Alan Moore

If you go back far enough to 1979 you might have asked if Saddam Hussein was the new Hafez al-Assad, Bashar al-Assad‘s father.

Hafez took power in Syria in 1970 under the same Ba’ath party that Hussein led in Iraq.

Ba’ath, founded in the 1940s, came to power in Syria in the early 1950s. In many ways, al-Assad set the stage for the reign of terror by Hussein so the comparison is justified.

As conflict begins to heat up in Syria, a new face of terror is coming to the forefront of the national debate.Bashar al-Assad took power in 2000 after the death of Hafez.

The Syrian government amended the constitution to lower the qualifying age of presidency to 34, making Bashar eligible. He won 97 percent of the vote by running unopposed as political opposition is illegal in Syria.

The similarities between Hussein and the al-Assad family are spooky. In 1982, Hafez used chemical weapons on his own people in Hama; estimates on those killed range from 7,000 to 35,000.

They continue to produce weapons for chemical warfare in Syria, with intelligence reports estimating at least four plants.

Weapons of mass destruction anyone? The Syrians have also been under the repressive “emergency” laws which have been in place since 1963.These laws give the government power to conduct martial law through freely arresting suspicious citizens, censoring the Internet and media, and restricting public gatherings while giving prosecutorial immunity to security forces.

Much like the police state in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, the Syrian government is a blight on human rights.

As protests rage in Syria, al-Assad’s security forces are responding by imprisoning protesters and even killing some in the streets. Bashar al-Assad despises Israel and the United States with a heated passion. His country has been on the “State Sponsors of Terrorism” list since 1979.

They provide safe-haven, political and material support to a number of terrorist groups like Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.

Syria continues to provide weapons to these groups despite UN Security Council resolution 1701 of 2006, demanding an arms embargo into Lebanon. Also, a large number of foreign fighters have entered Iraq through Syria to kill American troops.

While the Obama administration and our military turn their attentions to Libya, the greatest threat to the Middle East might actually be in Syria.

Bashar al-Assad rules with an iron fist and has shown no hesitation to murder his people. He has denied international pleas for human rights and continues to support terrorism. In Libya we are on the de facto side of the rebels.

Protesters in Syria might think if they can make enough noise the United States will also come to their aid.

We all need to understand what is going on and make a decision on whether we will support such action when the time comes.

In the Middle East, the rise of a powerful dictator never seems to end well and chances are we will eventually have to face Bashar al-Assad at some point.

That confrontation may come sooner rather than later.