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“All the Assad Posters Are Gone”

I just got off the phone with a contact who drove from Syria to Jordan—a frightening trip, he said, as he got pulled out at a checkpoint by masked security officers and barely talked his way out of a far worse situation. The road to Jordan and all the small towns along the way are normally dotted with smiling portraits of Bashar al-Assad, the dictator of Syria. Every single mural has been taken down or defaced, my contact said. What’s going on now in Syria appears to be full-scale rebellion.

Tragically, it is a rebellion in a vacuum. If the media catalyzed revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, Bashar al-Assad is determined to ensure they fail to do the same in Syria. In the last few days, journalists from BBC, Reuters, and elsewhere have been arrested and expelled. It seems that Assad is preparing to do something he prefers the world not see. Something tells me what he plans to do will not justify Secretary of State Clinton’s description of him as a reformer.