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 Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More