News / Middle East

Syria No-Fly Zone Proposal Lacks Support

A Syrian Air Force fighter jet launches missiles at El Edaa district in Syria's northwestern city of Aleppo, September 1, 2012.
A Syrian Air Force fighter jet launches missiles at El Edaa district in Syria's northwestern city of Aleppo, September 1, 2012.
For months, Syrian opposition forces fighting government troops have been calling - with very little success - for foreign military intervention.

But Western defense experts are debating whether the establishment of a no-fly zone over Syria might get more international support.

Analysts said it is essential to first define the parameters and goals of a no-fly zone - an airspace in which certain aircraft, especially military ones, are forbidden to fly.

Retired Navy Captain Ben Renda flew aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone over northern Iraq in the late 1990s, said "If the goal of the no-fly zone is to be another arm in the rebels' military game plan, that would not be received well."

However, he said "if the no-fly zone is implemented to provide safe havens for refugees, for example, then that would obviously probably garner more international support and be an easier sell both domestically and internationally."

U.N. support not needed

If an international coalition decides to impose and enforce a no-fly zone over Syria, it does not necessarily need the United Nations to approve the action to give it legitimacy.

Experts say there was no U.N. Security Council resolution establishing the no-fly zones over southern and northern Iraq from 1991 to 2003. Those zones were patrolled by the United States and Britain, with some initial help from France.

But last year the Security Council passed a resolution setting up a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians from attacks by the forces of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. At the same time, the resolution authorized member states to "take all necessary measures" to ensure the ban on flights.

Russia and China abstained from voting on the resolution, in essence giving the go ahead for the Libyan no-fly zone. But Moscow and Beijing said the action ultimately led to regime change, an outcome the two countries did not sanction.

Paul Smyth, a British defense expert and a former Royal Air Force navigator in a squadron patrolling the no-fly zone in southern Iraq in the 1990s, said Russia and China are now more cautious.

"The difficulty with Syria compared to Libya, is that whereas Russia and China perhaps gave approval to a resolution for Libya, they found that it was not used in the way that they had hoped it would be used," Smyth said. "I wouldn't say that they had been duped, I wouldn't use that term, but having been bitten in Libya, they are unlikely to repeat the same mistake in Syria."

Russia and China have already vetoed three U.N. Security Council resolutions on Syria, some of them calling for economic sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad's government. Experts say it is highly unlikely Moscow and Beijing would sanction the establishment of a no-fly zone over Syria.

U.N. backing preferred

Sean O'Connor, a military expert who writes for the British publication Jane's, said it would be preferable to get U.N. approval for a Syrian operation.

"Could we do it without U.N. support? Yes, it's possible, we could actually do that," he said. "U.N. support is a political requirement, but not a technical requirement - let's put it that way."

Retired Navy Captain Ben Renda agreed. 

"I would assume that the U.S. does not want to go at it alone, that we want a broader coalition," he said. "If this were to be the plan, you want a broad coalition with everyone contributing - obviously money and forces - to help this be a joint effort… Just as was the case with Libya, having our Arab partners step up to be part of the solution, I think, will be critical."

Analysts said it is unclear whether the international community has the political will to get involved in another conflict, especially at a time when many western countries - including the United States - are cutting their defense budgets.

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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mike from: California
September 14, 2012 3:01 PM
We all know that a no-fly zone would eventually mean either (1) boots on the ground or (2) flying over a victorious Asad army, being unable to provide ground support. Then they would fly home after burning a billion dollars in fuel. So we do nothing until Asad is firmly back in power. Then, the refugees will have to either go home or find a new home in your neighborhood.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid