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U.S. Policy Options in Syria
A briefing by Gary C. Gambill
February 27, 2012
Gary Gambill holds a B.S. in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, an M.A. in Arab studies from Georgetown University, and is A.B.D. from N.Y.U. He is a former editor of the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin and the Middle East Monitor, a former employee of the Middle East Forum, and is now an independent editor. Gambill has been a country editor on Syria and Lebanon for Freedom House and has written extensively on Syria and Lebanon. On February 27, 2012, he briefed the Middle East Forum via conference call about US policy options in Syria.
Bashar Assad "can't win," Gambill argued, because he now lacks the power to pacify his opposition—something he had in abundance until last year. His position is made ever more tenuous by his Alawite origin, viewed as heretical by Syria's majority Sunni population.
Gambill attributed the Assad regime's ability to seize and hold power for forty-one years to several primary strengths. First, it has established a brutal police state that slaughtered dissidents by the thousands, notably in Hama in 1982 by Bashar's father, Hafez, and Homs today. Second, it has been highly effective at penetrating all walks of Syrian society. Third, its embrace of a virulently anti-Zionist and anti-American foreign policy succeeded in both splitting the opposition and lending it an aura of legitimacy. Fourth, both the West and the predominantly Sunni Arab world have appeased Assad's regime and ignored the abuses of his rule. Lastly, Assad's ability to retain the support not just of Alawites but also of other non-Sunni minorities, mainly the Christians, has proved crucial. Most of these factors no longer apply, not least since the "barrier of fear" has been crossed.
Should the U.S. seek to stop the bloodletting and accelerate Assad's fall through direct military intervention? Gambill's answer is a resounding no.
The status quo is untenable because the other Arab countries, including those that have urged Washington to confront Iran, and even Turkey, will not allow continued instability and bloodshed on their borders. Any confrontation between Tehran and the Arab states should be allowed to run its course. If Assad is fated for defeat, and his fall would remove Iran from "Syria's orbit," there is no rationale for U.S. intervention.
Nor should Israel be unduly alarmed by Assad's demise, though the likely Islamist domination of the successor regime. Bashar's diversionary anti-Zionist foreign policy and rhetoric was just that—a diversion from his Alawite origin—and an unnecessarily radical stance for any Sunni-dominated government to assume.
Assad's willingness to murder his own people is an albatross for both his regime and his Iranian allies. If America can do nothing to decisively improve the situation, it is in our best interests to stand by and watch Iran struggle with the very same dilemma.
Summary account by Alex Berman.
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Monday, April 30, 2012
Posted by solsticewitch13 at 11:53 AM
April 30, 2012
See below for an op-ed by Brigitte Gabriel that appeared last week in The Blaze.
We only have a few more days to gather names for our very important open letter to Congress opposing watering down FBI counterterrorism training materials. Congressional hearings will be taking place very soon.
The more names we get, the better chance we have of getting the letter inserted in the congressional record.
So if you haven’t yet added your name, please do so today!
World Watering Down FBI Counterterrorism Training Materials Endangers America
• Posted on April 25, 2012 at 4:25pm
A decade after the United States was viciously attacked, a new attempt by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) to water down the FBI’s counterterrorism training materials of valuable information regarding radical Islam has alarmed Members of Congress concerned with our national security. In a March 27, 2012 letter to Director Mueller, Senator Durbin badgers him again for not caving to his politically correct notions, demanding the removal of language and information essential to fighting terrorism.
ACT! for America, the largest national security grassroots organization in the country, as well as Members of Congress are concerned with Senator Durbin’s approach, and rightly so. The ongoing purge of counterterrorism training materials used by the FBI as well as state and local law enforcement is a danger to our nation. These actions are a continuation of dangerous steps to manipulate, if not altogether eliminate, a clear definition of the threat that radical Islam poses to our nation.
In the most recent case concerning the FBI, who exactly are these “experts in the field” to whom Senator Durbin would like to assign the duty of “reviewing and approving” the counterterrorism training materials used by the men and women who serve our nation in the Federal Bureau of Investigation? Who is allowed to vet those “experts?” We have seen on an ongoing basis dubious “experts,” such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), advising our nation’s decision-makers about radical Islam, including the Administration, Congress and state and local elected leaders. CAIR was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism financing trial in our history and was identified by the Justice Department as connected to Hamas, yet it continues to attempt to influence counterterrorism policies with an obvious conflict of interest.
While ongoing reviews of counterterrorism materials are always wise, deliberate manipulation and whitewashing of terms that accurately define the threat is not. This is especially true if such revisions are made in the name of “political correctness” or by “experts” who, in reality, are more interested in undermining the ability of our law enforcement community to thwart acts of terrorism. Law enforcement officials are our front line of the counterterrorism issue, and it is critically important that they have accurate training materials to help them to do their job right. Such training materials should not be modified at the whim of one or two Members of Congress, or outside “consultants” whose identities are kept secret from congressional oversight.
In an open letter to members of the U.S. Congress who have jurisdiction over the FBI, we note the whitewashing of references to radical Islam in the FBI’s training materials as the latest in a series of actions by the Obama administration that amount to an informal implementation of U.N. Resolution 16/18 (the “The Istanbul Process”). U.N. Resolution 16/18 includes language that seeks to bypass the U.S. Constitution by laying the groundwork for criminalizing any action or speech against a religion, using protection against “incitement to violence” as the rationale. The U.S. Department of State is a complicit participant in this process, something that we find alarming as such criminalization of speech is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
This becomes even more clear when you compare the 9/11 Commission’s Report to today’s national security lexicon, as well as in the report on the killings at Fort Hood by Major Nidal Hasan. In the case of the 9/11 Commission Report, the Commission clearly defined radical Islam as a threat to our nation. However, words that were included hundreds of times in that bi-partisan report, such as “Islam,” “Jihad,” and “Muslim,” were removed entirely from the Obama Administration’s 2009 strategic threat assessment. In the U.S. military’s 86 page report on the Ft. Hood incident, not one mention is made about Major Hasan’s Muslim faith and how he viewed it as motivating his actions. In fact, Major Hasan himself is not even mentioned – even though his is the sole suspect in the case.
These actions are extremely dangerous. Political correctness must not trump constitutional rights, nor hamper our country’s ability to protect itself by muzzling law enforcement or hoodwinking its citizens.
The good news is the American public is becoming more educated about the threats posed to our nation by radical Islam. The American people are appropriately looking to their elected officials to enact sound policies that will protect them from this threat — and they are prepared to remove those elected officials from office if they fall short of that task.
Brigitte Gabriel is an international terrorism analyst and a two times New York Times best-selling author of Because They Hate and They Must Be Stopped. She is the President of ACT for America.org, the largest national security grassroots movement in the U.S.
ACT for America
P.O. Box 12765
Pensacola, FL 32591
ACT for America is an issues advocacy organization dedicated to effectively organizing and mobilizing the most powerful grassroots citizen action network in America, a grassroots network committed to informed and coordinated civic action that will lead to public policies that promote America’s national security and the defense of American democratic values against the assault of radical Islam. We are only as strong as our supporters, and your volunteer and financial support is essential to our success. Thank you for helping us make America safer and more secure.
The news items, blogs, educational materials and other information in our emails and on our website are only intended to provide information, news and commentary on events and issues related to the threat of radical Islam. Much of this information is based upon media sources, such as the AP wire services, newspapers, magazines, books, online news blog and news services, and radio and television, which we deem to be reliable. However, we have undertaken no independent investigation to verify the accuracy of the information reported by these media sources. We therefore disclaim all liability for false or inaccurate information from these media sources. We also disclaim all liability for the third-party information that may be accessed through the material referenced in our emails or posted on our website.
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