Obama talking with his hands 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
WASHINGTON – Significant shifts on the ground in Syria last week might provide
the White House with more justification for action than it has found over months
of paralyzing stasis in the country’s civil war.
As President Barack
Obama continues a series of meetings this week in which he is expected to
reevaluate US policy on direct involvement in the brutal conflict, evidence that
Assad may suddenly but definitively be winning the war has created a sense of
urgency to help the rebels while outside assistance can still prove
The loss of Qusair, a city central to supply routes from
rebel-held central provinces to the Assad-loyalist Western corridor bordering
Lebanon, has motivated Assad to march on to an already devastated Homs and
Aleppo, the country’s largest city. Assad government officials have warned local
outlets to prepare for a significant offensive in the coming days.
forewarnings echo the daunting days before Libya’s Col. Muammar Gaddafi prepared
to descend on Benghazi in 2011, at the time a stronghold of rebel forces.
Western powers justified intervention at the UN Security Council on humanitarian
grounds, and in announcing US involvement in the eventual no-fly zone that NATO
put into place, Obama said he feared for the fate of local Libyans as Gaddafi
made final battle preparations.
Hezbollah’s bold leap into the Syrian
conflict – the first foray of its kind for the Lebanese paramilitary group – has
also changed the calculus.
A reported 5,000 Hezbollah fighters have
crossed the border to assist in the coming offensive.
on foreign policy have renewed their push for more aggressive US involvement in
recent days. Sens John McCain and Bob Corker – ranking members on the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee – have called for direct arming and training of
Syrian rebel fighters.
Analysts tell The Jerusalem Post
that Assad’s war
with rebel factions is far from over. But the opposition is in dire straits,
with a lack of sufficient arms, training and leadership – required elements in a
military force that take time to acquire and develop.
As the conditions
for rebels continue to deteriorate, Obama’s options this week will further be
set in contrast, underscored by the urgency on the ground and the knowledge that
indecision at such a pivotal moment in the conflict will have direct
consequences on the outcome of the war’s next stage.