any threat at ALL? If we fail to be prepared to thwart them, Islam will WIN. And yes, even in SPITE of all our gun-toting Rambos.

        I'm hoping people like you will take up this gauntlet and keep browbeating the public to do some simple homework. I'm not going to be able to keep it up much longer. I'd like to know that at least a few other people are studying Islam, and then doing what I've been doing. If you're willing to be one of them, I wish you all kinds of luck. You'll need it.

        May 18, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
  16. Yalianina

    We should ask ourselves, why after two months only few thousands are demonstrating ?, and with less intensity, after discovering the big conspiracy from the regional and international power to break Syria, into multiple regions. We don't want another Iraq, and I believe that tru reforms are being implemented, since the emergency law was abolished, and all non violent prisoners were released, and the government was changed. It is a joke that we even included the new government members in the sanction, when it just took office after changing the old one. What a farce. If Obama, which I supported vividly during the campaign, thinking that he will be smart and independent, and not being told what to do and what to say, if he is true to himself, he should call on the King of Bahrain, to stop slaughtering his people (90 % they don't want his rule), and he should ask the Saudi forces to leave Bahrain, and stop killing innocent people, then I will respect him again.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Reply
  17. TITUS

    These people who claim they know their countries [SYRIa INCLUSIVE] and the middle -east better are only fooling themselves.Someone sat in Washington D.C watching his boys raiding your middle-east super power withouth the knowledge of your president and the military and you still have the gut to call such a fool. Please allow him[AMERICA] to tell you what is good for you for he knows you better than you know yourselves

    May 18, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Reply
  18. j mas

    Why does it always have to be the United States creating strategies, etc. Why doesn't the US ask Russia and China to put forward a plan. It is about time these two countries stepped up.......or shut up!

    May 18, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Reply
  19. syriaNtheUS

    Thank you for posting this article! Sadly the worst representation of Syrians are the ones who go out of their way to criticize anyone demanding change. And the only sad and pathetic argument they have is to say "since you are not syrian you do not deserve an opinion". really? Does this mean that because I am not Palestinian I cannot support the Palestinian cause? Or because I am not from the Congo I should not be concerned about the savagery going on against women there? That is a WEAK argument and shows the deperation of these people who cannot even fathom that their precious regime is finally under attack. I am 100% Syrian and my parents lived most of their live in Syria and I go to Syria regularly. If someone says I'm not entitled to an opinion either than they really are the puppets of the Assad regime. Why should we be ok with the status quo? And who is this person who said 200,000 at most have protested? Did we forget how many are too afraid to protest? How many have been threatened? How many are missing, have been killed or are held in prison at the moment? Anyone supporting this regime is either terrified, benefitting somehow or sooo brainwashed they are a lost cause. Why can't we ask for a better Syria? This president isn't even legitimate. SYRIA HAD TO CHANGE ITS CONSTITUTION TO ALLOW HIM TO BE PRESIDENT. Does that sound ridiciulous to anyone besides me? And maybe if Assad showed some compassion and gave some consessions to his own people (the protesters) rather than denying their very existence, other counttries would not have to intervene. Is Syria supposed to go on like this. And the biggest joke of this all is this sectarian propoganda. The author is right, this has been exploited and manipulated by the Syrian (regime) mafia.

    May 19, 2011 at 7:44 am | Reply
  20. Alain

    The Syrian people have stepped out asking for freedom and a democratic state after 41 years of oppression by a single party and one family ruling the country. The regime has responded by killing nearly a thousand of Syrian people so far including many women and children. Several thousands are detained including doctors, just because they are treating wounded people. Several cities are under siege with major damage. Many towns have no access to basic human necessities. Children are dying due to lack of medicines and blood for transfusion. Moreover, the Al-Assad’s regime kills the Syrian people and hides the crime by paving streets over the mass graves. The Assad’s regime is not legitimate and must go.

    May 20, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Reply
  21. EDJ

    Alain: Sorry to correct you. It is close to 49 years now. That is since the dark day of March, 8-1963. John F. Kennedy was alive and kikking around that time. And not 41 years

    June 8, 2011 at 2:22 am | Reply

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,741 other followers