Amidst the many dangers posed by the political conflagration now engulfing the Arab world, we are presented with a unique opportunity in Syria. In Egypt, the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak has empowered the Muslim Brotherhood. The Sunni jihadist movement which spawned al-Qaeda and Hamas is expected to emerge as the strongest political force after the parliamentary elections in September.
Just a month after they demanded Mubarak’s ouster, an acute case of buyer’s remorse is now plaguing his Western detractors. As the Brotherhood’s stature rises higher by the day, Western media outlets as diverse as The New York Times and Commentary Magazine are belatedly admitting that Mubarak was better than the available alternatives.
Likewise in Libya, even as US-led NATO forces continue to bomb Muammar Gaddafi’s loyalists, there is a growing recognition that the NATO-supported rebels are not exactly the French Resistance. Last Friday’s Daily Telegraph report confirming that al-Qaeda-affiliated veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are now counted among the rebels the US is supporting against Gaddafi, struck a deep blow to public support for the war.
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s admission Sunday that Gaddafi posed no threat to the US and that its military intervention against Gaddafi does not serve any vital interest similarly served to sour the American public on the war effort.
After al-Qaeda’s participation in the anti-Gaddafi rebellion was revealed, the strongest argument for maintaining support for the rebels became the dubious claim that a US failure to back the al-Qaeda penetrated rebellion will convince the non-al-Qaeda rebels to join the terrorist organization. But of course, this is a losing argument. If supporting al-Qaeda is an acceptable default position for the rebels, then how can it be argued that they will be an improvement over Gaddafi?
The anti-regime protests in Syria are a welcome departure from the grim choices posed by Egypt and Libya because supporting the protesters in Syria is actually a good idea.
Assad is an unadulterated rogue. He is an illicit nuclear proliferator. Israel’s reported bombing of Assad’s North Korean-built, Iranian-financed nuclear reactor at Deir al-Zour in September 2007 did not end Assad’s nuclear adventures. Not only has he refused repeated requests from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect the site, commercial satellite imagery has exposed four other illicit nuclear sites in the country. The latest one, reportedly for the production of uranium yellowcake tetroflouride at Marj as Sultan near Damascus, was exposed last month by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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