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Syria violence puts Obama in diplomatic, political tough spot

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“President Assad and the Syrian authorities,” Obama said, “have placed their personal interests ahead of the interests of the Syrian people, resorting to the use of force and outrageous human rights abuses to compound the already oppressive security measures in place before these demonstrations erupted.”

In an indication of the complexity of the situation in a region already steeped in turmoil, Obama added: “Instead of listening to their own people, President Assad is blaming outsiders while seeking Iranian assistance in repressing Syria's citizens through the same brutal tactics that have been used by his Iranian allies.”

In particular, Israel – the key US ally in the region – faces a situation whose outcome is impossible to determine but likely to be dangerous in any case.

“Assad has maintained stability,” Shlomo Brom of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University told the Washington Post. “He has kept the border with Israel quiet, and though he has harassed Israel by assisting Hezbollah and Hamas, he reacted cautiously to events such as the bombing of a Syrian nuclear facility that was attributed to Israel…. On the other hand, there is no sympathy for Assad and his links with Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah, and any regime change in Syria will hurt this axis.”

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