Posted by Joshua on Thursday, January 17th, 2013
Syria: Is It Too Late?
Frederic C. Hof | January 14, 2013
Syria is dying. Bashar al-Assad has made it clear that the price of his removal is the death of the nation. A growing extremist minority in the armed opposition has made it clear that a Syria of citizenship and civil society is, in its view, an abomination to be killed. And those in the middle long begging for Western security assistance are increasingly bemoaning that it is already too late. Between the cold, cynical sectarianism of Assad and the white-hot sectarian hatred of those extremists among his opponents Syria already is all but gone, a body politic as numbingly cold and colorless as the harsh wintry hell bringing misery and hopelessness to untold numbers of displaced Syrians…..
And yet, what if the arm’s length approach to the armed Syrian opposition is precisely the wrong medicine for a patient at or near death’s door? What if an approach seen by its advocates as the very epitome of prudence is in fact the opposite? What if the United States can help shape a decent, civilized outcome in Syria by providing security assistance to select opposition elements, and do so with no US boots on the ground? What if it can help in the context of lethality but consciously elects not to?….
In a recent article, I urged the Syrian Opposition Council and Supreme Military Council to cooperate in forming a provisional government, one offering an alternative to the regime by standing up for Syria’s minorities and for democratic, civil society based on the supremacy of citizenship. A person prominent in Syrian opposition affairs wrote soon thereafter to say that the appetite for a provisional government was being dampened by the fear of insufficient material support from the West, a deficit that would cause its rapid failure and permanent loss of credibility, all for the benefit of Assad. To be sure there are many ways to articulate the “it’s too late” mantra. What they all have in common is the view that American actions will never match American words.
In truth the American taxpayer has hardly been AWOL from Syria’s struggle, as the United States leads the world in providing humanitarian assistance to desperately needy Syrians….Syria’s fate will likely be decided by men with guns. If a firm, irrevocable decision is in place that the United States will not play in this arena, then it may indeed be too late for Syria as the Assad/al-Qaeda tag team crowds out all other opponents from the ring, making Syria ungovernable, 22.5 million Syrians vulnerable, and neighboring states fully exposed to a catastrophe that could persist for decades.
Brookings: The Road Beyond Damascus
If the United States does not take on a more active leadership role in Syria, the country will become a failed state, a second Somalia in the heartland of the Middle East. Michael Doran and Salman Shaikh drafted this memorandum to President Obama as …
- How can the U.S. provide greater leadership and concrete assistance without direct military intervention?
- What countries should be part of an American-led international support group?
- How should President Obama engage with Russia President Vladamir Putin, who wants Assad as part of transition talks?
….through active intervention you can help ensure a more stable transition to a post-Assad order that will provide a better future for the Syrian people and a strategic gain for the United States and its regional friends.In your first term, when it came to the Syrian revolution, you wagered that the risks of active intervention outweighed the risks of a more cautious approach. Now, however, we believe the massive toll of civilian casualties, the dismemberment of the country, and the intensification of the conflict along sectarian lines dictate a revisiting of your decision.
To stave off disaster and play a leadership role in shaping Syria’s future, the United States should provide lethal assistance to the Syrian opposition, forge a genuine national dialogue that includes Alawis and Christians, and create an International Steering Group (ISG) to oversee and lend support to the transitional process, including the creation of an international stabilization force to provide protection to Syrian civilians. You will need to engage directly with President Putin to overcome already weakening Russian resistance to these essential endeavors.
Marlin Dick of the Daily Star tries to nail down the truth about a recent rebel offensive in Suweida, the capital of the Jabal Druze region.
Rebel fighters in a neighborhood of Damascus on Tuesday. Many Syrians remain wary of the opposition and its assurances of how it would govern the country.
By ANNE BARNARD
Published: January 15, 2013
Syrian opposition leaders in exile have repeatedly offered promises that a future Syria will guarantee equal rights to all citizens regardless of religion and ethnicity, including members of President Assad’s minority Alawite sect, and that government officials without “blood on their hands” will be safe. But that has done little to win the allegiance of a significant bloc of Syrians who are wary of the uprising.
“The opposition is in fact helping to hold the regime together,” said Peter Harling, an analyst with the International Crisis Group who meets in Syria with people on all sides of the conflict. “It seems to have no strategy to speak of when it comes to preserving what’s left of the state, wooing the Alawites within the regime or reaching out to those who don’t know who to hate most, the regime or the opposition.”…
Consulate Supported Claim of Syria Gas Attack, Report Says
By MICHAEL R. GORDON: January 15, 2013
WASHINGTON — A State Department cable asserted that Syrian forces might have used poison gas in December, according to a report by Foreignpolicy.com on Tuesday.
The classified cable was sent by the United States consul general in Istanbul, according to the Web site, and it discussed a consulate investigation into allegations that chemical weapons were used in the city of Homs on Dec. 23…. President Obama has said the use of chemical weapons by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad would cross a “red line” and possibly set off American military intervention.
CNN: Gruesome toll of Syria cluster bombs
It was cloudy the afternoon of January 3 when residents say the cluster bombs fell on the Syrian town of Latamneh.