Will global sanctions succeed in Syria? (+video)
The U.S. and its partners are hoping for support from Russia and China to prevent economic support of Assad's government in Syria. The opposition wants Assad to step down; to enable a transition to take place.
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The path to a post-Assad Syria is complicated and treacherous.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Reaching a critical juncture in Syria
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A year after President Barack Obama and many European and Arab leaders issued blanket statements calling for an end to the four-decade Assad dynasty, they now are left looking for piecemeal advances against a regime continuing to command sufficient support — at least to hold on to power, if not snuff out the rebellion — among Syria's minorities, business elite and military.
Syrian opposition groups who gathered with Arab countries earlier this week in Cairo have struggled to find unity. They are hoping their six-page "vision" for transition, complete with details on a new parliament and constitution, will allay fears that the Sunni militants leading the fight against the regime mean to grab all the power.
International sanctions form the second part of the strategy, but the Syrian opposition has been asking for military support. The Obama administration says it won't intervene militarily or provide weapons to the Syrian rebels for what it considers to be an already too militarized conflict.
"I think that we have had 12 kinds of sanctions so far and none of them affected or stopped the killings in Syria," complained Adib Shishakly, a member of the opposition Syrian National Council. "Obviously it is not working," he told The Associated Press. "A different solution needs to be discussed."
Shishakly repeated the opposition's demand that any transition begin with Assad's departure. "We cannot negotiate with the killer," he said.
Trade embargos from the U.S. and others have caused sharp inflation in Syria, but Assad's government still can rely on oil from friendly governments such as Venezuela and cash from Iran, its close ally. Such assistance remains legal, even if Washington and its allies regard it as evidence of complicity in Assad's crimes.
If Russia and China agree, the U.N. Security Council could issue a global ban on these forms of economic assistance, which Assad needs to press on with what he claims is a military battle against criminals and terrorists. Friday's meeting in Paris likely sets the stage for more tough diplomacy ahead.
Associated Press writer Sohrab Monemi contributed to this report.