The killing has not stopped. Some reports put the number at more than 1010,000 died in this butchery. The daily coverage of the actual war as against the destruction of the chemical weapons has recently been largely hidden especially by the TV media giants. And the diplomatic tract is in some disarray since the Syrian rebel groups who are themselves disunited and remain adamant that they will not negociate with the Assad regime, while the Assad regime insists that Assad will stay under any agreement. The Russians also seem to still support this outcome but might if events change, also seek for a more modest solution.


Thus Geneva II meeting which aims towards establishing a peace and a new governance modal with new leaders hopefully in place of Assad, with the consent of all major parties and their participation in a new provisional government, remains in limbo and indeed some question if it will ever take place.




This creates both a quandary for all sides. America is still not giving enough weapons to the moderate rebels, to help the tide against Assad, This has given no incentive to Assad and his regime, to seek a true compromise. The rebel jahadist remain a growing power with control over large areas of Syria and consolidating their power in those regions.


It is reported that the British Foreign Office stated that despite the progress on chemical weapons “the [Assad] government continues to use artillery air power and “siege tactics” against civilians.” Some also have predicated that this war could continue for years.

In short, there appears to be no end to the civil war and the humanitarian disaster that it has become. The prospects are that it might get worse and spread even more throughout the region.


If Geneva II drags on and there is no early hope for both the conference and any kind of meaningful solution, then it is time to look at Plan B and even Plan C. It is intolerable to await until mid-2014 when the chemical weapons are due to be destroyed. Already there are signs that Syria might be asking for maintaining some of its chemical facilities and some believe it might be an effort to delay the whole process while Assad continues his attacks on civilians and the rebels. The time has come for the NATO nations and the other “Friends of Syria” group to put in place actively another option which like the earlier threat to attack Assad’s WMD capabilities, forced both Assad and Russia to find an agreement that sidestepped that threat. That means real threats again that are realistic and creditable. It does not mean U.S. Troops on the ground.


First, there is need to put on the table now the outlines of a strategy that would be put in place if the killing does not stop soon or there is a dely in the destruction of the chemical stocks. The first demand by America, and if possible Russia, and others should be to require an immediate “cease fire” and the intervention of armed and robust multinational peacekeepers that will both enforce the cease-fire and also defend civilians against revenge attacks and reprisals.


Second and importantly, there is a need for the countries that have said they would help the refugees both in and outside Syria to put finally the necessary money on the table that they have been unwilling to do so far. That includes the French, the Germans, and most of the Arab nations. These acts would decrease also the threats to Syria’s neighbors who have given refuge to Syrians and those displaced within the country. The pressures of the influx and its costs could destabilized these nations. The next step would be to put pressure on Iran and Hezbollah to recognized that the continued warfare would jeopardize their perceived long-term interests. In the end some kind of new set of forces need to be created to change the landscape to make all recognized a peaceful compromise solution serves all parties.


The extremist jihadist fighters must also be isolated and in time either sent or forced out of the country or suppressed. They represent a threat to both sides in this war. This may need the support of Russia and, in the end, of Iran. The end game would have to be a Syrian government that represent all groups, that acts to put down inter-communal violence, provides security to all, and is not corrupt and can rebuild the nation. Each side needs to know that it fundamental security and future in the nation is protected.


The failures of the international community to stop the mass killing is tragic and mind-boggling. But the time has come to think through the long-term solution and to start immediately to implement and make real a vision for Syria that will last and be acceptable to its people if not to the extremists of any side.

We welcome your comments!



  1. Harry Blaney November 7, 2013 / 3:58 PM

    From London: The latest news is that Geneva II conference on Syria will be postponed until December at least. This come after both the Syria regime and the divided opposition could not agree on a terms of reference for the meeting. The papers in the UK have reported that hope for some kind of early resolution of the Syria conflict seem very dim. Once again we need to look at other options that will move the playing field towards a more likely cease-fire and the use of peacekeeping forces, a more robust assistance to the moderate opposition, and diplomacy with incentives towards compromise and a new broad based temporary government of national unity.

    But as in America the fighting in Syria is now in the back pages of the journals here and there is little talk of a solution Secretary Kerry is reported on a trip to the Middle East not only to save the peace talks but I hope to examine with our regional allies paths towards the ending fo the civil war in Syria.

  2. Harry Blaney November 3, 2013 / 6:16 PM

    In response to Bruce’s point that an international intervention (peacekeeping/making and humanitarian efforts) will not likely come about: also the same can be said at the moment about the process and path. we are working towards. That includes Geneva II, getting Russia to help push Assad out and go along with a new interim government with power shared by all the main groups, getting rid of the extremists that have entrenched themselves in wide regions of Syria, and getting the divided opposition groups to unite and broaden their base. Not least also is getting the moderate rebels to a point that Assad recognizes he is in the end lost. But frankly, we need to do also most or all of these difficult options also.

    Outside multilateral armed forces and monitors can likely, if given enough resources and a flexible mandate and support of NATO/EU nations including Turkey, the Arab States, and not least added funding from the ley nations and UN agencies that can provide key humanitarian support, re-make the Syria landscape enough to reduce the killing an give the Syrian people room to reconcile and rebuild. Like the threat of force by the U.S. focused the Russians to agree with get ride of chemical weapons (we hope), the idea of an active move to send in a robust intervention force and major military assistance to the moderate rebels but help work towards an agreement and perhaps a cease-fire that might just stop all the butchery.

    The hope I have is that just such a option is being looked at as a “Plan B or C” by the U.S. and our key allies as a way of stopping the killing. But the alternative status quo is unacceptable.

  3. brucevanvoorst November 1, 2013 / 2:11 PM

    An interesting and solid analysis. I’ve heard so much recently about the Syria dilemma, and can’t but help be pessimistic. My gosh, what a conflict of interests.

    I support your suggestion on an international intervention, but don’t really expect anything will come of it.

    In the meantime, I believe the whole human community has a responsibility to help with the refugee problem. Beyond all the dead, there are now tens of thousands of persons suffering.

    I’ve now been out of the hospital for four weeks and am making progress. But it’s so slow.

    Best. Bruce

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