News / Middle East

Syria Violence May Worsen Post-Assad

Syria Violence May Worsen Post-Assadi
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January 18, 2013 5:27 PM
Syria's civil war drags on, with diplomatic efforts making little headway and, according to the United Nations, more than 60,000 people killed. Experts don't see a quick solution, and believe that even if the rebels succeed in ousting President Bashar al-Assad, the violence could well continue, and even get worse. VOA's Al Pessin reports from London
Syria Violence May Worsen Post-Assad
Al Pessin
Syria's civil war drags on, with diplomatic efforts making little headway and, according to the United Nations, more than 60,000 people killed.  Experts don't see a quick solution, and believe that even if the rebels succeed in ousting President Bashar al-Assad, the violence could well continue, and even get worse.

"Of course, the worst case in Syria is more than imaginable: It's possible," said. Middle East expert Alia Brahimi of the London School of Economics.

"What is looking more likely is that if the regime were to collapse, you would get the worst-case scenario of revenge killings and inter-communal violence.  And you would also probably see violent power struggles from within the victorious opposition, and then of course regional actors coming in to back their own horses," Brahimi.

It's a bleak scenario, but not a surprising one.  Syria is split among Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims, various clans and sects, and Islamic militants and liberals.

"Syria is a crisis that may not be resolved for years to come, precisely because it plays into all these underlying sectarian and regional power struggles," Brahimi said.

Brahimi is referring to Iran, a Shi'ite power that backs Syria's Shi'ite leaders from the Alawite sect -- who in turn facilitate its influence in Lebanon -- and Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states that would like to see a Sunni-led Syria and a weaker Iran.

Beyond that, Western powers would like to see a liberal, democratic Syria, while Russia is determined to protect its influence in the country.

But experts like Chris Doyle, at the Council for Arab-British Understanding, say an extended Syrian civil war is not inevitable if the various domestic and international players can be convinced their interests will be protected.

"If the regime was to fall from power right now there would be a huge power struggle within Syria.  If, however, there is some sort of political solution, a very clear transition process, then there is some chance that Syria can exit this dreadful crisis with something to look forward to," Doyle said.

But that would require agreement on the most contentious issue -- whether President Assad would resign immediately or stay at least for a transitional period.  Neither side is budging on that.

"It's possible to resolve this.  It's just that nobody really wants to at the moment," Brahimi said.

And that means Syrians are likely facing more months, if not years, of fighting -- whether Assad is in office or not.

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by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
January 23, 2013 5:07 PM
The sit in Syria every day hits a new low. We know the conflicted parties, but even the Western block is conflicted on sanctions. As soon as Hezbollah joined the Assad side of the conflict, the US requested the EU for sanctions on the terrorist organization, and the EU, especially Germany from media rpts, refused to sanction Hezbollah. The continued flow of money and other resources from the EU, enables this organization to prop-up Assad. Hezbollah is a very large, very well armed and very experienced fighting group; their ivolvement, buys Assad at least another 10 to 16 months in power. Once again, it shows that the EU has a clear double standard, this failure of the EU to sanction Hezbollah, will translate into potentially another 60,000 to 100,000 dead innocent Syrian civilians. The Arab league has also done nothing about Hezbollah; they could easily bring their case to the EU, but they have not, maybe they also do not realize how much impact Hezbollah has in sustaining Assad, and the continuation of the Syrian conflict.


by: kafantaris from: USA, Ohio
January 21, 2013 1:28 PM
We have become callous to the great suffering of the people of Syria -- just as we had become callous to the great suffering of the Jews of Hitler’s Germany. History will be unkind.
The heck with Russia and China -- these two treat their own people no better.
We need to act now in Syria. And we are already far too late -- just as we were for the Jews.

In Response

by: Anonymous
January 23, 2013 3:58 AM
But Russia is standing in the way, and has been ever since this began. Shame on Russia, an insult to the Syrian Nation, with only interests in Bashar. If it wasn't for Russia this war would of been over many many months ago, and tens of thousands less dead. The world waits anxiously for Bashar to be served Justice and for the Syrian people to move on without him. Cleanup and restoration will take years sadly. It is disgusting what a tyrant can do to a nation, genocide we call it.


by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
January 19, 2013 3:21 PM
The sit in Syria continues to deteriorate at an unprecedented rate. The sit of the civilians juts gets worse and worse; reports of even itra-factional fighting, especially whithin the opposition, to the Assad regime, can only lead to a continuation of this savage war. Past conflicts, in which many ethnic groups are polarized, have shown that- if there is a national authority collapse, the bloodshed will continue for quite some time. The best example of the sit is next door in Iraq; more or less the same main religeous groups are involved. If you look at the long term prospects, just look at Pakistan, were also the same religeous groups are involved. In both Iraq and Pakistan, the Shia population continues to be targeted by extremists; and there is very little reaction from the "civilized world" to the plight of the Shia Muslims.
If you look at the example of the Balkan wars, if the conflicted religeous ethnicities are not separated, the blood shed just continues unabated. At some time in the future, once the past is put behind, it is likely that the separeted ethnic/religeous groups will be able to reform larger multi-state units, like the EU. 70 yrs ago, the EU would have been unimaginable, so many wars were fought in Europe, over milenia, by the different ethnic groups, that the EU is in many ways is a miracle.
It is unfortunate, that the separation, through at least a federal system, was not applied in Iraq. In Syria, a federated state should be considered, at least as a transitional structure, to ensure the post-conflict blood letting does not continue; as it was done in Bosnia-Hersegovina.
It is shear wishful thinking, to expect that a post conflict Syria will be any bettter, than the post-conflict Iraq. It is usually those in majority populations, that are proponents and want to continue a state, which is clearly a state that never really worked for all ethnic groups, in the mix of such nations.
I hope all the conflicted parties, start abiding by international law, wrt the protection of the civilian population; and have some humanitarian compassion and allow for the provision of humanitarian supplies to the trapped civilian population; and better yet, if they would have a temporary cesefire, even on a regional basis, and then to progress to some more permanent ceasefire throughout Syria, followed by a peace agreement/transition/etc.


by: Ed from: Ryad, Saudi Arabia
January 19, 2013 2:05 AM
Of course things will worsen after the regime, because all of the jihadist and muslim backward thinking groups that are fighting in syria coz all of the above want to see Syria as country ruled by muslims only and the shari'a law being implemented which this is ludacris coz shari'a and democracy can't exist together, just look at all the fighting in Africa that is caused by Islamist acting shari'a law. This must stop and bashar al-Assad regime should be backed with western power to end the power struggle and end the infidel jihadist and Islamist.

In Response

by: Tom N Jerry from: Georgia, USA
January 21, 2013 8:55 AM
Look at what we have done in this region. Starting with the over through of Hussein in Iraq, supporting the "Arab spring," all through the region, being a major element in the execution of Kadaffi and finally, encouraging the over through of the Syrian government. In an effort to rid the world of terrorists, the US has created a larger number of terrorists than would have ever been possible without our interference and aid!

In Response

by: Anonymous
January 19, 2013 11:05 PM
Nah Bashar al Assad has killed way too many innocent civilians. He can't be the leader of any country. He must be tried for his murders and served justice. The majority population of Syria would agree. They have been calling for intervention since it started.


by: Anonymous
January 18, 2013 9:11 PM
I don't think anything will be as bad as it is now with Bashar al Assad dropping bombs, shooting missles, and tanks killing innocent civilians. Justice will be served and Syrians will prosper.


by: Murhaf Jouejati from: Washington DC
January 18, 2013 2:50 PM
Those who argue that violence in Syria in the post-Assad era will continue have obviously not consulted "The Day After" project that was put together by a group of Syrian intellectuals.

Murhaf Jouejati
Chairman,
TDA Project

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