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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora