Some new developments on the Syria front—none good for Bashar al-Assad’s longevity. First, Turkey unveiled new sanctions against Syria “including a freeze on Syrian assets in Turkey and a ban on transactions with the Syrian central bank.” Second, the Turks are beginning to talk seriously about armed intervention to create “humanitarian corridors” or otherwise alleviate the suffering caused by Assad’s regime—which would also have the effect of empowering the Free Syrian
Army which is fighting to bring it down.
Jeff White, a sober and serious 34-year veteran of the Defense Intelligence Agency now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, has a good backgrounder on the Free Syrian Army. His conclusions are worth heeding:
Because the FSA is an increasingly important player that will likely influence the outcome of events in Syria, the United States and its partners should make contact with its members and learn as much as possible about the group. Questions concerning its nature, its potential as an armed force, and the role of Islamists can be resolved through such contact as well as intelligence work. If the results are positive, then the FSA should be assisted wherever outside aid would be both possible and effective. Arms, advice, training, and money could be provided through clandestine channels, if nothing else. These modest steps could help provide the Syrian people with a means of self-defense, give the United States additional influence on the situation, and put further pressure on the regime and its forces, perhaps hastening the conflict’s end.
Sounds like good advice to me—although it will hardly be music to Assad’s ears.