Twin bombings shake Syrian capital as UN debates how to end the fighting (+video)
Rebels said the explosions, felt throughout Damascus, hit Syria's military headquarters and caused dozens of casualties. But a regime spokesman claimed there was only 'material damage.'
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President Obama noted in his address to the General Assembly that the future of Syria “must not belong to a dictator who massacres his people,” and the emir of Qatar called on all Arab nations to form a coalition to intervene in Syria.Skip to next paragraph
Latin America Editor
Whitney Eulich is the Monitor's Latin America editor, overseeing regional coverage for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She also curates the Latin America Monitor Blog.
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“We have used all available means to get Syria out of the cycle of killing, but that was in vain,” the emir, Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani, said in an address to the U.N. General Assembly. “In view of this, I think it is better for the Arab countries themselves to interfere out of their national, humanitarian, political and military duties and do what is necessary to stop the bloodshed in Syria.”
Though the emir’s proposed military approach goes directly against the UN’s calls for resolving the conflict – which has killed between 20,000 and 30,000 people according to the UN and watchdog groups – through mediation and negotiations, it is an approach some say is time to explore 18 months after the increasingly deadly conflict began.
According to USA Today contributor and Truman National Security Project fellow Lionel Beehner, many in the international community seem to approach the conflict through the lens that Assad and his regime are floundering. As Assad gives all he can to hold on to power, the conflict rages on, and “Some Western policymakers have noted that this could be the desperate tactic of a regime in its final throes,” Mr. Beehner writes. But that “raises the question: Can Bashar Assad succeed?”
Some have assumed that Assad's fall is a foregone conclusion. But few have asked: What if he succeeds? Barring a major intervention, the balance of power will likely remain in Assad's favor. The Free Syrian Army cannot defend population centers with its current arms or finances. The U.S. has signaled it will not intervene, unless Assad uses chemical weapons, an unlikely scenario. The longer civil wars drag on, the more likely the government prevails.
After the success of the troop surge in the Iraq War, Americans seem to believe that winning hearts and minds is the sole path to victory in counterinsurgencies. But most autocratic regimes care little about winning over populations. They care about eradicating the enemy and remaining in power. Indeed, an Assad stalemate would be catastrophic…. It would embolden Assad, and push his regime even further into the hands of Iraq and Iran, which would further divide the Arab world along sectarian lines. Finally, it would provide a dangerous template for future regimes dealing with popular uprisings: Just hold out long enough, employ indiscriminate force and victory will be assured.
The use of such indiscriminate violence by the Assad regime suggests the civil war in Syria has entered a new stage. While this kind of counterinsurgency could widen the opposition and draw more opprobrium from abroad, this might not be enough to unseat Assad, short of a Libya-style intervention. Hence, Washington would be wise to have a plan in place should Assad win the war.