from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

Syria: How to Avoid Civil War, and What to Ask Ambassador Ford.

August 3, 2011

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I’ve recently written two articles on Syria. In the Wall Street Journal, I discussed what actions might be taken to help avoid sectarian conflict. The longer the current violence continues the more likely it is that the struggle for freedom will become a Sunni vs. Alawite conflict, given the fact that the Assad regime is led by Alawites in a majority-Sunni country. It would therefore be useful to reach out to the Alawite generals, urging that they choose to be survivors not war criminals, and save themselves and their community by distancing themselves from Assad and his mafia. And it would be useful to ask the opposition to Assad to clarify that they are anti-Assad not anti-Alawite, and seek a country where all minorities (Christian, Kurd, Druze, and Alawite) will be fully protected.

In The Weekly Standard I offered a series of questions for U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford. Ford was sent to Damascus under a recess appointment and is now seeking Senate confirmation. His hearing was held Tuesday, August 2, and did no credit to the U.S. Senate: as most senators left town immediately after the debt ceiling vote, only one showed up to question Ford. But they can submit questions in writing, and I suggest ten questions about U.S. policy and his role in it.

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