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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid