Is the Wind Turning in Favor of Assad?

(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Jacques Neriah - The withdrawal of the Syrian rebels under pressure from government troops from the Baba Amro district of Homs on March 1 may have marked a turning point in the year-long bloody battle between opposition forces and Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. The recent split in the ranks of the Syrian National Council (SNC), the de facto political opposition group, is unlikely to entice the many Syrians who are fearful of the post-Assad reality. As calls mount to arm the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the need for political oversight of any arms supplies is likely to be a key condition for such a move. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it was untimely to consider arming the rebels "because I would challenge anyone to clearly identify for me the opposition movement in Syria at this point." Assad interpreted the Russian and Chinese veto at the UN Security Council as a license to proceed and quell the resistance against his regime at all costs. At this particular moment the Russians believe Assad still has a chance of survival and to subdue his adversaries. As for the reasons behind Russia's behavior, as Daniel Treisman, Professor of Political Science at UCLA, correctly asserts, "From Moscow, it is easy to see a pattern in the repeated use of force to overthrow leaders - from Afghanistan and Iraq to Libya - and diplomatic pressure to dislodge others - in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen." The U.S. lifted a ban on military aid to President Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan, which had butchered its own protesters a few years earlier, and did not ask King Hamad of Bahrain to step down after he crushed popular demonstrations in his capital. The writer was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.

2012-03-07 00:00:00

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