No 'end game' in Syria, warns professor
THE Syrian conflict, which began in March 2011, is between forces loyal to the Ba'ath government of President Bashar al-Assad and those seeking to oust this regime, said Professor Gordon Cumming, of Cardiff University.
"The Assad government has the support of Russia and Iran as well as Hezbollah, while the rebels enjoy overt military support from Qatar and Saudi Arabia and, quite possibly, covert support from some Western Governments," he said.
"The upside to military intervention is that it would send a clear signal to the Assad government and other rogue regimes that the use of chemical weapons attacks will not be tolerated.
"A strike led by the US would also shore up the credibility of the Obama administration and demonstrate that the West still has the resolve to act in the face of atrocities."
He added: "The downside is that the intervention could make matters worse by causing collateral damage, attracting extremist support to the Syrian cause, provoking some kind of retaliation (in the Middle East or in the West) by Assad or his allies.
"There is no clear end game and there is no doubt that the shadow of both Iraq and Libya hangs over any intervention.
"There is no question that Assad has chemical weapons and that such weapons have been used in the past by Syrian regimes.
"There is, however, a problem when it comes to finding compelling evidence: over 100 chemical sites are dispersed across the country and some may well have fallen into rebel hands.
"Both sides have motives for using such weapons even if the Assad regime is reckoned to be the only side that has the capability of delivering them."