December 7, 2012
Syria's 20-month-long civil war appears to be approaching a tipping point as fighting around Damascus intensifies amid signs that President Bashar Assad's grip on power may be weakening. As the final phase in the long conflict apparently draws nearer, the U.S. needs be prepared for the challenges it will face in a post-Assad Syria that, like Libya, could well remain unsettled for years after the dictator's departure. In recent weeks, Syrian rebels have captured a number of strategic military bases and weapons dumps, allowing them to press their advantage.
August 16, 2012
A recent intelligence leak confirms something that regular readers of this column already know: that the Obama administration has officially authorized covert support of local "rebel" groups, through government agencies like the CIA, with the goal of destabilizing and subverting the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. The interesting consequence is that al-Qaida is likely among the groups President Obama's directive now supports. Just think about this for a minute. The president of the United States, according to an intelligence leak initially reported by Reuters, has secretly authorized support of an undisclosed nature for armed fighters in a region, including members of the group now synonymous with terrorism against American and Western interests in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
August 8, 2012
The defection of Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab this week is the latest blow to President Bashir Assad's increasingly desperate struggle to remain in office. Mr. Hijab was the highest-ranking Sunni member of the government, which is dominated by Mr. Assad's minority Alawite sect, as well as the highest-ranking government official to renounce his position so far. While the departure is not expected to cause the government to collapse, it does signal a weakening of the Sunni majority's loyalty to Assad regime.
July 19, 2012
Today's decision by Russia and China to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on the brutal regime in Syria is, at most, a hollow victory for President Bashar Assad. Russian officials say they opposed the measure for fear that it would lead to regime change, possibly with the assistance of western military forces, as in Libya. But given the events on the ground this week in Syria, the veto appears likely only to ensure that regime change comes through blood and chaos, not diplomacy.
June 13, 2012
Reports that Russia is supplying Syrian President Bashar Assad with attack helicopters for use against rebel fighters and civilian protesters mark an ominous new phase in the country's descent into chaos and civil war. Mr. Assad's escalation from tanks and heavy artillery to aerial assaults threatens to spark a new arms race between the government and its opponents that can only lead to more bloodshed and suffering as long as he remains in power....
June 5, 2012
The international community has to be terminally naive to believe that words and threats that aren't backed up by force will deter Syrian President Bashar Assad from murdering his own people ("Killings intensify Syria crisis," May 31). Even at 10,000 civilians massacred by Syrian government forces, this catastrophe pales in comparison to his father's vendetta, when more than 30,000 Syrians were slaughtered. Both men ruled by the sword; in light of Mr. Assad's continuing support from Iran and Russia, only a military response will lead to the overthrow of this dictator.