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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has lost legitimacy and is "not indispensable," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday as tension soared over an assault by Assad loyalists on the U.S. and French embassies in Damascus.
Clinton condemned the Syrian attacks and said Washington did not believe the long-time Syrian ruler would follow through on his promises to reform in the face of escalating protests against his rule.
"From our perspective, he has lost legitimacy, he has failed to deliver on the promises he's made, he has sought and accepted aid from the Iranians as to how to repress his own people," Clinton told reporters in an appearance with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Washington.
Clinton's comments marked a significant sharpening of U.S. rhetoric on Assad, whose security forces have waged an increasingly brutal crackdown against protesters inspired by pro-democracy movements elsewhere in the Arab world.
"President Assad is not indispensable and we have absolutely nothing invested in him remaining in power."
The current turmoil in Syria (the most serious domestic threat to the regime since it suppressed a violent rebellion by the Muslim Brotherhood close to 30 years ago) is potentially very troubling for Assad’s top ally, the Islamist government in Tehran.
The international community’s failure to effectively respond to Iran’s rogue behavior such as its support for terrorism has created the impression in the Middle East that the Islamic Republic is “invincible,” Ghadry said.
He predicted this situation would undergo a dramatic change if Assad and the Ba’athists were driven from power. Regime change in Syria would deal a major blow to jihadist terror networks and state sponsors, potentially jeopardizing Iranian weapons shipments to organizations like Hizballah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. “Many of the Iranian opposition figures I have talked to have indicated that if Syria [Assad] falls, Iran will follow,” he said, with that radical regime replaced by a government committed to “freedom and democracy.”
n his efforts to crush dissent within Syria, Assad has brought in Iranian advisers including members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its elite Qods Force. In June 2009, the IRGC played a key role in the Iranian regime’s bloody crackdown against citizens protesting falsified election results. Given Tehran’s success in suppressing peaceful dissent in 2009, Assad is hopeful that Iranian help will enable him to crack down in Syria. Iran has shipped riot-control gear and computer equipment to the Assad regime. The Syrian government is using the latter to target regime critics.
As he looks towards the future, Ghadry does not mince words about the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to dominate the opposition movement in Syria. He notes that U.S. policy may be helping the Brotherhood’s efforts to marginalize non-Islamist opposition to Assad. According to WikiLeaks, since 2005 between $6 million and $12 million in U.S. funds went to Syrian opposition groups. Much of this money went to the Movement For Justice and Development in Syria (MJD), an organization reportedly headed by former Muslim Brotherhood members.
Ghadry believes that U.S. government priorities are skewed. Instead of funding non-Islamist Muslims, Washington has been directing money to Islamists he refers to as “young MB-lite” – people who will be swept aside if Brotherhood operatives come to power in Damascus. These people “will be eaten alive by the real MB upon their return to Syria,” he said. If the West thinks “that this new generation of young Islamists represents Syria’s future, then the region is in trouble.”
Ghadry urges the Obama Administration to take action “to empower the liberal and secular leaders” to prevent a repeat of what happened following the 1979 Iranian Revolution that toppled the Shah. Many members of the coalition that overthrew the monarchy were liberal and pro-democratic. But they were swept aside by Islamist revolutionaries aligned with the Ayatollah Khomeini. That scenario will repeat itself in Syria if the Brotherhood takes power, Ghadry warned.
He urged European governments and the United States to choose carefully how they spend the $40 billion they recently agreed to spend on “Arab Spring” movements. If the money goes to Islamist groups like the Brotherhood, “these funds will indirectly be used against Europe by Islamists who want their opponents to emigrate to Europe in droves. I cannot emphasize to the Europeans how important it is for the EU to support liberal and secular groups, as opposed to the Islamists.”
One potential wild card is Turkey’s Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a close ally of the Muslim Brotherhood and until recently a political ally of Assad. Recently, Erdogan has questioned whether Assad was genuinely prepared to make “reforms.” Ghadry believes that after Turkey holds elections on June 12, Erdogan may try to lean on the Muslim Brotherhood to reach an accommodation with Damascus.
To Ghadry, a government dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood or a continuation of the Assad dictatorship would be disastrous for the Syrian people. And they would also be bad news for the United States and the Western, democratic world.
Muslim Brotherhood documents found in Virginia in an FBI raid -- which included a blueprint for how the organization would infiltrate the United States -- talked about "training on the use of weapons domestically and overseas in anticipation of zero-hour" (this is information that a Team B II member reported on). Their plan in America, at least, is violent overthrow, and just because they don't begin their quest in violence does not mean they don't conclude it in violence.
the Brotherhood’s five-phase plan for dominating America:
• Phase I: Establish an elite Muslim Leadership and raise Islamicist consciousness in the community;
• Phase II: Create Islamic institutions that the leadership can control and form autonomous Muslim enclaves;
• Phase III: Infiltrate America’s political and social institutions forming a shadow state; escalate conversions; manipulate mass media to remove language offensive to Islam;
• Phase IV: Open hostile public confrontation over U.S. policies, riot, make militant demands for special rights and accommodations;
• Phase V: Wage final conflict and overthrow (jihad).