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US, allies all but rule out Syria military intervention

The United States and its allies have all but ruled out military action against Damascus despite their success in Libya because Syria's opposition is less organized and faces a much stronger regime.

Analysts said the situation is far less conducive to foreign intervention in Syria, despite the the success of the NATO air campaign that weakened Moammar Qaddafi's defenses and helped Libyan rebels to reach the heart of Tripoli.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland ruled out allied military intervention in Syria if sanctions and diplomatic pressure fail to stop President Bashar al-Assad from using deadly force to crush protests.

The Syrian people "have chosen peaceful means to make their views known to their own government," Nuland told reporters last week, adding they were following the paths of Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

"So military action is not the preferred course of action anyone, not the Syrian people, not the Arab or European or American members of the international community," she said.

In France, which led the charge for military action in Libya, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said there would be no such intervention in Syria even if the rebel advances had what he called "significant consequences" for Damascus.

Anthony Cordesman, a security analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, said the United States and its allies did not have much of a military option in Syria.

"Until you see a real opposition develop in Syria, some kind of movement that has some credible reason to be backed, you can't simply out of context attack Assad's regime because it's repressive," Cordesman said.

Radwan Ziadeh, a US-based Syrian dissident who has met US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said the rebel successes in Libya will spur more calls within Syria for arming the opposition against Assad.

However, he warned that such a move risked sparking a civil war pitting Syria's majority Sunni Muslims and other sects and ethnic groups against Assad's minority Alawite sect.

He said he believes the US government understands the risk and "we share the same opinion on this issue." He added that Syria's neighbors also fear the risk of a civil war that could spread beyond Syria's borders.

Shibley Telhami, a Middle East specialist at the University of Maryland, said the United States and its allies are reluctant to intervene in Syria because, unlike in Libya, there is no Arab support for it.

He warned that the Assad regime could try to portray intervention as an extension of the Arab-Israeli conflict, saying it could trigger unforeseen consequences.

However, he said he could not rule out military intervention at a future date if, for example, there are "large-scale massacres" that cannot be stopped any other way.

-AFP/NOW Lebanon

  • roalnd sarkis

    THEY CAN AT LEAST DESTROY JIBRIL'S PALESTINIANS BUNKERS IN NAAMEH AND WEST-BEKAA! PLEASE! JUST AS A HEAVY AND CLEAR MESSAGE TO THE MARQUIS D'ASSAD?

    August 24, 2011