News / Middle East

Few Options for US to End Fighting in Syria

In statements at home and abroad, the Obama administration has made its policies toward the Syrian government clear: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go. 

"Our goal is to hasten the end of the bloodshed and the Assad regime," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a recent trip to Turkey. "That is our strategic goal.”

But analysts say the U.S. is nowhere near achieving that goal.

The U.S. rhetoric has done little to help rebel forces who have been fighting Syrian government troops for nearly 18 months, and there is no sign that either side will put down their weapons.

U.S. options few

Analysts say at this stage, no one is really calling for a military intervention. But President Barack Obama has threatened the use of military force if the Syrian government were to use chemical weapons during its fight against the insurgents. 

Some U.S. politicians are talking about another option - setting up a no-fly zone over Syria, similar to the one put in place in the Libyan conflict.

But experts also say such an endeavor would not be sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council, since Russia has made clear it would veto any resolution calling for a no-fly zone. Moscow and China have already vetoed several resolutions urging Mr. Assad to step down.

Some analysts say the lightly armed rebels must get more weapons in order to adequately fight the well-equipped Syrian army. 

Several Western nations, including the United States and Britain, have been providing the Syrian opposition with non-lethal assistance, such as communications equipment, medical supplies and water purification kits. 

Arming insurgents may backfire 

Reports also indicate countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia are either providing funds to various rebel groups to purchase weapons, or are directly supplying them with arms.

But Nadim Shehadi, a Middle East expert with London’s Chatham House, said providing weapons to the insurgents may be a bad move.

“It will backfire, because all these groups that are being armed now, whether for a good cause or not, will have to be disarmed later and that will be a very difficult process,” he said. “A direct military intervention has more legality. It’s easier to get rid of an occupying force than to dismantle militias later.”

Shehadi and others believe the United States must play a leading role now in finding a solution to the Syrian conflict. But others say nothing will happen until after the November presidential election - and even later, in January, when the winner of the election takes office.

View Latest Images

  • Free Syrian Army fighters run to take cover from fire from regime forces in the Seif El Dawla neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, August 24, 2012.
  • Buildings that were damaged after an exchange of fire between Free Syrian Army fighters with regime forces in the Seif El Dawla neighborhood Aleppo.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter runs to take cover from fire from regime forces in Seif El Dawla, August 24, 2012.
  • A Syrian man takes refuge at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing in Azaz, August 23, 2012. Thousands of Syrians who have been displaced are struggling to find safe shelter while shelling and airstrikes continue.
  • A Syrian girl who fled her home with her family due to fighting in Syria sleeps by her family's belongings at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing in Azaz, in hopes of entering one of the refugee camps in Turkey, August 23, 2012.
  • Members of the Free Syrian Army clash with Syrian army soldiers in Aleppo's Saif al-Dawla district, August 22, 2012.
  • Sunni gunmen sit on a street where clashes erupted between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime in Tripoli, Lebanon, Aug. 22, 2012.
  • Members of the Free Syrian Army take cover inside a house during clashes with Syrian army soldiers in Aleppo's Saif al-Dawla district, August 22, 2012.
  • Children play on a swing in the center of Aleppo city, August 22, 2012.
  • A Syrian rebel fighter stands guard in Saif al-Dawla district of Aleppo city, August 22, 2012.

Assad will fight to the end 

Fawaz Gerges, a Middle East expert with the London School of Economics, believes President Assad will fight to the bitter end.

“All the indicators seem to clearly show that he is hunkering down for the long haul," he said. “Not only he does not believe that he will meet the same fate as the Libyan president, Assad and his supporters and his regional allies, particularly Iran, believe that he has the momentum, he can still defeat the opposition. Barring an international military intervention, Assad will be able to survive for a long time.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton sees another possible way out for Mr. Assad.

“You can make an argument that it’s more humanitarian, it would save more lives and cause less economic chaos for Syria, to allow Assad and his family to escape, to take some of their money with them in order to end the conflict sooner," Bolton said. “But who can guarantee security for Assad? If he doesn’t feel that he can get such a guarantee, he may well conclude he might as well fight right to the end. That certainly appears to be what he and his regime are doing right now.”

 

Loading...

Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

You May Like

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid