Taking a hard line on a U.S. foe in the Middle East, Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich indicated on Wednesday that he would unilaterally “replace” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad because he is running a “bad dictatorship.”
The former House speaker was asked on a morning talk-radio show in Chicago to offer a “30-second” answer to what he would do about Syria, where anti-government protests have led to a violent crackdown. Gingrich replied, “I can give you a three-second answer. Replace Assad. I mean, Assad is our enemy. He is an ally of Iran. It is a bad dictatorship. It is to our interest to get rid of dictators of this kind.”
Gingrich did not say how he would remove Assad, and acknowledged there would be “consequences” for such an overt U.S. action. He said that, as president, it would be his job to manage them. “Now, that means you have consequences and have to be much better at managing the consequences than this administration has been,” he said on the Don Wade & Roma radio show. “But I think nonetheless getting rid of Assad will lead to a better future than keeping him there.”
Assad is under mounting international pressure over a military crackdown on antigovernment protesters. While the United Nations estimates that some 4,000 Syrians have been killed, Assad has denied ordering his troops to attack, telling ABC News this week that only a “crazy” leader kills his own people.