Is Assad losing Syria? As concerns grow, US urges halt to 'intimidation.'
A realization appears to be growing in the West and the Middle East that Assad's regime is falling apart amid its crackdown on dissent. The State Department urges him to accept political dialogue.
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But some Middle East experts say they have detected a shift in thinking among some US officials toward the idea that Assad is bungling his challenge and causing his own demise.Skip to next paragraph
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“There are a number of people in the US government who think the Syrian government is crumbling from within,” says Patrick Clawson, director of research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Assad is seen to be gradually losing control of the state’s security forces as he stretches the special units in his control to confront mushrooming protests, Mr. Clawson says. And that, he adds, is leading people to wonder how or if he can recover.
“The special units have not been able to bring things under control,” he says, “and to the extent they’re in the whack-a-mole game, they’re in a big problem.”
Turkey is a prime example of a friend Assad could have used in the international community, but which he has now lost. Not only has the Turkish government referred to Assad’s repression of protesters as “savagery,” but it is now threatening to enter Syria to create a buffer zone to insulate itself from a further onslaught of refugees.
But that seems unlikely to happen, perhaps because Colonel Qaddafi suffered that fate first. According to the European official, Syria is not a party to the statute that created the ICC, and so is not subject to its indictments.
The UN Security Council could refer the Syria case and Assad specifically to the ICC. But that is the avenue by which Qaddafi was recently hit with an ICC indictment, and some Security Council members – notably Russia – have since got cold feet about aggressive Security Council action against leaders facing domestic political uprisings.
France and Britain, joined by the US, continue to want a Security Council resolution on Syria, but officials from both European governments acknowledge that resistance on the council to such action continues to put off a council vote.
The Europeans do not believe that the continuing violence in Syria has as yet altered what one official calls the “dynamics” at the UN.