The spectacle of the United States unable to deal with Syria or Libyaor even the Palestinians is not just humbling but frightening.President Obama seems to have no sense of Arab reality, and no will todo anything except moan. The Europeans are no better, I hasten to say.The EU official in charge of foreign policy is Catherine Ashton,pitifully out of her depth, bleating the Euro-cliché that Bashar Assad is in the process of losing his legitimacy, as though he had ever had ashred of legitimacy.
Bashar Assad has a strategy that is working. He waits fordemonstrations to build up in one city or another, until the point whenthere is a risk that he loses control of the street thereirrecoverably. Then he sends the security forces in to make an exampleof that city. A nation-wide onslaught might well be more than hisforces could handle. Therefore he picks his targets one by one. Latakiais the latest city to be suppressed. The security forces have turnedheavy machine-guns on it, killing Alawis and Sunnis and driving largenumbers of Palestinians out of their homes and corralling them in astadium. So much for the “experts” who tell us that every Arab isdedicated to the Palestinian cause. Latakia now joins Deraa, Hama,Homs, Jisr al-Shughour and other cities and towns that have beencrushed. Moreover Obama was pontificating that Bashar Assad must go atthe very moment when the machine-guns were opening fire down thestreets of Latakia. The timing is a disaster. Obama’s speech exposesthat he offers no deeds to back up his words. In the Arab proverb, thetongue pays no tax, which is the very opposite of sound policyexpressed by “Speak softly but carry a big stick.” Bashar Assad knowsthat he has nothing to fear, and probably is now poring over maps todetermine where his men go murdering next,