Writing in today’s Washington Post, David Ignatius suggests:
Maybe it’s time for Syrian revolutionaries to take “yes” for an answer from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and back a U.N.-sponsored “managed transition” of power there, rather than rolling on toward a civil war that will bring more death and destruction for the region.
I couldn’t agree more. Already the Times is reporting widespread cases of sectarian violence pitting neighbor against neighbor.
Syria, like its neighbors Lebanon and Iraq before it, is perched at the brink of civil war. So many people could die in a Syrian civil war that it would make the thousands dead so far look like a small down payment. Problem is, the Syrian opposition, badly divided and apparently dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, is either unwilling or incapable of making a deal.
Maybe it’s true that President Assad is only stalling for time when he says that he accepts the UN-brokered plan for a ceasefire and steps toward transition. But Assad has seemingly taken control of many of the hot spots, and there are few signs that his support among the Syrian security forces is ebbing. He’s got to keep one eye on Iran, his chief backer, which is reportedly considering hedging its bets. And Russia and China, who’ve opposed Western military action and calls for regime change, have been persuaded to support the UN plan.
It seems worth a try. The Obama administration, which continues to seek to work with Russia, is hoping for the best. So far, President Obama isn’t paying any attention at all to the likes of war-crazed fanatics such as Senator John McCain and his allies, the neoconservatives. McCain, Joe Lieberman and other senators are pushing radical legislation to demand US support for the rebels. But, worryingly, the United States is still edging closer to providing aid to the Syrian rebels, whoever they are.
As AP reports:
Despite U.S. and Arab assertions about the inevitability of the Assad regime’s fall, it is prevailing militarily and maintaining some support among Syrian minorities and even the Sunni business community. Defections have proved fewer than anticipated, and there’s little evidence to back Clinton’s prediction a month ago about a possible military coup.