News / Middle East

    Analysts Weigh In on Longevity of Syria's Assad

    Free Syrian Army fighters pose on a tank after they said they fought and defeated government troops from the town of Ras al-Ain, near the province of Hasaka, 600 kilometers from Damascus, November 22, 2012.Free Syrian Army fighters pose on a tank after they said they fought and defeated government troops from the town of Ras al-Ain, near the province of Hasaka, 600 kilometers from Damascus, November 22, 2012.
    x
    Free Syrian Army fighters pose on a tank after they said they fought and defeated government troops from the town of Ras al-Ain, near the province of Hasaka, 600 kilometers from Damascus, November 22, 2012.
    Free Syrian Army fighters pose on a tank after they said they fought and defeated government troops from the town of Ras al-Ain, near the province of Hasaka, 600 kilometers from Damascus, November 22, 2012.
    Edward Yeranian
    The Syrian conflict is now in its 20th month and Syrian rights activists say more than 40,000 people have been killed there since the uprising began. The embattled government of President Bashar al Assad appears to be on the defensive, having lost a number of military bases recently. Some analysts view these developments as a sign that the fall of his government is not far off, while others see a stalemate and a protracted conflict.

    New amateur video shows a group of rebel fighters capturing an artillery base in the eastern desert province of Deir ez Zor. Rebels and Syrian rights activists say the Mayadeen military base and the surrounding countryside are under rebel control Thursday after days of fighting.

    Rami Abdel Rahman of the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the capture of the artillery base puts large swathes of eastern Syria out of government control.

    • General view of damaged buildings after a Syrian Air Force fighter jet fired missiles at Daria near Damascus, Syria, November 23, 2012.
    • A Syrian man walks in front of his house during heavy rain in the northern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, as seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, November 23, 2012.
    • Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain as gunfire is heard, as seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, November 22, 2012.
    • Members of the Free Syrian Army in the northern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, as seen from Turkey's Sanliurfa province, November 22, 2012.
    • Syrian refugees in the northern Syrian town Ras al-Ain run to cross the border fence into Turkey during gunfire, as seen from Turkey's Sanliurfa province, November 22, 2012.
    • This Shaam news network image shows residents carrying the bodies of men activists say were killed during shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, Damascus, Syria, November 22, 2012.
    • Syrian army soldier prisoners stand near ammunition after Syrian fighters took over the military base in Aleppo, November 19, 2012.
    • Syrian fighters stand guard in front of a destroyed building at a military base they took over from the Syrian army in Aleppo, November 19, 2012.
    • A girl sits on a railway track as she looks to cross the border fence from Ras al-Ain into Turkey, November 20, 2012.
    • Turkish soldiers take up position at the border town of Ceylanpinar, Turkey, November 20, 2012.
    • Residents walk near buildings damaged after shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, near Damascus, November 19, 2012.
    • Syrian fighters celebrate the victory on top of a tank they took after storming a military base in Aleppo, November 19, 2012.
    • A rebel fighter prepares to fire a homemade rocket towards a Syrian air force compound on the outskirts of Aleppo, November 17, 2012.

    Claiming territory

    He said that rebel fighters gained control of the artillery battalion in Mayideen after a three-week siege of government soldiers. This, he said, gives the rebels large chunks of territory east of the Iraqi border.

    Rebel fighters also recently captured an anti-aircraft defense base in southern Damascus, as well as an artillery battalion near Aleppo. The rebels, however, failed in their attempt to capture an air base in Aleppo province after heavy government aerial bombing.

    Abdel Rahman said battlelines inside Syria's commercial hub city of Aleppo remain static, despite ongoing clashes between rebels and government troops in a number of places.

    Workers in Aleppo clear rubble from a collapsed building after government warplanes bombed it. Witnesses say the collapsed building is adjacent to one of the few remaining medical clinics, forcing it to shut down.

    Nasty offensive

    The Syrian government defends its actions by saying it is fighting terrorists.

    But opposition leaders and human rights groups accuse the government of deliberately targeting hospitals and bakeries. The International Committee of the Red Cross also accuses the government of preventing aid supplies from reaching large parts of the country.

    Humanitarian groups say the conflict has displaced more than million people inside Syria, while three quarters of a million have sought refuge in neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

    As civilians continue to suffer from the long-running conflict, some analysts, like Hilal Khashan at the American University of Beirut, think that the government's position is eroding quickly.

    Varying assessments

    In an email to VOA he wrote that the Assad regime "is losing ground on all fronts" and that "the small core of supporters around the president has chosen to fight to the bitter end." He said the regime is beyond its tipping point and that the "countdown toward its demise has already gone a significant way."

    Analyst Nadim Shehadi of Chatham House in London, however, thinks the military situation in Syria remains a stalemate, but argues that waiting for one side to triumph is dangerous.

    "I don't think that it's wise to wait for a military victory on either side. The longer this goes on, the worse things are and the more difficult the transition will be later, and the more difficult it will be for Syria to recover from this," said Shehadi.

    Shehadi believes the international community needs to do more to support the newly formed Syrian opposition council in order to prevent extremists from gaining ground inside the country. "The longer this [conflict] goes on," he said, "the more extremists will be empowered and play a [larger] role."

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Dolly from: tLkSrfinDhyAoORkV
    November 28, 2012 7:42 PM
    Intelligence and sipmliicty - easy to understand how you think.

    by: Anonymous
    November 25, 2012 1:35 PM
    Once it is determined where exactly Assad is hiding, then the war will be coming to an end. If Assad is such a brave boy, why doesn't he announce where he is located?

    by: John George
    November 24, 2012 4:15 PM
    why, and i do't understand, isn't syria's president being charged for war crimes against his own people? he's going to lose, the opposition is getting stinger and stronger, but i still want to know about him not being charged! you charge anyone else with war crimes but bit him? something is very wrong!

    by: John-Albert Eadie from: Canada
    November 24, 2012 12:04 PM
    Voice of America - how long has Assad got = Voice of Vultures.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    November 25, 2012 1:34 PM
    Everyone knows it could be anytime, as soon as the people of Syria find Assad in his hiding spot. Then will be judgement day.

    by: Jethro Mayham
    November 24, 2012 1:27 AM
    40k in 20 months is so small to speak of. In mother Russia, we lost that many patriots in a single day. And we still under estimated what our casualties would have been the previous night.

    We were so happy we drank Vodka and celebrate.
    Joe Stalin

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.