CFR Daily Brief on Syria
Daily News Brief
July 19, 2012
Syrian Government, Rebels Battle in Damascus
Violent clashes between the Syrian army and opposition forces (al-Jazeera) continued today in the capital of Damascus, a day after a suspected suicide bombing killed three of President Bashar al-Assad’s top military officers. It was the first such attack on the core of the Syrian regime, suggesting a potential turning point in the rebels’ sixteen-month anti-government uprising. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council (CNN) is set to debate and vote on a Western-backed resolution mandating new sanctions on Assad if he fails to halt his crackdown on the opposition, a move that Russia and China are expected to veto.
“After more than a year of being shelled by the regime’s well-equipped military and terrorized by gangs of pro-regime military thugs, the Syrian rebels’ attack was the equivalent of blowing up the Death Star: They not only decapitated the Assad regime’s top security officials, they sent a message that they could reach anyone—and any part of the country. Even if the belief that Assad could fall any day is overblown, it is clear that his hold on power is shakier than ever,” writes Mitchell Prothero for ForeignPolicy.com.
“What is clear is that any chance that the United States and other Western powers could still facilitate a diplomatic solution is rapidly fading, largely because of months of Russian intransigence. Everyone’s concern should be the thousands of Syrian civilians who have died at Mr. Assad’s hand and the thousands more still hounded by his security forces with helicopters and tanks,” says this New York Times editorial.
“Still, there is a long history of rebel groups breaching a capital city, or even killing top regime officials, and ultimately losing. Three of the bloodiest, nastiest civil wars of the 1990s saw days like today, and all three ended with the government staying in power and the rebels, for all their bombings and advances, defeated,” writes the Atlantic’s Max Fisher.