News / Middle East

Analysts: Hardline Assad Backers Likely Dismayed Over International Diplomacy

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gestures during an interview in Damascus in this in this handout photo distributed by Syria's national news agency SANA, Sept. 2, 2013.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gestures during an interview in Damascus in this in this handout photo distributed by Syria's national news agency SANA, Sept. 2, 2013.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s acceptance in principle of a Russian proposal to place his deadly chemical weapons under international supervision is likely facing resistance from his own military, analysts say. But Assad may have had little choice because of Iranian and Russian pressure.

Civilian supporters in Damascus of President Bashar al-Assad expressed relief this week when he accepted a Russian proposal to place his regime’s chemical weapons under international supervision.

His acceptance has led to international diplomacy which has put off U.S. plans for a strike against Syrian forces for their alleged chemical attack last mount outside Damascus.

For the respite civilians were thankful. But not everyone in the Assad regime is pleased.

Observers of the Syrian military establishment said hardliners would likely resist as international diplomacy advanced.

Aram Nerguizian is with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.

“You are certainly going to see some consternation within the regime. I have no doubt there will be pushback within the security establishment on issues like giving up a trump card, chemical weapons,” said Nerguizian.

Yezid Sayigh, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment’s Middle East Center, agreed.

“For some of the regime, the mere fact of losing the chemical weapons capability, which could be the outcome of this, might be something they see as very dangerous and threatening,” said Sayigh.

This image provided by Shaam News Network Aug. 22, 2013, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, purports to show several bodies being buried in a suburb of Damascus, Syria during a funeral on Aug. 21, 2013.This image provided by Shaam News Network Aug. 22, 2013, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, purports to show several bodies being buried in a suburb of Damascus, Syria during a funeral on Aug. 21, 2013.
x
This image provided by Shaam News Network Aug. 22, 2013, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, purports to show several bodies being buried in a suburb of Damascus, Syria during a funeral on Aug. 21, 2013.
This image provided by Shaam News Network Aug. 22, 2013, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, purports to show several bodies being buried in a suburb of Damascus, Syria during a funeral on Aug. 21, 2013.
While acknowledging it was difficult to know what went on inside Assad's secretive inner-circles, Sayigh believed the Syrian president may be blaming his military chiefs for the alleged August 21 attack, the largest use so far of nerve agents in the two-and-half year civil war.

The Assad regime denied orchestrating that attack and blamed the rebels. The U.S. said it was sure Syrian forces carried out the attack, which it said killed 1,400 people.

Human rights groups said there have been previous chemical attacks by Syrian government forces during the war. But they said these attacks were smaller in scale, resulting in fewer casualties.

Some experts suspected last month's attack may have been misjudged in terms of trajectories and wind conditions and the amount of nerve agent used. If so, it allowed Assad to place blame on his military, Sayigh said.

He said, “If this was a case of a military operation and there was a misjudgment resulting in unexpected and unplanned and unwanted civilian casualties, then Bashar al-Assad might turn around and say ‘you guys overplayed your hand; you got your trajectories wrong.’ He could say ‘well, it is your stupidity that put us here and this is now a matter of damage limitation.’”

While international negotiations were under way, analysts said some in the Syrian security establishment would urge Assad to defy the U.S. and let the Americans strike, said military expert Nerguizian. But, he said, there would be countervailing pressure on Assad from his foreign backers, Russia and Iran.

“The forces that are in the Assad regime can compete, can disagree, but it is very clear to most observers that this is something that enjoys the full backing of Iran, enjoys the full backing of Moscow, at least in terms of rhetoric and as a mechanism for de-escalating tensions,” said Nerguizian.

Russian and Iranian patronage is crucial for the survival of the Assad government. Russia said there was "every reason" to blame rebels for the chemical attacks. And Iran has urged West to seek a diplomatic settlement of Syria crisis.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid