The Washington Post quotes Rafik Hariri Center Resident Senior Fellow Frederic C. Hof from his recent article in POLITICO on his role as the Special Adviser for Transition in Syria:

The month before the protests began, Frederic C. Hof, then a State Department official trying to forge a peace accord between Syria and Israel met with Assad in Damascus. Arab Spring movements had already broken out in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, but Assad was business-like and did not mention or comment on them, said Hof, now a senior fellow at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

It was Hof’s fourth meeting with Assad. It would turn out to be the last.


“The White House had the strongly held belief that Obama needed to be on the right side of history,” Hof said. “The prevailing belief was that Assad would not last too long. If the Arab Spring had swept away Mubarak and others, and all these people were giants, who was Assad to resist this tidal force?”

At the State Department, however, there were doubts. Officials said that if Obama were to call for Assad to step aside, the administration would need a strategy to make it happen. Hof said, “Even though Assad was not as impressive as the other four who were swept aside, he still had a lot of resources and the ability to turn this into a largely sectarian conflict since his military forces were predominantly of the same sect as he was.”

Read the full article here.

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