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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs