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

    Video For Many US Veterans, the Vietnam War Continues

    More than 40 years after it ended, war in Vietnam and America’s role in it continue to provoke bitter debate, especially among those who fought in it

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    100 immigrants graduated Friday as US citizens in New York, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in cities across country

    Family's Fight Pays Off With Arlington Cemetery Burial Rights for WASPs

    Policy that allowed the Women Airforce Service Pilots veterans to receive burial rites at Arlington had been revoked in 2015

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora