Rebels With a Cause, But Not Much Consensus

Syrian opposition fighters are committed to Bashar al-Assad’s ouster, but disagree on just about everything else.


As President Bashar al-Assad’s forces disintegrate, the Syrian civil war is devolving into a battle between Sunni rebel groups and Alawite-dominated militias fighting in support of the old regime. This may increase the rebels’ chances of victory, but it also means that the work to rebuild Syria after Assad falls will be even more challenging. Continue reading

The day I met Syria’s Mr Big

One of the most feared men in Syria before his assassination, Assef Shawkat told me minority rights were a CIA invention., Tuesday 24 July 2012 07.58 EDT

“The country is not ready for revolutions and civil disobedience,” he told me.

“That’s your opinion,” I replied.

“We won’t imprison you and let your friends in America turn you into a hero.” Continue reading

‘The Time for Action has Come’

USA Today

Yes, the United States should intervene in Syria. With so much at stake, in both humanitarian and political terms, the U.S.simply does not have the luxury of inaction. If we allow the war to spiral out of control, the consequences will haunt us for decades to come.

The fighting in Syria will decide the fate not only of one country, but an entire region. In Lebanon, militiamen who support Bashar Assad‘s dictatorship show little respect for international borders as they pursue rebels, and their attacks have polarized the country, leading to clashes in Beirut and Tripoli. Continue reading

No Dialogue With Assad

The New York Times: Room For Debate

In calling for dialogue with Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Damascus, the United Nations Security Council is missing a key point: After killing more than 8,000 civilians, Assad and fellow corrupt authoritarian elites have made it abundantly clear that they will stay in power at any cost, and no international agreement can restore them to domestic legitimacy. Continue reading

How Many Syrians Must Die before a U.S. Intervention?

An intervention in the U.S. Today Debate Club

Many Washingtonians claim that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad has been thrown back against the ropes, boxed in by international sanctions, and growing hordes of protesters whom he cannot contain, no matter how brutally he cracks down on them.

In truth, Assad is hardly alone. Iran and Hezbollah have stood by his side from the first moment, providing intelligence, and by some accounts weapons and other assistance to the loyalist forces. More recently, China and Russia have drawn a line in the sand, refusing to acquiesce to the demise of Assad’s regime, exercising their respective vetoes at the United Nations Security Council. Continue reading

As Syria Violence Continues, World Leaders Do Little

The Washington Post

The United States has closed its embassy in Damascus amid the Syrian ruling junta’s increasingly violent crackdown. As China defends its veto this weekend of a U.N. resolution that might have amounted to nothing more than strong condemnation, the Assad regime, buoyed by continuing Russian and Iranian political and logistical support, including arms shipments, is escalating its murderous rampage. Its goal is to crush the rebellion by brute force; meanwhile, international confusion regarding what can or needs to be done precludes any international effort to protect the protesters. Continue reading