What Assad May Have Learned In Egypt, And Could Apply To Syria

Aug 23, 2013

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel talks to members of the media April 25, 2013, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. While briefing reporters, Hagel announced that the White House had released a statement saying it had evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons against Syrian rebels.
Credit Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo / U.S. Department of Defense / Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this week Syrian anti-government activists accused President Bashar al-Assad's regime of carrying out a toxic gas attack. Death tolls as high as 1,300 have been reported, but the government has called the allegations “absolutely baseless.”

Joshua Landis, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, tells KGOU’s World Views that video footage clearly shows something horrible has happened.

“Last time this happened Obama was able to punt, because only about 10 people were killed,” Landis says. “This raises [another whole] question though: ‘Does America care about weapons of mass destruction?’ We do. This puts the international community, and the United States as the head of it, into the spotlight. Are you going to stand up for these values, or are you going to punt?”

Landis says U.S. efforts to influence the Egyptian military to strike a bargain with the Muslim Brotherhood after protests earlier this month could have inspired Syria’s leader.

“When America punted on that issue, and closed our eyes to 1,000 dead in Egypt, Bashar al-Assad may have asked himself 'Why can't I do the same thing?'," Landis says.