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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
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 Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
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 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 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.

VOA Blogs