• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Morning Bell: Fighting to the Death in Syria

    Fifty-five explosions rocked the city of Homs, Syria, in the span of 15 minutes. Artillery and automatic gunfire pound neighborhoods. Snipers perch on rooftops, firing at civilians. Families crowd in makeshift basement shelters to avoid the violence, and the military is reportedly on a campaign to flatten every single neighborhood where opposition can be found. This is the state of play under Bashar al-Assad’s regime of terror, and those who stand against him have died by the thousands in an 11-month revolt against the government. Amid these horrid conditions, there are actions the United States can and should take to help bring aid to this suffering people.

    The explicit details of the conditions in Homs come from the eyewitness account of CNN correspondent Arwa Damon, one of the few reporters in Syria. “You can just imagine the situation people are under,” she reports, “not just from a dangerous standpoint, but the psychological impact that this is having on these families, these civilians, who are stuck in these areas unable to get to safe ground or unable to get adequate medical treatment should they be hit in these attacks.” The violence has taken its toll. To date, the regime has killed more than 7,000 people, most of whom were unarmed demonstrators, has jailed more than 10,000, and “disappeared” thousands more. Yet opposition to Assad continues in the face of escalating attacks, with some indications that the military is losing ground as the army loses thousands of defectors.

    As the suffering continues, the international community has done precious little to halt the violence. The Arab League sent an observer mission to Syria but withdrew when the Assad regime failed to keep commitments to halt its repression. The United Nations has been ineffectual, with Russia repeatedly vetoing efforts by the Security Council to take action. China, which also vetoed U.N. action, is sending a diplomat to Syria but opposes regime change. And today, the U.N. is scheduled to vote on a resolution to strongly condemn the human rights violations and to back an Arab League plan to end the conflict, but the action would be non-binding, merely sending a message to the Assad regime, with no teeth attached.

    Yesterday, Assad called for a national vote on a new constitution that would create a multiparty system in the country, but it’s too little, too late from the man whose family has ruled the country as an autocracy for 40 years — not to mention the fact that Assad has a long track record of breaking his promises to usher in reforms. Case in point: despite the call for a referendum, forces today began an attack on the city of Daraa. Assad’s belated concessions now are likely to have little effect in stemming the rising tide of opposition, but has been embraced by his close ally Russia, which continues to insist that he is open to political compromise.

    The Heritage Foundation’s James Phillips writes that the Assad regime is on borrowed time — the vast majority of the Syrian military, though hundreds of thousands strong, is becoming increasingly unreliable. The government has only two dependable units — the Republican Guards and the 4th Armored Brigade, both of which are being stretch thin. In short, the beleaguered tyrant is slowly losing his grip on power all while the Free Syrian Army, consisting mostly of military deserters, is becoming a more organized opposition force. Desperate, the Syrian government has turned to Iran, and there are reports that the Quds Force, a special unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, are fighting beside Assad’s forces.

    Amid this environment, Phillips warns that the United States should not supply arms to the resistance or offer direct military intervention — an outside peacekeeping force would only get caught in the conflict and make matters worse. However, he advises that the United States can offer valuable assistance:

    The U.S. can play a constructive role in the conflict by supporting efforts to deliver humanitarian aid. The U.S. should also be working closely with regional partners, especially Turkey, both to help speed the transition to a new, legitimate government and to continue diplomatic pressure and international sanctions against the Assad regime.

    Ultimately, the best way forward will be for the Syrian people to win their own future without direct foreign intervention. It is with great valor that they continue to fight against Assad and to weather the storm of his violent oppression in hopes of a better tomorrow. When the smoke lifts, one can only hope that the cloud of terror and death goes with it, and that a government with true legitimacy is formed.

    Quick Hits:

    Click here to view this post in Spanish at Libertad.org.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    45 Responses to Morning Bell: Fighting to the Death in Syria

    1. Todd says:

      Bashir Assad is a physician–ophthalmologist, I believe.
      If he had any education or training in the United States or Europe, he should be sanctioned severely and stripped of his degree, licensing or any medical credential.

      Physicians must not kill.

    2. Frank says:

      I agree with Heritage that, "Ultimately, the best way forward will be for the Syrian people to win their own future without direct foreign intervention." I'm somewhat surprised that Heritage agrees that the USA should pursue a policy of non-intervention in this case. I think this would be the policy of a Ron Paul administration, but usually he would be labeled as an isolationist, if he vocalized the same policy. Maybe conservatives are starting to realize the wisdom of a non-interventionist foreign policy. Anyways, we no longer can afford a warfare state that puts us ever deeper in debt with multiple undeclared, Unconstitutional wars on nations that pose no threat to our citizens at home & the mistaken idea that the USA needs 800+ bases in 120+ nations around the world to keep us safe at home.

      • RogCol says:

        Totally agree, Frank. We should let the other nations in turmoil do their own fighting. Egypt and Libya should provide evidence of how foreign intervention (us, that is) never turns out well. We are broke and decimating our military. Sorry, defend your selves.

    3. Michelle says:

      I totally agree that humanitarian aid is the way to go at this point, because no one wants to see the innocent suffer. It has been questionable exactly who we have been helping in other locations where we have given arms and Egypt obviously feels they have had more than enough of our "help" lately.

    4. ThomNJ says:

      We need to stay out of this – and that includes humanitarian aid. When the dust and smoke settle, we can still stay out of it, because who is going to win? Side a is hezbollah and assad, side b is al qaeda and the muslim brotherhood – and both are enemies of the USA.

      • s. graz says:

        You are exactly right. I visited Homs thirty years ago. Few tourists ever visit. As two western unaccompanied woman, we were invited to stay with a Syrian family. My relative spoke Arabic. The women of the household would not stop asking us about our lives in the west. These women are never allowed to go outdoors except to funerals or marriages. Think about that for a minute. They are prisoners whose sole purpose is to serve the males of the household. We cannot judge or "intellectually" understand this culture or decide to "grant" them democracy. There is no simple, quick fix for the people of Syria. Their lives will not be better if we help them overthrow the current ruler for a new dictator. How is Libya today? It can't be good, otherwise Hilary would be there in photo ops. You can be sure of one thing, the UN is useless and there are many nefarious people waiting in the wings who are not going to let this "crisis go to waste".

    5. Verne says:

      What would have happened if the French had not offered help to the American colonials who fought against Britain? If I recall that aid involved guns, ammunition, officers and soldiers, as well as humanitarian aid.

    6. jaxon345 says:

      where are other Arab league nations on this?

      • Fed-up says:

        … or the United Nations for that matter? Of course we've seen the effectiveness of the UN in Haiti.

      • R.I.P. says:

        The same place they always are, waiting for the their "infidel" servant nations of the West to spend thier money and shed their blood so that Islam does not have to fight Islam.

      • recce1 says:

        The Arab League has called for a cease fire but the MSM says little about this. That said, consider the howls of outrage when Israel would bulldoze down the house of a terrorist. But when a Muslim dictator does it, it's somehow different.

      • Clearhead says:

        They are on what you call 'the sidelines'

    7. Paul says:

      Arab states, liken to Moffia gangs, are mostly lead by tribes or families; having tribe power for years, is not going to humble themselves to others easily, or willingly.

    8. bitterweed says:

      The U.S. should learn to mind its own business..This regime will only be replaced by another that is equally as bad or worse..

    9. Jim Buzzell says:

      Where in our costitution does it say we are to build other nations? Why are we interferring in other nation's civil wars? Did we not learn a lession in Egypt Libiya? Our military is for the common defense of the United States of America but the Progessives since TR, and WW have decided nation building and intervention is for the good of all because the Progressives ordainted it. Lets get back to building our nation and keeping the sea lanes open for commerical traffic. Our Navy is perpetural, our Army is to be funded every two years according to our constitution; so what the found fathers determined was our Navy was essential, our Army should only be raised when needed for the common defense of our nation. Why is our constitution not relevent in the eyes of the Progressives?

      • recce1 says:

        How can we expect the Army to be funded for two years when the Democrat controlled Senate hasn't passed a budget in almost three years?

        Our Constitution, what is left of it, isn't relevant to progressives because as the Founders stated, the Constitution was a chain meant to bind down men desirous of power from mischief. Progressive, i.e. socialists and communists, find the Constitution to be an annoyance as it champions individual rights and initiative. The progressives favor collectivism and a compliant public ruled be a "compassionate" ELITE.

        "The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first." – Thomas Jefferson

    10. guest says:

      We are not the world's police force. Stay out of it. If we have to go to war in the middle east again we need to really go to war. That means making the enemy so miserable with our attacks that they surrender.

    11. phrowt says:

      Will some journalist be writing a similiar story about the struggle to gain our freedom back in America? I am no prophet but I, and maybe others, see this story has the possiblity of happening here and reasonably soon especially since our current political and bureaucratic class consider me and other Patriots, terrorists. King George thought the same of our founders for those who did not receive American History in grade school.
      Semper Fi

    12. Muskrat Johnson says:

      I think it would be better to keep our nose out of it than to do what Obama did in Libia, Supplying weapons and munitions that are now in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood to be most certainly used against us in the future!

      • recce1 says:

        Just think how the Democrats and the Left castigated Bush for going into Iraq claiming he violated the Constitution. But at least Bush got a feel good resolution from Congress and that there were real treaty violations by Hussein to consider.

        However, Mr. Obama by himself declared war on Libya in an obvious violation of the Constitution by not even notifying anyone in Congress of his actions. That's an impeachable offense, not that the Democrats will ever vote to impeach a Democrat president.

      • mm&h says:

        We should stay out of it ! but give humanitarian aid on a voluntary basis when the smoke clears.No weapons should be given !!!! Both sides are Muslim & believe in Sharia Law who have a long term objective to implement it there as well as the rest of the world starting with the Western Countries no doubt…

    13. Jeanne Stotler says:

      Keep our nose out of Syria and keep our mone here, we need to stop sending money to all these countries, We can help through the REd Cross, Churches and other charities, when there is a crisis BUt to support all these countries, which hateus, is plain foolish. Now we send thousans to China every year, borrow money back from them and pay interest on the very money we sent them in the first place?? Nuts ins't it. Just like the guy who borrowed 10.00 from his friend , then paid it back saying that his friend now owed him 10.00. Lets take care of affairs here at home, make our borders secure and Our country safe, no depeletion of weapons that will make us vunerable to attack from nations like Iran.

    14. gringo says:

      The people in this region have been slaughtering each other since before written history. They would gladly kill us too. Though I hate the horrors perpetrated on the innocent, I include American children on that list, and history has shown that once we commit to peace, American children pay for it with their blood. Let's sit this one out.

      • recce1 says:

        You mentioned "once we commit to peace, American children pay for it with their blood." How then will sitting this one out, perhaps a good idea, further your argument. History has taught us that if we stand by and watch our brethren slaughtered, eventually it will happen to us.

        However, that's not a plea for military adventurism. As you said, perhaps we should sit this one out. Syria is a client of Iran, Russia, and China. Let them sort things out or be held responsible.

    15. Ken Jarvis says:

      Nice Try, HF.
      The GOP Blocks passing a budget, so we get –
      1023 days without a budget.
      And it give the HF and GOP something to Complain about.
      Just NOT Fair.

      • Lloyd Scallan says:

        So Ken is back and as stupid as always. The DEMs and Reid control the Senate. That's where the "blocks" are, not in the House. This in the kind of nonsense that shows why this country is in the poor condition it is in today.

      • Jeanne Stotler says:

        How is HF and GOP blocking a budget that never gets to the floor for a vote. Las budget was vetoed 93 to 0, were all members of the senate Rep. I think not. Besides there have been budgets, as required by law, sent from the house which are tabled. Where is he budget, also required by law, from the Senate, not one budget produced or even brought to the floor by Harry Rid in over 1000 days. If you read the constitution you will see that all budgets are then taken to committee for conciliation then for a vote by full congress.

      • recce1 says:

        It only takes 51 votes in the senate to pass a budget. I believe they have 53.

    16. Tex says:

      Who cares, they have been fighting there for so long no one has a clue why….They are just stupid that way. Let'm die, they use more than their fair shear of air anyway. By all means keep the U.S. OUT of it!!!!

    17. JIMof S.I. says:

      Golly. Hard to believe the allegations against Assad. It wasn't that long ago that our Secretary of State said the Administration viewed him as something of a reformer.

    18. Mark says:

      How can they win if we don't help them arms-wise? Syria is looking to Iran for help, where can the opposition get help? Once again Obama is backing away from helping anyone but his political left!

    19. Edward Kimble says:

      Give support to Assad. That is the only moral choice here and the clear champion of ideas. The alternative is you give support to criminals, the jihadists, the Hom and Hezbollah. You release a poison and at the end of the day you have armed militia going door to door killing and robbing innocent citizens like they have in Libya but much, much worse; you end up with a destroyed economy; millions (instead of thousands) dead, you lose the economic corridor from Europe south and to Israel; you destroy the infrastructure of a good land, you give Iran a platform for destroying Israel; you open a superhighway for evil. So dear Heritage Foundation, put a cork in it!!

    20. let them fight it out, we have enough trouble at homw

    21. Jim Smith says:

      Except, perhaps for the smoke, the last sentence of this article could just as well be applied
      to Russia and China. Not only are they supporting Assad in Syria, but they seem to be at least
      tacitly supportive of a nuclear Iran. Putin is seeing some actual opposition as his "reelection"
      approaches… perhaps there is hope for the Russian people. As things stand now, however, we
      need to recognize that these nations are not our friends and start to act accordingly.

    22. jazzyjargon says:

      I believe America is picking which countries to save, which dictatorial regimes to put in place, and whose lives matter vs. whose lives do not. Stephanie Powers "Obligation to Protect" adopted by the Obama Administration and the "Rulers" , has caused much bloodshed under the guise of humanitartian efforts. In fact, I would argue that the Obama Admin. has been one of the bloodiest regimes we have ever had, although none of the casualties such as drone attacks or global chaos implemented under the banner of "democracy" is being documented or reported.

    23. Let Syrians fix their own problems. It is their responsibility and they want better lives. May God bless and help them. No surprises about who is supporting Assad: the other monolithic imperialist and colonialistic empires in this world. Dictators are falling everywhere. Islam, like communism, can be contained. Both are backward looking cultures. Hands off is our best policy. We have a growing constitutional problem here. That can be fixed and soon, I hope. That is our responsibility.

    24. David says:

      Before we all go jumping off the cliff, we need to confirm facts. We are talking about a CNN reporter. Also, if I recall my history, the Muslim tribe that Assad belongs too were killed by the 10's of thousands by the Muslim tribe that control Homs. Remember – the Muslim world is made of tribes that have vendettas going back generations. Their world was old before the US of A was a glimmer in our Founders eyes. Americans don't study or remember history. If it happened last week, 25% of Americans think it is old news.

    25. Laura Mustafa says:

      I am sad to see that Heritage stands with the media on this issue. With family in Syria, the true facts are that those revolting against Assad's regime are radical Islamists. Most of the killings have been perpetrated by these groups and not by the Assad government. If the US truly wanted to promote secularism rather then radicalism in this country, they would support Assad and not radical Islamists. Christians and minorities in the MIddle East want Assad to stay because he is a check to radical Islam and protects the minorities. Our current foreign policy does more harm than good.

    26. Anthony says:

      "Ultimately, the best way forward will be for the Syrian people to win their own future without direct foreign intervention."

      The smartest thing this article had to say.

    27. Carl says:

      So what are you saying here? You don't actually call for the US to get involved but you imply it.
      We cannot and should not even try to run the whole world.

    28. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      If there are free elections in Syria, the Islamists win. Don't believe me? Look at Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt.

    29. Fred Wibert says:

      Are religious factions fighting for control of Syria? Where does the Arab Spring or Al Queda fit into this scene? Fred

    30. John says:

      I think we've learned our lesson in Iraq. We aren't prepared to to handle our own economy. How in the hell can we assume the right to meddle in the affairs of Libya or Syria. Let China lead the way. How can Heritage, an organization I believe in greatly when it comes to logic about our Constitution and our economy, sit here and accuse Obama for not doing anything?

      We have no business in Syria. Let them sort out their own mess while we sort out ours.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.