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Bashar's Bad Judgment

It's chronic.

12:00 AM, Sep 19, 2007 • By DAVID SCHENKER
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Although an armistice was signed in 1974, Syria and Israel technically remain at war. For decades, Syria has continued the war against Israel via proxies. Despite this, the disputed territory of the Golan--which Israel occupied in 1967 and annexed in
1981--continues to be Israel's quietest border. All this could change, however, if the Asad regime feels compelled to respond militarily, either out of pride or to silence its critics.

No doubt, the Israeli attack was an embarrassment to the Asad regime. Now Syrian officials are ominously warning that they will "choose the place and the hour" of their response. Should Bashar decide to retaliate, the consequences will be disastrous for
Syria. Hoping to salvage North Korean talks and a moribund Middle East peace process, Washington is hoping that Damascus will shun reprisals and downplay the incident. Regrettably, given his penchant for bad judgment, odds are high that Bashar will make yet another poor choice.

David Schenker is a senior fellow in Arab politics at The Washington Institute. From 2002 to 2006, he served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as country director for Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories.