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New York Times: Assad is Syria’s Coward-in-Chief

The New York Times has a fascinating report up about Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. As I wrote earlier today, the dictator is slaughtering his own people because they dare protest against his regime.

The NYT now says that Assad probably realizes he has to democratize his country, but is afraid to do so. His family members – among whom his brother Maher al-Assad and his brother-in-law Assef Shawkat – fear giving in to the protester’s demands will only embolden them, “bringing much larger crowds into the streets.”

In recent weeks, fearing a split in the army, the Assad government has relied almost exclusively on Alawite-dominated units, including the army division led by Mr. Assad’s younger brother Maher al-Assad, analysts say. But that tactic has reinforced resentment of the Alawites among the rest of the population, and raised greater fears of sectarian bloodletting.

“Bashar is totally cornered,” said the former diplomat. “And I’m sure that he is surrounded by people who are telling him: ‘We’re all in the same boat.’ ”

One former European diplomat who lived and worked several years in Syria told the Times that “Bashar knows there has to be a political solution, but he doesn’t have the courage to do what he needs to do for the sake of the country, and perhaps for his own survival.”

Whatever the case may be, the fact of the matter is that Bashar al-Assad is the president of his country. If he believes he has to democratize his country, he’s free to do so. Instead, he chooses to listen to family members who believe it’s perfectly fine to murder their own people.

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Posted on April 25 2011 3:32 am by mvdg
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