William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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SYRIAN TRAGEDY – AT 8:49 A.M. ET:  While the "international community" continues to express "alarm" over events in Syria, and President Obama issues occasional statements, the people of Syria are under an increasing reign of terror from their own government.   From WaPo:

BEIRUT —Syrian government forces overran an opposition stronghold in the central city of Homs on Thursday, raising concerns about the safety of the civilians still trapped there and exposing the limitations of the fledgling armed resistance movement that has sprung up to confront the Syrian regime in recent months.

Opposition activists in Homs said troops were moving through the Bab Amr neighborhood detaining all males older than 15 , even as world powers at the United Nations issued a nonbinding Security Council resolution calling for immediate humanitarian access to the stricken area.

Note the "nonbinding" part.  This is considered by some as "progress."

With all communications to Bab Amr severed, including satellite connections, it was difficult to ascertain exactly what was happening. But though the rebel Free Syrian Army cast the pullout as a tactical withdrawal, all the available evidence pointed to a rout of the fighters, who had seized control of the neighborhood months ago and turned it into a nationwide symbol of the burgeoning armed rebellion against the regime led by President Bashar al-Assad.

The blunt fact is that Assad is winning.  Assad is an ally of Iran and an enemy of the United States.  Contrast the careful treatment of him so far with the speed with which we helped get Hosni Mubarak, an American ally, out of power in Egypt. 

The Iranians are watching this carefully.  How tough is the West?  Does it back up its positions with strength?  Has the U.S. become a paper tiger?  Can Tehran hold out and continue to build its nuclear program?

Those are the key questions.  But the ugly fact is that most of the mainstream media isn't interested in Syria, or the implications of an Assad victory.  An Assad triumph might be the last nail in the coffin of the so-called "Arab spring," which is faltering throughout the Mideast.  Egypt is drifting toward becoming an Islamist state.  Ditto Libya.  An Islamic regime has come to power in Tunisia.  The hope for true, liberal democracy – not simply "free" elections but real democratic practice – is fading. 

This is not change we can believe in.

March 2, 2012