Thorn in the Side of 9 US Presidents: the Assads

Marathon negotiations with Bashar al-Assad's father were nicknamed 'bladder diplomacy'
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2017 12:36 PM CDT
Thorn in the Side of 9 US Presidents: The Assads
Hafez Assad, right foreground, his wife, Anissa Makhloof, foreground left, and their children, from left, Maher, Bashar, Bassel, Majd and Bushra.   (AP Photo/Syrian Ministry of Information, File)

The Assad family has been in power in Syria since a successful coup in 1970, the last of dozens that occurred after the country, which is wedged between Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq, had declared sovereignty from France in 1946. Since then, each of nine American presidents has tried in his own way to deal with the Assad family—namely its founder, Hafez al-Assad, and more recently his son, current Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It's been largely an exercise in futility for all, reports the New Yorker in a piece detailing the tumultuous history between the two countries since the 1970 coup.

As veteran reporter Robin Wright writes, the elder Assad not only no-showed all sorts of meetings and summits that hinged on his participation, but didn't hesitate to resort to violence and terror. Tensions have only further mounted as his son, who was brought up in palaces and "pampered by privilege," has "killed, injured, or displaced millions more Syrians than his father did, and in a far shorter time," Wright writes. Now President Trump, who like his predecessors first expressed a willingness to negotiate with Assad, seems to have discovered within his first 100 days that Assad, per the New Yorker, "may be his nemesis, too." (Press Secretary Sean Spicer even suggested that Assad is worse than Hitler in remarks that went viral and for which he later apologized.) Read the entire piece here. (Read more Syria stories.)

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