How to bring down Assad


Rather than attacking Russian behavior as “despicable,” as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton did Friday in Tunis, a better answer is to make Moscow part of the solution. That might mean giving Russian leader Vladimir Putin a role in brokering the transition — hosting a conference in Moscow, let’s say, that brings together the Syrian opposition, the Arab League and the Turks. If that got Assad out of the way short of a civil war, it might be a sensible bit of realpolitik.


Second, the issue of sectarian tension: Assad survives in part because Alawites and Christians fear that a bloodbath of reprisal killings would follow his ouster. The United States and its key regional allies, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, need to address this issue directly. The message should be that Assad’s days are indeed numbered, and minorities should join Sunnis in the movement for democratic change — with the assurance that, as they do so, they will be protected by international guarantees.


The Muslim Brotherhood, which has emerged as the strongest voice in the Arab Spring, would win new friends if it could join Turkey in sponsoring a dialogue that gathers Syria’s Alawite clan leaders, Christian patriarchs and Muslim democrats.

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