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Friday, February 05, 2010

Lieberman warns Bashar al-Assad

On Thursday, the chattering classes in Israel were preoccupied with what a terrible diplomat Avigdor Lieberman is and how he must be fired because he dared to send a sharp warning to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Speaking at an event at Bar-Ilan University, Lieberman warned Assad that in an event of war with Israel, “not only will you lose the war, you and your family will no longer be in power.”
A lot of Israelis felt that Lieberman was advocating regime change in Syria, but there's never been a regime in Syria that was not hostile to Israel and it's unlikely there would be one even if Assad were to be replaced (see "Iraq"). I believe that Lieberman's intent was more along the lines of what Noah Pollak suggests.
Lieberman tipped his hand to the fact that the Israelis have made a strategic decision that another 2006-style conflagration will not leave Damascus, or the Assad regime, untouched. Making this fact known to the Syrians — despite the appearance of belligerence — will actually make another round of war less likely.
The problem is how to make known to Assad that we won't let the Obama administration restrain us either, because otherwise the deterrent is of questionable value. The only way to do that would be to start defying Obama. Let's hope it happens.


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