Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Syria Explosion

The attack today on Syria's governing elite represents another step towards the fall of the Assad regime. As increasing numbers of the Syrian ruling elite and their families come to understand that Assad is finished, they will abandon him for their own safety. This trend has been accelerating in recent days. To add to his troubles, Assad is running out of money and simultaneously is loosing trust in the loyalty of his armed forces. As I have previously argued, the US should seek to provide more support to Syrian rebel groups while building sustained diplomatic pressure on China and Russia. While I believe that it is ultimately inevitable that Assad's regime will collapse, I also believe that there are still substantial risks in the near future. Primarily, if Assad decides to go "all out" against the rebels, he may consider the use of chemical weapons against Syrian urban centers. He also might dramatically increase his use of conventional force against Syrian civilians in a much more indiscriminate way (sadly this is still possible). In each of these two scenarios the US must be ready to provide direct intervention capabilities to prevent huge loss of life. The consequences of Assad using chemical weapons against his own people or allowing those weapons to fall into the hands of hostile entities would be catastrophic.

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