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Bashar al-Assad President of Syria

Now that Russia is more amenable to international involvement in Syria there is increasing talk about pressuring Assad into transferring power to the rebels. Unfortunately this simply will not happen under the current conditions. Assad is in too deep now to to let go.

At the beginning of the Syria conflict it was clear that Bashar al-Assad was clinging to power for the sake of power. He was not going to give up his rule over Syria easily. But as time has pasted I believe his motives are shifting. Now Assad can’t give up power. If he relinquishes power then he will face criminal charges from the Syrian people and the International Criminal Court. Assad can’t surrender Syria without surrendering his own life. In addition, if Assad surrenders Syria then many of his supporters including family will likely face criminal charges and possibly death.

It makes no sense for Assad to allow for a transition of power to the rebels when it will result in his death and punishment or death for many of those close to him. Simply put Assad has nothing to gain by giving up and everything to loose.

This brings up a very difficult moral and pragmatic question. Should Assad be granted immunity for his crimes if he relinquishes power?

On the side of justice there is a resounding NO! Assad should not be given immunity for anything. He deserves the wrath of the people. He should be punished for the atrocities he has committed.

Pragmatically the issue is not as clear cut. If Assad and his family are offered immunity and safe passage to a friendly country then he might actually give up power. If Assad gives up power then the conflict can end sooner and with less bloodshed. That would allow rebuilding to begin sooner and allow refugees to return home.

Is allowing Assad to escape justice worth ending the conflict sooner and saving lives? Or is it better that Assad face justice even if it means the conflict will continue longer?

Morality is simple in a vacuum but in reality morality comes with consequences. Stop and think for a few minutes about morality and the circumstances it may be abridged in your view.