Rhein on Energy and Climate

Syria finds itself in an increasingly murderous civil war.

The majority of the people is suffering from repression and brutal onslaughts by the military and security apparatus, while the Free Syrian Army (FSA). essentially composed of deserted soldiers, is fighting desperately to weaken the regime, blowing up gas pipe-lines and vital infrastructure or killing security agents. This is a very uneven battle, the regime disposing of sophisticated Russian-origin weapons and the FSA of not much more than rifles and explosives.

The outcome of this civil war is open, though most foreign observers have concluded for a long time that the Assad clan cannot survive in face of so much opposition from within and external isolation.

The referendum on a Constitution containing “promises” for a multi-party system to be held February 26, is no more than a farce and a PR operation for Assad`s followers

The international community has blatantly failed.

  • That goes for the UN, due to the Russian and Chinese veto in the Security Council. But even a UNSEC resolution would only show Assad that his regime has become a pariah. but not change the situation on the ground.
  • The Arab League is also at the end of its diplomatic imagination, having to acknowledge that an observer mission is powerless against a regime deadly determined to stay.
  • The Western powers – EU, USA – have succeeded in making life more difficult for the regime by imposing an embargo on trade and financial relations. But as long as Iran and Russia continue to fill the gaps, the sanctions will not bring the regime to its knees.

Any sort of “peaceful outcome” would not hold. Assad jr. will not be able to duplicate his fathers brutal performance in Hama 30 years ago and quash the opposition. Being better prepared and more determined it will neither abandon the arms nor accept to sit down with its butchers and form a “joint government”. It will want to fight this to the bitter end. But the battle will be very long and bloody.

The West and the Arab World have moral and strategic stakes in regime change.

The Assad clan is more brutal and than any Arab regime with the exception of Saddam Hussein; and it constitutes a close ally to Iran.

Diplomatic isolation, economic sanctions and suspension from the Arab League are fine: but they are unlikely to deliver the lethal blow any soon.

The Free Syrian Army, if better equipped with arms, explosives and means of communication, might therefore be more effective and faster than any external actor to do what is necessary.

Let those countries which want the regime to disappear supply the opposition with the means to put up a more balanced fight! The pressure to do so seems to be rising. Let us hope for courageous decisions in a few capitals of the region.

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