With Bashar al-Assad's government thumbing its nose at global anger as it continues a violent crackdown on protesters, the international community should step up pressure and invoke tough sanctions against Syria's oil exports, says expert Andrew Tabler.
President Assad's brutal attack on Syrian protestors, and a lack of support for protestors from Syria's army and business class, make it likely that the regime will survive even if it becomes increasingly isolated from the West, says Syria expert Mona Yacoubian.
Even as Syrian protesters call for the immediate ouster of President Bashar al-Assad, U.S. allies in the region prefer he hold on to power given their fears that a post-Assad Syria might empower Iran, says Middle East expert Jon Alterman.
Syria expert Joshua Landis says both the Syrian government and the Obama administration are looking to improve relations, but the renewal of sanctions by the United States, designating the country as a rogue state, may prove an obstacle.
Elliott Abrams, former chief Middle East adviser on the National Security Council, says the Obama administration's move to send diplomats to Damascus for talks marks "a real policy change" but he is doubtful it will amount to much.
Mohamad Bazzi, former Middle East correspondent for Newsday, says evidence suggests Israel’s intelligence agents as the most likely source of the bomb that killed Hezbollah terrorist chief Imad Mugniyah, but other scenarios also are feasible.
Gary Samore, an arms control official in the Clinton National Security Council and CFR’s director of studies, says it remains a mystery whether Syria was working with North Korea to receive nuclear technology. He adds, however, that it would make sense that Syria would be interested to develop some kind of deterrent, given that its neighbor, Israel, is said to have nuclear weapons.
Mona Yacoubian, a former intelligence analyst for the State Department, says the special UN tribunal to investigate the assassination in 2005 of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is linked to the politics of Lebanon and Syria, with the Syrians trying to sow enough chaos to prevent the tribunal from ever getting underway.
Geoffrey Aronson, who participated in two years of intermittent talks between unofficial Israeli and Syrian representatives, said contacts continue even though they have not sat down together since last summer. Aronson says talks led to a “non-paper” and unofficial accord by which Israel would return the Golan Heights to Syria and in return get access to water in the region.
Michael Young, an expect commentator on Lebanese affairs, says he has little doubt the recent assassination of Christian leader Pierre Gemayel and other killings in Lebanon were carried out by Syria and its Lebanese allies.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.
The authors argue that it is essential to begin working now to expand and establish rules and norms governing armed drones, thereby creating standards of behavior that other countries will be more likely to follow.
The author examines Pakistan's complex role in U.S. foreign policy and advocates for a two-pronged approach that works to quarantine threats while integrating Pakistan into the broader U.S. agenda in Asia.