Financial Times 
March 25, 2011
Syria should follow Egypt’s lead and the Syrian army should “empower a revolution”, Robert Gates, US secretary of defence, argued as thousands marched in a southern city.
Mr Gates made his comments – some of the toughest remarks to date by a US official about the rule of Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president – on a day of further upheaval in the Middle East and beyond.
The White House signalled it was preparing for a change in power in Yemen, where it has been allied with the government of Ali Abdullah Saleh, president. Nato allies reached a deal in which the alliance will take over command of the Libyan no-fly zone, although responsibility for strikes on forces loyal to Col Muammer Gaddafi will not immediately come under the Nato umbrella.
Drawing a parallel between the unrest in Syria and the protests that unseated Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s former president, Mr Gates said: “I’ve just come from Egypt, where the Egyptian army stood on the sidelines and allowed people to demonstrate and in fact empowered a revolution. The Syrians might take a lesson from that.”