Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday that the U.S. would not intervene militarily in Syria as it is doing in Libya, and drew a distinction between Libya's Muammar Qaddafi and Syria's Bashar Assad. The latter, she explained, is seen by congressmen from both parties as “a reformer.”
“What’s been happening there the last few weeks is deeply concerning," she told CBS's Face the Nation regarding Syria, "but there’s a difference between calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing your own cities," as Qaddafi has done, and the violence by the Assad regime, which merely amounted to "police actions which, frankly, have exceeded the use of force that any of us would want to see.”
Clinton said that the circumstances that preceded the intervention in Libya -- international condemnation, and resolutions by the Arab League and United Nations Security Council -- are “not going to happen” regarding Damascus.
Even as Clinton explained the fine differences between Qaddafi and Assad, videos from Al-Sanamayan, near Daraa, appeared to document a massacre of civilians as it occurred.
The first video shows protesters running away from a loud hair of gunfire, the source of which is not clearly visible. The shooting goes on for over a minute as the crowd becomes frenzied and casualties are carried away. The second video shows people grieving over bodies lined up in a makeshift morgue.
Warning: Some may find the videos very disturbing.
Daraa itself was reported to be relatively quiet after a week of bloodshed.
The New York Times quoted analysts who said the events in Syria "could dash any remaining hopes for a Middle East peace agreement." Administration officials told the newspaper that the uprising appeared to be widespread, and included Sunni Muslims who have usually been loyal to Assad.
Some analysts said the Obama administration is concerned that Assad's minority Alawite government would be replaced by a Sunni-led government that will turn out to be more radical and Islamist.
However, Assad had "probably disqualified himself as a peace partner for Israel," an administration official said. “You can’t have a comprehensive peace without Syria. It’s definitely in our interest to pursue an agreement, but you can’t do it with a government that has no credibility with its population.”
Last June, the State Department organized a delegation from hi-tech leaders Microsoft, Dell and Cisco Systems to visit Assad and tell him he could attract more investment if he stopped censoring Facebook and Twitter.
The current events appear to indicate that the Syrian dictator was right in assuming that the increased openness created by the social networks would threaten his regime.