What’s the Latest Development?
Even as Syria’s neighbors begin to rebuke its behavior, President Bashar al-Assad remains defiant. Denouncing the west’s coordinated call for him to step down, Assad maintains that his government is implementing democratic reforms. As U.N. investigators have been allowed back into the country, they are hearing testimony of hurried attempts to clean up government-backed assaults on refugee camps and embattled cities like Hama where innocent civilians have become the target of violent government repression.
What’s the Big Idea?
Given the cautious success of Libyan rebel forces today in Tripoli, will a similar campaign coordinated by western armed forces help to depose Assad? In five months of conflict, an estimated 2,500 civilians have been killed by Syria’s military. But in the wake of Afghanistan and Iraq, the west is more wary than ever of foreign military intervention and, whereas Libyan rebels were pleading for N.A.T.O. assistance, the vast majority of Syrians oppose outside interference. The E.U. is threatening to boycott Syrian oil exports which represents 25% of the country’s economy, effectively crippled since fighting began five months ago.