This may seem like such a small matter in the scheme of things: Syrian Ambassador’s Invitation Withdrawn. No, the guy from Syria won’t be at the royal wedding after all.
Gordon Rayner reports:
The Foreign Office said it had decided Dr Sami Khiyami’s presence at the royal wedding ceremony would be “unacceptable” in the light of the killing of up to 450 pro-democracy demonstrators in recent weeks.
Kevan Jones, the shadow defence minister, had warned Buckingham Palace of the damage that would be done by the “horrific spectre of killing on the streets of Syria while the Syrian ambassador is in Westminster Abbey for the royal wedding.”
Maybe Mr. Sami Khiyami is relieved not to have to get all gussied up for the wedding. Who knows? But this is a subtle diplomatic action. Our current administration arrived on the scene touting the magic of diplomacy (you know, instead of what the cowboy was doing). But the administration seems to think diplomacy means never having to say anything unpleasant to a tyyrant (unless forced into it by public opinion in France).
The U.S. could recall its ambassador from Damascus (let’s hope that this will still happen). That would be a nice reset button. But instead it pussyfoots around, huffing and puffing a bit, but basically doing nothing. I wish President Obama hadn’t returned that bust of Sir Winston Churchill-maybe its mere presence would remind him how real diplomacy is conducted.
Meanwhile, Lee Smith reports that there will be another round of sanctions (whoopee!). The officials targeted by the sanctions will include Bashir al-Assad’s brother but apparently not the cosseted dictator himself:
In other words, it seems that the Syrian president himself is off the hook. It’s not surprising the Obama White House is going to give a free pass to the man who’s actually calling the shots and murdering his own people. As Aaron David Miller explains in Politico, “Having worked in the State Department for more than 20 years, I know that the Assads hold a special place in the schemes and dreams of U.S. policymakers. U.S. policy always seemed to mean giving him the benefit of the doubt.”
It’s true that everyone, from Henry Kissinger to Colin Powell, flattered himself into thinking that they could do business with the Assads. But the Obama administration has taken it to a different level. An administration official told the New York Times that “Mr. Assad is sensitive to portrayals of his regime as brutal and backward. ‘He sees himself as a Westernized leader,’ one senior administration official said, ‘and we think he’ll react if he believes he is being lumped in with brutal dictators.'”