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Assad Apologists vs. The Truth

A discredited regime still afloat

Marc Tracy
November 15, 2011

Joseph Massad argues that President Assad’s repression of the Syrian people is really the fault of U.S. imperialism. “It is again,” he declares, “the United States that has destroyed the possibility of a democratic outcome of the current popular uprising.” You may remember him from a recent controversy involving the claim that a different Columbia professor suggested to a Jewish student that she would feel uncomfortable in Massad’s class.

Fortunately, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan—maybe the most crucial outside player in the Syrian drama, and not one ordinarily to exculpate the United States and Israel—disagrees with Massad. “Those who fire on their own people will go down in history as leaders who feed on blood,” he said today. Turkey has moved to further sanction Syria, though, unlike Jordan’s King Abdullah, Erdogan has yet to expressly call for Assad’s ouster. On a broader level, Russia (much more than China) is blocking U.N. Security Council action against a regime that, extraordinarily, has been suspended by the Arab League.

Massad is right about one thing: Israel wants Assad out. All the way back in June, Ambassador Michael Oren declared, “The violence [Assad] has unleashed on his own people demonstrating for freedoms confirms Israel’s fears that the devil we know in Syria is worse than the devil we don’t.”

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.