The Corner

A Decade of Bashar’s Rule in Syria

It’s a week of anniversaries. Saturday, of course, is the anniversary of the Iranian elections — more on that later — but we should not forget that tomorrow marks the tenth anniversary of President Hafez al-Assad’s death in Syria. His son Bashar quickly assumed the reins of power amid great optimism from the engage-Syria crowd. After all, wasn’t Bashar a Western-educated eye doctor? Not all of the hope was unfounded; Bashar did usher in the so-called Damascus Spring, although it quickly became clear the spring would be short-lived.

In the meantime, Lebanon’s Cedar Revolution has collapsed, Syria has become the chief sponsor of foreign fighters/suicide bombers entering Iraq, and the Obama administration appears to be flirting with legitimizing Hezbollah. The White House has also nominated an ambassador to Syria, although the Senate has yet to confirm him.

At any rate, tomorrow I’m hosting a bipartisan and international conference at AEI to assess Syria under Bashar at ten years. Sen. Mike Johanns (R., Neb.), an increasingly important voice on national security, is keynoting. Don’t forget to RSVP online.

(We invited a few senior Middle East hands from the State Department to report on the current state of U.S. policy toward Syria, but the State Department was unable or unwilling to find an official who could explain U.S. policy, alas.)

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

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