Attacks continue, people queue up for bread

  • Kyle Schmoyer, Fatih Sahin
  • AP, Ebru News
  • Thu Feb 23rd 2012

As mortar shells from the Syrian army continue to hit a rebel-held area, more people are caught in the cross-fire and finding themselves without basic provisions, including food.

The regime forces have not eased off attacks on opposition forces calling them "terrorists" looking to destabilize the country.

"Things are getting worse in Syria. It's looking like it's breaking down into a civil war." says Simon Reich, professor of global affairs at Rutgers University.

But Professor Reich believes there's one reason it's not an all-out civil war yet. He says "the opposition is not really united and so there's a divide and rule strategy which works for the government at the moment."

That then leaves the world community to try and stop the bloodshed but a UN Security Council resolution for action fell short, Russia and China voting against it. So Professor Reich thinks that "It's hard to see the UN playing a role. This creates a problem for the Europeans and Americans because they could move ahead with a loose coalition but the problem is for them that echoes too closely what happened in Iraq."

Professor Reich also believes that European leaders and the US need each other and must decide if humanitarian intervention out-weighs political pressures at this point. He goes on to say "it's really hard to see how this can move ahead without the US. The Americans have to agree to provide the logistical support."

That's the role the US played in Libya but president Obama still wants official UN support and Reich says that will take compromise; "You have to cut some political deal with the Russians and Chinese, which makes it clear they get some payoff or benefit from this."

Without UN action professor Reich says two wildcards could be Israel taking action itself or with the Arab league urging action Turkey could step in to protect the population. The probability of these happening acording to professor Reich is pretty low but he says one thing he learned in the last 30 years is "always expect the unexpected."

The Syrian government itself has proposed a referendum next week allowing more political voices to challenge Assad's ruling party but the opposition remains firm, it only wants Assad's resignation!

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