News / Middle East

Analysts: In Syria, Few Arab Spring Lessons Apply

Elizabeth Arrott
CAIRO - In the past year and a half, uprisings across the Arab world have toppled four men whose rule had lasted decades.

Tunisia's Zine el Abidine Ben Ali fled into exile in Saudi Arabia.

Libya's Moammar Gadhafi held on longer, but with NATO intervention was forced underground and eventually killed by his own people.

In Yemen, a diplomatic solution ended the standoff; a regional deal pushed a reluctant Ali Abdullah Saleh to hand power to his deputy.

The life sentence handed down on Saturday to Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, who resigned last year amid mass protest, offers the latest case study of Arab autocrats versus the people.

What does this all mean in terms of resolving the violence in Syria after its Arab Spring uprising? Likely not much, analysts say.

Situations differ

Nadim Shehadi of London-based Chatham House says the history of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, like Libya's Gadhafi, is different from the leaders ousted in Tunisia and Egypt.

"It's too late for President Bashar al-Assad to follow the footsteps of either Ben Ali or of Mubarak because he doesn't even acknowledge the existence of an opposition and he is still fighting it all the way," he says. "So, his choice is either an end like Gadhafi, or have an Ali Abdullah Saleh kind of deal."

Arab leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council were able, after several false promises from the Yemeni president, to ensure a handover of power to his deputy.

In recent weeks, the Yemen model has gained traction in the international community, as other diplomatic efforts founder.

Shehadi says it is probably not realistic.

“I find that it is going to be very difficult to do a deal with President Assad because I think the international community has lost faith in anything he says," he says. "So, there isn't enough trust to make a deal with him. Even President Ali Abdullah Saleh kept playing games after he made the deal. And he is still playing games.”

Assad exile unlikely

Cairo-based political analyst Hisham Kassem agrees that the Yemen model holds little hope for Syria. He argues that the idea of exile, like Ben Ali, could once have been a possibility, with President Assad finding refuge in ally Iran.

But Kassem thinks that moment has passed.

“Maybe Bashar now is wondering whether he should have followed Ben Ali's model some time ago, you see, because Bashar can only stay in power through blood," he says. "So, maybe it is too late and he could be thinking if he did not make a mistake by following the Ben Ali's model.”

Like many analysts, Kassem has little hope for a diplomatic solution.

“I don't think at this point Bashar is observing or trying to learn more," he says. "He is becoming one-track minded and he knows that nothing can save him unless he continues with this massacre and wins.”

If President Assad's rule does come to a forced end, Kassem says the Syrian leader is likely to face a situation similar to Gadhafi's.

And that, he says, is something Assad knows.

VOA's Japhet Weeks contributed to this story from Cairo.

You May Like

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Tour Will Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

US secretary of state to visit 5 countries in the Middle East, South Asia in bid to strengthen economic and security ties, ease concerns over deal with Tehran More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs