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Syria Uses Navy to Kill Citizens

10:38 AM, Aug 15, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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The New York Times reports that Syria is using its navy to suppress protestors:

In yet another escalation of its crackdown on dissent, the Syrian government unleashed navy vessels, tanks and a mix of soldiers, security forces and paramilitary fighters against the port city of Latakia on Sunday, killing at least 25 people, including three children, activists and residents said.

Meanwhile, Elliott Abrams wonders whether the Senate should confirm Robert Ford as ambassador to Syria:

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a rump confirmation for Robert Ford on August 2nd, attended amazingly enough by only one senator.  (The rest had gone home after the debt ceiling vote.)  But even if the entire Committee membership had been present, the issue of whether to confirm Ford could not in my view have been settled that day....

So the bottom line for me is that the Committee should not act hastily.  With the Senate in recess, this matter should wait until September—by which time Assad will on the present pace have killed hundreds more peaceful protesters and maybe, just maybe, the Obama Administration will have made the statement it should have made months ago.  Then the Committee should seek information about Ford’s actions in Damascus, past and current, and his possibilities for stepping them up.

I hope that by September  there will be good grounds for confirmation: the White House will have called upon Assad to go, and Ford will have shown (again, through classified information if need be) what good things he can do in Damascus.  But if by then the Administration is still dithering, and if it is clear that Ford’s ability to do his job in Damascus is greatly limited, the argument against confirmation will be stronger.  Under those circumstances it would be better to defer the nomination in the hope that he can, a few months later, be confirmed as our first ambassador to a free Syria.

Whole thing here.

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