The “coming hours” will mark a crucial phase in the Syrian conflict and witness developments “the region and the world have not witnessed in years,” according to a leading Syrian opposition figure.
“Wait until tomorrow [Tuesday] and you will hear a very important speech, while in the following three to four days will be filled with developments that the region and the world have not witnessed in years,” the Syrian National Coalition’s Monzer Makhous (above) told Al-Arabiya.
The “very important” speech will come from “Friends of Syria” countries which are “about to execute their humanitarian, moral, and political duties towards Syria,” said Makhous the SNC’s ambassador to Paris.
His comments came amid speculation over pending US military action against the Assad regime following its deployment of chemical weapons against innocent civilians.
A limited strike would allow US President Barack Obama to claim he’s following through on his warning a year ago of “game changing” action if Damascus crossed a “red line” by using chemical weapons, but still allow Assad to continue the war and spread violence into neighboring states, said Tony Badran, an analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
“The casualty toll, the ability of unsavory actors to further entrench themselves, the ability of Assad to consolidate a part of the country under his control and continuing to destabilize neighbors — all that stuff continues to play out” under a limited strike, Badran said.
“A president of the U.S. cannot say something crosses a red line and then go on conducting business as usual,” he wrote in a blog post.
The U.S. squandered an opportunity to intervene in support of moderate pro-democracy opposition factions earlier in the conflict with the result that radical Islamist groups are now in the ascendancy, according to analysts.
“The threats to our interests have only gotten worse, and our inaction has been quite harmful to our interests,” said Michael Singh, managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council.
“There’s no reason to think those consequences won’t continue to worsen, and yet you don’t see any momentum toward any kind of effective action by the United States and our allies to do anything about it,” he said.
A victory by rebel forces would be as detrimental to U.S. interests as the Assad regime’s survival, says Edward Luttwak, a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“Extremist groups, some identified with al-Qaeda, have become the most effective fighting force in Syria,” Luttwak wrote for the New York Times. “If those rebel groups manage to win, they would almost certainly try to form a government hostile to the United States.”
The appropriate course from a range of bad options is to support “an indefinite draw,” he argued:
By tying down Mr. Assad’s army and its Iranian and Hezbollah allies in a war against Al Qaeda-aligned extremist fighters, four of Washington’s enemies will be engaged in war among themselves and prevented from attacking Americans or America’s allies.
That this is now the best option is unfortunate, indeed tragic, but favoring it is not a cruel imposition on the people of Syria, because a great majority of them are facing exactly the same predicament.