With respect to protecting and evacuating Americans from danger in the region, some bright student will, one of these days, write an MA quality thesis on the US State Department's own performance during the July 2006 war. The research will presumably detail how Americans citizens were left stranded-particularly-but not solely-in the Tyre region of South Lebanon. There is much available data on how those Americans most in need of departure assistance, while sheltering from American bombs and US artillery shells gifted to Israel, got short shrift form their government.
Embassy Beirut failed in 2006, even to publicly protest their bombardment as the huddled Yanks at Tyre port waited for a promised US destroyer to evacuate them. When an American craft finally approached the harbor, it hastily turned tail 180 degrees because the Israeli government ignored US entreaties to "let our people go." Memories are still clear and feelings still raw as American citizens recall panicked calls from Tyre to Embassy Beirut and the notorious American Citizen Services staffer "John" shouting at desperate Americans to " God damnit, stop tying up our phone lines" and to "make your own way to Beirut." "John" may not have known that the Israelis were targeting convoys of civilians who were desperately trying to do the latter.
Currently, some US citizens in Syria express cynicism about their Embassy issuing "warder travel advisories." While perhaps generally well meaning, pessimism persists about their real purpose which in the case of Syria are widely believed to be just another political sanction aimed at squeezing the Assad government to stop supporting the Resistance to Israel's occupation of Palestine. Both the US and Syrian governments know that these "travel advisories" deprive the Syrian economy of millions of dollars per day and much more during the current tourist season.
The American we met all agreed that beautiful Damascus this spring in a great place to be.
The US and its allies, despite good/bad cop statements from President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, appear to agree with Russia and China that the Assad regime should be pressured to make broad reforms and end corruption but that regimes change is unwarranted, illegal and extremely ill advised.
The Assad government appears to have weathered the current storm.
Many of the demands from outside of Syria for reforms are the same ones that are heard from Baath party officials, and Ministers of the Assad government and from Syrian citizens in many walks of life including students at the Law and Medical colleges in central Damascus.
Several high rankling Syrians, particularly in the offices that work in press, printing, publishing and distribution of government information cogently explained that President Assad himself is leading the fight within the regime for meaningful change and that a majority of the population supports him and want to help change Syria for the better.
Talking with a range of Syrian citizens, one senses a general willingness to believe their President and certain of his advisers and to allow the regime a little more time to make good on its promises.
Syrian Information Minister Adnan Mahmud declared on 5.13.11 that "the coming days will witness a comprehensive national dialogue in various Syrian provinces. The Syrian cabinet is currently preparing to execute a "comprehensive program of political, economic and social reform to serve the people's interest," he said in a press conference, according to the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).
"In light of the situation that has erupted in some provinces due to armed groups' killing citizens, terrorizing residents and burning public and private property" army, police and security units have been sent to hunt down those carrying weapons."
Mahmud also said that the besieged protest epicenter Daraa is not in need of any kind of supplies, adding that "we notified the UN that there is no need for any aid in Daraa."
Bashar Assad's regime will likely survive despite some foreign efforts to capitalize on domestic Syrian problems.
One editor of a major Syrian newspaper expressed sentiments that one hears from other Syrian officials and citizens alike: "We know we must change and please believe me when I say we want change more than you know. We have made mistakes. If our brothers and sisters who are overwhelmingly Syrian patriots will work with us and not turn to anarchy we can bring the change that all of us demand without more delay."
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