The elusive tipping point in Syria
March 2nd, 2012
03:19 PM ET

The elusive tipping point in Syria

By Tim Lister, with reporting from Elise Labott

The Syrian military's advance into the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs has changed the dynamics of the resistance to the Assad regime - and put further pressure on Western policy-makers to find ways to help the opposition and protect Syrian civilians. But as Washington debates what's next for Syria, Gulf states are already beginning to provide the opposition with arms and the funding to purchase them, sources in the region tell CNN.

To the Obama administration, the regime's assault on Homs is an ominous sign. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman told a Senate hearing Thursday: "It's important that the tipping point for the regime be reached quickly because the longer the regime assaults the Syrian people, the greater the chances of all out war and a failed state."

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Baba Amr was the Free Syrian Army's most significant stronghold - a hub for its activities and a place from which opposition activists alerted the world to the regime's brutality through a sophisticated media operation. Now they have been silenced and the FSA scattered, and the Syrian army can turn its attention to other foci of resistance.

Robert Ford, U.S. ambassador to Syria, told the same Senate hearing that "the security services have retained their cohesion." Against that, he said, the Syrian regime is under much greater stress than just a few months ago, with sanctions having an impact and the influential business community "increasingly unhappy."

Ford described the Syrian economy as in a sharp downward spiral, with the Syrian pound losing half its value in less than a year.

Both officials steered away from committing the United States to arming the Syrian opposition in the face of the regime's artillery onslaught against Homs, and attacks in towns like Idlib, Zabadani and Daraa. "People are looking at it, but there are a lot of complications that one needs to consider," Feltman said.

One of those complications is the possibility of a meltdown that would play into the hands of Islamist extremists. With al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri urging support for the uprising, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said Washington needs to be extremely careful about who would receiving any arms shipments.

And that's not easy to know given growing differences among the opposition. The Syrian National Council, the political umbrella of the opposition, is largely made up of exiles. The Free Syrian Army has sprouted from within as unrest has spread; so have local co-ordination committees.

Read also: U.S. sees "no fracturing" of Assad regime

The SNC announced Thursday the creation of a military bureau to "track the armed opposition groups, organize and unify their ranks under one central command, defining their defense missions while placing them under the political supervision of the SNC," a statement said.

Walid Al Buni, a senior member of the SNC, told CNN that "an office on the ground inside Syria will coordinate providing weapons to the FSA, and that will be the only mechanism to supply the weapons to the FSA."

That did not sit well with senior figures in the FSA. Colonel Malek Al Kurdi, told CNN: "We are surprised on the formation of the military consultation council without taking our opinion....How could such a decision be taken by the SNC without informing Colonel Riad Al Assad leading the military opposition," he asked.

The dispute has turned the spotlight on the SNC's leadership, and especially President Burhan Ghalioun, a Paris-based professor who has struggled to unify the 270-member council - and especially reconcile liberal and Islamist members. Last week, about 20 prominent members of he SNC announced the formation of the Syrian Patriotic Group with the aim of building closer ties to the rebels inside Syria.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, compares the state of the SNC unfavorably with that of Libya's Transitional National Council last year. So does Clinton. "This is not Libya, where you had a base of operations in Benghazi, where you had people who were representing the entire opposition to Libya," she told CBS.

The best hope, according to western diplomats, is that Syrian opposition groups can at least agree on a transition plan that would attract those Syrians still uncommitted to either the opposition or the regime.

If not, there is the prospect that the uprising in Syria will take on a religious complexion. Ford told the Senate hearing: "We have cautioned the opposition that if they declare some kind of big jihad they will frighten many of the very fence-sitters still in places like Damascus."

There are also growing indications that foreign jihadists see Syria as their most urgent cause. Security on the Syrian side of the border with Iraq appears to have deteriorated, with the Iraqis announcing last week that military patrols would be stepped up to prevent smugglers and infiltrators from Syria. Of greater concern is the possibility that hundreds of jihadist fighters with the Islamic State in Iraq may be going in the other direction, as U.S. officials have suggested.

Sources in the Gulf say that Saudi Arabia and Qatar have already begun funding for (or the transfer of) small arms to the Syrian opposition. Kuwait's parliament this week passed a nonbinding resolution in favor of supplying weapons to the Free Syrian Army.
Qatar's prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani, said this week: "We should do whatever necessary to help them, including giving them weapons to defend themselves."

"I think they're right to defend themselves by weapons, and I think we should help these people by all means," Hamad said.

Qatar was one of the first states to arm the Libyan rebels last year.

But some fear that arming the Syrian opposition may lead toward an Iraq-style insurgency of ambushes and bomb attacks, without tipping the balance decisively against the Assad regime, which has a huge arsenal of battle tanks and artillery. Clinton has warned that supplying arms to the rebels may only hasten the slide toward civil war, heightening sectarianism and inviting in al Qaeda.

In Washington, foreign policy veterans like Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Indiana, say the United States should not overestimate its ability to influence events in Syria, while any efforts to manage the opposition could backfire. The administration appears to agree and is putting its faith in intensified sanctions and a multilateral approach to the crisis through the Friends of Syria group.

There is still plenty of anger within the U.S. administration at the Russian and Chinese rejection of a strong U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria, but Feltman said Thursday that Russia might yet be part of the solution in Syria through its influence with the regime.

Analysts say that the U.S. and Russian views of the situation in Syria are not dissimilar, even if their public stances are. Both stand to lose should the country descend into sectarian chaos or become an incubator for al Qaeda on the Mediterranean. If Russia perceives that Assad is incapable of rescuing the situation, it might look to a military takeover to preserve its influence in Syria and the access of its navy to Syrian ports. For the United States, given that sanctions are a long-term play and arming the rebels a double-edged sword, a transitional military council might in time become the least worst option. But peeling away senior commanders would be tough. Syria's elite units - the 4th Division and Revolutionary Guard - are tightly tied in with the Assad dynasty. The Syrian army - unlike those in Egypt and Tunisia – has no recent history as an independent institution.

As for that tipping point, Feltman acknowledged Thursday: "I hope I didn't make it sound like it was coming tomorrow. I wish it were."

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soundoff (132 Responses)
  1. offshore letter

    Great Post

    May 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Reply
  2. $ocial riot machine

    i think it`s pretty obvious that majority of Syrian people dont want a regime change. if they wanted to then there`d be huge protests and then Assad would have no choice but to resign. just like it happened in Egypt. what we see now is that it`s a minority that wants a regime change. a minority of people backed up by foreign soldiers. armed and aided financially by west and who knows what else. i personally know two syrians. they are 19 and 18 years old. first one is a guy. he`s pro-assad and calls the opposition terrorists. the second is a girl. she wants a regime change but is aware that a regime change might lead to an islamic regime and what she wants is a western type democracy. CNN is obviously showing just the one side of the story not the whole pictureand that is sad

    March 3, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Reply
    • F B M

      We controlled Egypt's puppet. Not so with Syria.

      March 4, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Reply
  3. anti dictators

    UN, Thank you for doing nothing while Assad is killing everyone who does not like his Regime, what has happened to humanity?

    March 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Reply
    • F B M

      The same thing that happened back in '82 when Assad's daddy slaughtered tens of thousands – SFA.

      March 4, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Reply
    • USMC

      You can take the UN and shove it up your sissy-idf-propagandist-honky-kharzar-arse!

      March 4, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Reply
  4. Deryk Houston

    Syria is a tex book example of how world leaders "horse trade" the peoples rights away. Each is maneuvering for advantage.
    They don;t care about the civilians in Syria. It is all about who gets control of a key strategic location with a nice port etc.
    I believe that the Syrian people have to sort this one out. They have to decide what they want. It is their blood and they have to decide who they want as a leader.
    The only alternative is to have outside people decide their fate and that doesn't work because outside people will only support the leader that looks after their interests.
    We also need an international body that can decide on matters of international law. We don;t have support for such a body because the most powerful countries will not sign an agreement because they know they would be arrested and hung.
    That is the harsh reality of war.

    March 3, 2012 at 10:43 am | Reply
  5. Thomas Henley

    The elusive tipping point? Should be when Americans have finally had enough of bankrupting perpetual war and stop taking verbal clues from politicians and media to support those wars. When will that happen? Soon, I hope. Though something tells me Americans protesting corrupt government aren't likely to be treated as kindly by the media and political establisments as those living in disfavored nations abroad are.

    March 3, 2012 at 9:09 am | Reply
  6. PhilG

    Adolph Hitler and Stalin send their kind regards to President Assad from Hell.

    They are proud of everything he is doing right now and say they have a place all picked out for him to inhabit when Satan comes for his soul.,

    Bottom bunk,Adolph wants the first slice.

    March 3, 2012 at 9:05 am | Reply
  7. Bobilino

    It's worth noting that Al-Queda and Al-Zawahiri used Syria as a safe haven for years. The only reason that scumbag is supporting the uprising is so they can side with the inevitable winner for a change. The people rising up want nothing to do with those jackwagons or sharia law. Al-Queda is a joke and their dude got smoked

    March 3, 2012 at 5:09 am | Reply
    • mardjan

      And how do you know their intention and the Syrian opposition's mind? Are you a member of alquaeda, a rogue member maybe?

      March 3, 2012 at 8:06 am | Reply
  8. Steve

    C'mon people, you know the ONLY thing keeping the US out of it is they're afraid they'll step on some pretty Big Toes, namely Russia & China, LOL They might be able to push the 'little' countries around but do you really think they want to go head to head with a superior force – not likely!

    March 3, 2012 at 4:51 am | Reply
  9. News Faker

    Gulf states are already beginning to provide the opposition with arms and the funding ...We knew this arming of the rebels have started 8 months ago, not just now, but the media opted to cover it up all this time. If the Gulf states are so concerned about civilians..why haven't they sent containers of first aid kits? Instead more arm to kill more people, is this so humanitarian?
    Baba Amr was the Free Syrian Army's most significant stronghold ....If these people are so wanting to defend the people as they have numbed our ears on CNN...the question is why have they planted themselves among residents? They are using dirty tricks as bad as the regime so they are not any better.
    The picture above by CNN shows people are standing out in line to get bread. It's normal even in North America to wait in line to get to the baker..I see no armed police or tanks. It's a good sign that people are no longer scared.

    March 2, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Reply
    • Leif

      The only thing the picture proves is that people need to eat.

      March 3, 2012 at 4:02 am | Reply
  10. Charles H

    Tipping point has come and gone. Just like Iran. Moving on...

    March 2, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Reply
  11. political prisoner

    Can we all agree on one thing? The world has gone to sheite..look at what's going on in the world as a hole..world war lll has started just nobody's willing to admit it..it's time to chose up sides and get on with it. Why wait til millions are dead befor we act like done in ww ll..anybody talking right now is stalling..Iran wants to talk..stall..north Korea wants to talk...stall...those not talking are busy with their elections..except China..they are planning for war...shouldn't we be? OK this is where you all yell at me .but if it turns out I'm right you all come back and apologize ..LOL

    March 2, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Reply
    • Ned

      Calm down?

      March 2, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Reply
    • Sam

      XFD really? WW3? the sky is falling!!!! I seriously wish I could meet people like you in real life, they would be soooo fun to debate with.

      March 2, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Reply
    • mardjan

      We don't want to yell at you but please go see your doctor and take your medications. You will feel better.

      March 3, 2012 at 8:04 am | Reply
  12. Kerry

    American can no longer bleed for the Middle East. Enough already. Stay the course.

    March 2, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Reply
  13. mardjan

    i agree Richard, we should mind our own business. Imagine if it was the Syrians and Iranians arming the opposition to our government. We would be all up in arms against these savage terrorist, but when it is done by us it is all right and we are "liberating the Syrian people". People have lost the capacity of putting themselves in other people's shoes.The Free Syrian Army just found out painfully that we are not going to run with our checkbooks and army everytime someone doesn't like the leadership of their country. If they don't like Assad then they can take him down. If they cannot take him down then they have to negotiate with him.

    March 2, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Reply
    • z-12

      Well said

      March 2, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Reply
    • bobcat2u

      @ mardjan
      You can really thank President Obama for this. He is the most level headed leader we've had in quite some time. You know yourself, if a republican were in office, we'd already be there.
      Stand strong on this Mr. President. You've got a lot of common sense.

      March 2, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Reply
    • angryk

      I agree that we would be angry if someone gave arms to people in our country, at the same time, our military (by government directive) doesn't brutally massacre US civilian populations at a whim.

      March 3, 2012 at 10:24 am | Reply
      • Nick San Diego

        True and not to that extent, but we should remember Kent State and the riots of the 1960's and see how close we were.to a situation evolving into a mini Syria.

        March 3, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  14. Marlee

    Gotta love the French! Why not air drop arms and supplies to the civilians?

    March 2, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Reply
  15. Ken Margo

    Ok Where's Jesus? Where's any GOD for that mater? Forget people. God can clear this up with a wave of his hand! Stop with all the conspiracy theories. You're just working yourself up into a frenzy! THAT"S WHY IT"S UP TO GOD. So sit back and relax. By the way, if GOD doesn't do anything about it, maybe he doesn't care either!!!!!

    March 2, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Reply
    • Jerry Arnold

      Ken, Seems God didn't care either at the Holocost where millions were murdered, or 2000 years ago when Christains were killed in the arena of the Collosium, or during both world wars when countless civilians died! Make me wonder??
      God won't take a hand in Syria either, this murderer will be held accountable by the world court, maybe not today but eventually he will be held accountable if he isn't killed first!!

      March 2, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Reply
      • Ali Hasan

        I have no dout what you have said is the truth, that such murderer will vanish in the history trash.

        thank you

        March 2, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • Ali Hasan

      West, or The East with power ,
      Power is gift from god , when you do good with it you serve god , when you do bad with it you serve the Satan.
      To see let the Syrian people get slaughtered by Assad machine and we stand by watching is shamful,
      to be credible and show the world the good heart and intentions of the west , then, why not use it and help to finish the Satan power , represnted by Assad and his thugs.

      March 2, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Reply
    • Leif

      I don't believe in God. But if there is a God, why would said God create human beings and then interfere with them when they screw up? Why would said God interfere at all? It would be like arranging for a sporting event and then rigging the game. What would be the point?

      March 3, 2012 at 4:09 am | Reply
      • truthordare

        huh...that imaginary God has been interfering in middle east (of all places) for a long time. It seems He/She/It/Donkeybutt is rather shy when human reason and consciousness developed further and further. He might dissppear altogether if we advance any further proving he is just a made up story for ignorant people in the middle ages and we should be civilized enough to realize the stupidity of such unfounded beliefs.

        March 3, 2012 at 4:58 am |
  16. the messenger

    Rt.com to di world!!!

    March 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Reply
  17. the messenger

    They are literally killing ppl bcuz of the color of their skin. And CNN won't even mention it.

    March 2, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Reply
  18. the messenger

    Lybian ppl need Jesus

    March 2, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Reply
    • jeb

      They have enough illusions to deal with.

      March 2, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Reply
  19. Adam

    You read some of the comments and it feels sickening to hear the same lies to the american people by those ambassadors or foreign policies experts. Syria's Assad will not fall and Feltman has to cover his ass and keep his job after his failed attempts in Lebanon at disarming Hezbllah, "I hope I didn't make it sound like it was coming tomorrow. I wish it were." For now your soldiers and puppets are eating dust in Syria.

    March 2, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Reply
  20. Ken Margo

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again. WHERE'S ALLAH? WHERE'S THE ARAB UNITY? Arabs will march and protest over a Koran burning, but not one protest over Syria. Puts things in perspective doesn't it. People who blame Obama for Syria and Iran, would also blame him for rain or snow.

    March 2, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Reply
  21. FIGHT CLINTON

    THIS IS A WAR BETWEEN THE WEST AND THE ASSAD REGIME. DO NOT BELIEVE WHAT CNN TELLS YOU. THEY ARE FUNDING ARMING THE OPPOSITION, AND THEIR ONLY GOAL IS TO OVERTHROW THE LEGITIMATE REGIME OF ASSAD. THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT CIVILIANS, THOSE LIARS!

    March 2, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Reply
    • Assad the dead man

      I would behead Bashar Ass-hard in a heartbeat.

      March 2, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Reply
    • Jerry Arnold

      Legittiment regime of Assad??? You have got to be kidding?? There is nothing legitiment about this murdering bastard who kills his own people just to stain power! Hitler tried it too, and this jerk is in the same boat.

      March 2, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Reply
  22. FHTEX

    Bobby, I agree with you. ... the show's over. Assad has won ... the few Syrian rebels mixed in with Islamist mercenaries and western commandos have lost. They could never convince the Syrian people that their disagreements with Assad were worth turning their nation into an even more horrific version of Libya after NATO. Whether the west maintains sanctions against Syria or not doesn't matter ... China has all of the money these days anyways!

    March 2, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Reply
    • Bezboz

      Hmmm... sounds like you're not drinking the "strategically withdrawing" kool-aid 🙂

      March 2, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Reply
  23. meggafish

    No mention of the 18 French Officers and the 100 paratroopers captured near or in Homs today.
    http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/35858/World/Region/-French-officers-and–paratroopers-captured-in-Hom.aspx
    Perhaps once again we are only getting a fraction of the story.

    March 2, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Reply
    • Bezboz

      Let's not forget the Arab fighters captured in Baba Amr, too. Anyone who thinks they are getting the full story by reading CNN is sadly uninformed.

      March 2, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Reply
    • Rich

      Perhaps. Likely, in fact, though one Lebanese Baathist politician's word is about as good as the mud on my shoe. I'd wait to see some type of proof (video?) emerging before I accept it. It's not likely they'd honor the Geneva Convention if they actually HAD captured them – they'd film that and show it to the world.

      March 2, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Reply
      • Nick San Diego

        Geneva Convention was proven a joke with what we did with Iraq prisoners or for that matter what the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians and the UN simply passing resolutions that are meaningless.

        March 3, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
      • F B M

        Not not there's any shortage of politicians in this country who lack credibility. And while the Geneva Convention may look good on paper, its been abused by many others virtually since day 1.

        March 4, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Miami1111

      @meggafish I guess we should all believe a pro-Assad Lebanese politician over CNN. Laughable, but cute.

      March 2, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Reply
  24. rightospeak

    As the American general put it a few days ago on CNN ; " we are fighting a proxy war in Syria " – so we are already involved and supported by daily propaganda. What else is new ? Endless wars,huge unemployment, bancrupcy like Greece – what else is new ? Obama, Santorum, Romney , Gingrich want our blood there -that is not new ,either. Ron Paul is a glimmer of hope -that is new !!! Vote Ron Paul 2012 !

    March 2, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Reply
    • Yupper

      It's time for a change..WAKE UP AMERICA!!!

      March 2, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Reply
      • Rich

        99.9%: Zzzzzzzzz....

        March 2, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
      • Nick San Diego

        You're right RON PAUL 2012.

        March 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  25. Bobby

    This is over now folks - the opposition was soundly defeated and now it is time to move on. The Syrian military will not let it's guard down or be surprised again .Anything to occur from this point on will be years away -fact!!

    March 2, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Reply
  26. jeremy

    They need to stop worrying on helping the opposition, they have admitted they are not sure who the opposition is, and focus on evacuating the innocent people!

    March 2, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Reply
  27. JoJo

    What I think is going to happen, the US will attack Iran or will have Israel doing the attack and at the same time the US will land marines on the Syrian shores. They are not far from eachothers, like getting two birds with one stone.

    March 2, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Reply
    • Rich

      As Syria and Iran have a mutual defense pact, it's hard to MISS two birds with one stone.

      March 2, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Reply
  28. Exiled 1

    What simplie-minded thinking by people and governments. Religion, war or no war, who's good or bad, blah blah. There is no "Assad Regime" doing this. There are a limited number of people serving their self-interests by sticking together and inflicting inhumane acts on a major part of the poplulation in Syria. Large numbers of Syrians live in fear so they won't take sides or voice support for the Regime to avoid the horror. The West knows who backs Assad and the key leaders in the military. Let them know in very public ways they are now marked for justice in all its forms the moment the regime falls. Use every means to make the point to them. See how long they stick together.

    March 2, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Reply
    • rightospeak

      Justice in the Middle East ? Where have you been exiled ?

      March 2, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Reply
    • ES

      Is this limited number of people themselves operating the tanks and artillery? Revolution in Egypt happened because military refused to shoot their own people. If oposition doesn't have support of large part of a military it means they don't have enough public support. Any intervention will lead to a civil war.

      March 2, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Reply
      • Rich

        "military refused to shoot their own people"

        They're warming up to the idea, though.

        March 2, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • JV

      You know this how? Unless you are part of the Syrian regime or The defense Secretary I doubt you are spouting fact.

      March 2, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Reply
    • Jim Fawcett

      Man, what propaganda trash have you bought into?

      March 2, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Reply
  29. Alan

    Let someone else handle this one...the Muslim nations need to man up on this one

    March 2, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Reply
  30. Richard

    What a double standard for this administration. They bomb Libya and allow thousands of shoulder fire missiles to go unaccounted for and into the hands of those who will probably use them aganist all of us. The people are being slaughtered in this country and they do nothing. What a bunch of hypocrites.

    March 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Reply
    • Bezboz

      You are mad because they learned a lesson???

      March 2, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Reply
      • Richard

        Who learned a lesson get you facts straight those shoulder fired misslies are going to come back haunt us. Just like they did in the passed but this time it will be worse. To bad Obama doesn't want to take credit for that.

        March 2, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • jeb

      Hey, you sure can complain but have no answers. Like Rush the sausage! LOL

      March 2, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Reply
    • z-12

      Maybe we've finally learned our lesson.

      March 2, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Reply
  31. Sebastian

    I think the U.S. has the duty to intervene in Syria and help the noble cause of fighting for fredom, justice and democracy. Those are the pilars of this country and they need to keep it up high not just here but all over the world. The rebels just need some help to create a momemtum and finish it up later themselves.

    March 2, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Reply
    • Cheetahe

      The US has no duty to intervene anywhere.
      We are up to our ears with duties all over the globe.
      If you think that you have a duty to help the rebels in Syria go to Qom asap before Assad takes over the city.

      March 2, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Reply
      • Sebastian

        In a civilized country like this we play roles. I chsoe to play the role of beocming an engineer and help design things. The Army is the one that plays the role of not just protecting us from outside threats but also to fight for the core of this nation that is freedom, justice and democracy.
        People complaint latetly so much about the price of gas...what about complaining for not being able to have free speech and if you exercise that right you get killed. We can not be so selfish as a nation and as human beings. This country needs to starting helping somehow.

        March 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
      • Bezboz

        He already told you to go fight since you believe it's your duty. you don't need to be selfish. Engineers can fight, too. Or, is it only a duty when someone else has to do it?

        March 2, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • ES

      I didn't think there is still anyone in the US who belives we are fighting "for freedom". "Freedom" was just an afterthought in Iraq when they couldn't find WMD.
      It is not really an acceptable practice to invade other countries to bring "freedom". Different people understand freedom differently. It is a slippery slope.

      March 2, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Reply
    • rightospeak

      We need Freedom Of the Press, Justice and Democracy here in the U.S. We do not have it-, Sebastian ,I do not know what you are smoking -just check with Occupy Wall Street people.

      March 2, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Reply
      • Sebastian

        At least here they don't supress public demostrations with weapons like they do there. This country is blessed and sometimes it takes just a field trip oversees to understand how bless your are with what you have already.
        I supported the Ocuppy Wall street because I believe a lot of responsible people for the Finance crisis still out walking in the street like if nothing happen. I hate corruption cause corruption brings poverty to the people.

        March 2, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • z-12

      Why can't Allah intervene?

      March 2, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Reply
      • Samii

        Allah or God-He gives us free will otherwise we'd all be robots. There are 7 billion people on Earth today and nit one duplicate-we are each a masterpiece. Let's respect that every life is a miracle. Peace is the only way!!!

        March 3, 2012 at 12:48 am |
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    March 2, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Reply
    • Jim

      Right John, – and I'm the Queen of England.

      March 2, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Reply
      • Rich

        Would you like a crumpet with your tea, Queen Mum?

        March 2, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
  33. Hollis

    We can't be considered the a-holes of the world and then be the first looked to for help. The U.S. should play a role but we should step up with other world powers and it should be a joint effort.

    March 2, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Reply
  34. yuri pelham

    Obama deserves credit for keeping us out. Unlike Bush... he is no dummy.

    March 2, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Reply
    • Jim

      You're crazy dude. He's probably got his drones in action already. besides, do you really think he'd let us know if we were participating? The warmongering continues.

      March 2, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Reply
    • Bezboz

      Comparing a war waged in the midst of post-9/11 conditions to supporting an unpopular revolution is lame.

      Also, and you won't read this on any mainstream media outlet, there are American boots on the ground in Jordan and Turkey training FSA fighters.

      March 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Reply
      • yuri pelhem

        Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts poorly executed and have both done more harm to our country than 911. 10 years in Afghan with no end in sight. And they're killing us over a burned book. Re Iraq... it's only a matter of time before civil war ensues. Osama lured us in. He's dead but he won.

        March 2, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
      • Bezboz

        @yuri, you either didn't live here back then or don't, now. Letting 9/11 happen without wiping out the whole terrorist infrastructure would have caused much more harm than both wars combined.

        March 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  35. dondijon

    USA needs to stay OUT of this one.

    March 2, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Reply
  36. ES

    Stay away from Syria. It is civil/religious war there. We shouldn't pick sides. If sirians themsleves are not outraged by killing of their countrymen , there is nothing we can do. If they are , then soon be a critical mass of them which will stop the artocities and demand a regime change. It is a process, if we step in we'll just become a lightning rode of religious violence.

    March 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Reply
    • yuri pelham

      Since they are a terrorist state I look forward ton their disintegration. If it's to be a failed state... good.

      March 2, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Reply
  37. Bezboz

    Tipping point = CNN wishful thinking.

    If you haven't been watching the news, the FSA has been "strategically withdrawing" from all the areas it was supposed to have control over. The big one was on Wednesday when they "strategically" withdrew from Baba Amr for "the sake of the civilians". It didn't dawn on them to "strategically withdraw" for weeks. They just noticed that it's in the best interest of the people, now.

    If they really had the support of the masses, nobody could remove them. The best figures from Syria indicate that about 45% of the population wants Assad removed through a revolution. The numbers of those who want him removed by force are even smaller.

    March 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Reply
  38. bing520

    It is not our business. We understand little about Syria and Syrians. Once we intervene, we own it. Neither our Afghanistan nor Iraq intervention demonstrates our ability and competence in handling a complex situation and producing a desired result. Iraq is likely to move into Iran's arms. Afghans are likely to hate us more after 10 years of occupation, little construction to brag about and a long list of dead Afghans. Were we to go in and end up with more people killed in a confusing chao, it'd be irresponsible of us to brush it aside as collateral damage.

    March 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Reply
  39. Rob

    They're phuched either way

    March 2, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Reply
  40. morris

    Here is the truth that CNN, as a hardline islamist television network, will never display :

    A shocking video has appeared on the Internet showing Libyan rebels torturing a group of black Africans. People with their hands bound are shown being locked in a zoo-like cage and allegedly forced to eat the old Libyan flag.
    “Eat the flag, you dog. Patience you dog, patience. God is Great,” screams a voice off-camera in the video uploaded to YouTube last week, which also made its way onto LiveLeak.com.
    The torturers are also shown making the group of captive black Africans stand up with pieces of green cloth still in their mouths and apparently forcing them start jumping.
    A number of people are shown standing outside the cage watching the atrocity.
    After Muammar Gaddafi was killed, hundreds of migrant workers from neighboring states were imprisoned by fighters allied to the new interim authorities.
    They accuse the black Africans of having been mercenaries for the late ruler.
    In the course of the fighting to topple Gaddafi last year, sub-Saharan African migrants and refugees “became targets of stigma, discrimination and violence,” the human rights group Amnesty International said last month.

    March 2, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Reply
    • John

      CNN reports the news sorry to burst your conspiracy theory. News is good or bad people watch and read it. America is in two middle eastern countries and has a lot in stake. So when issues arise in this area you will hear about it cause it matters. In the 1960s it was Vietnam during the 1940s it was about Europe. I mean if you don't want to know the events happening on this planet. Turn off your tv and computer switch off your phone.

      March 2, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Reply
      • Bezboz

        John, Seems like you've missed the point completely. Please read again... slowly.

        March 2, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  41. Richard

    This is not our business. It is the business of the Syrian people. It is outrageous that people who do not live in Syria should be even discussing intervention there. The Syrian people have to live with the outcome, whatever it is, and if they aren't happy with the outcome, they will blame whoever "helped" them, and not themselves.

    March 2, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Reply
    • ladys

      Glad the French, Spanish, and Dutch didn't object to intervening in another country's business when we needed arms and money to fight the Revolutionary War.

      March 2, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Reply
      • taskmaster

        All of them Stuck their noses in because they were hoping to take this country over for themselves.France had been trying to shove the british out for years.So had Spain. Which one of the western nations want to rule Syria?

        March 2, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  42. thatoneguy

    Except for the fact that, despite what the tea-gelicals tell you. The U.S. is NOT a Christian Nation. The U.S. is every religion...

    March 2, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Reply
  43. What Is

    It already is a religious conflict. The Syrian leadership is Alawite and the majority of Syrians are Sunni. The autocratic Gulf States of Saudi Arabia and Qatar are Sunni. Iran is Shiite and allied with Syria. The Christian USA is allied with the Sunni Gulf States against Shiite Iran. So in a sense it is Shiite against Sunni with the Alawites in the middle and the Christians trying to figure out how to take advantage of the situation and weaken Iran by taking down Syria. Russia wishes to retain their influence in the region thru their relationship with Syria. The Chinese are being patient and watching as the West foolishly exhausts itself in needless conflicts, as they build themselves up.

    Very complicated. Easiest way to look at may be, Sunni against Shiite. To paraphrase evangalist Billy Graham, "I wish I had explained the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite to W. Bush before he invaded Iraq."

    Sad thing is that many people have very strong opinions on the matter, but could not provide even the most simplistic explanation regarding what is going on. And as mentioned above, much of the political leadership in the USA does not have a clue either yet have strong opinions, and are willing and eager to make a mess of things, and base much of their opinions on their religious mythology and desire to control the "holy lands" in Palestine, rather than rational decision making.

    Regarding Homs, just take a look at google map, satellite view. There is no way the Syrian government could have given up control of Homs. It is an absolutely vital road network in Syria. By concentrating in Homs the rebels put themselves in a position where they would definitely feel the full force of the Syrian government. They could not have won that fight, so why concentrate for a losing battle? Perhaps they should read up on guerilla war, like Mao's "On Guerilla War," and some Sun Tzu. Hezbollah, the best guerilla force in the area if not the world, is not likely to help them, they are allied with Shiite Iran.

    Given the extreme incompetence exhibited by the USA in Iraq and Afghanistan, the american people should be very concerned that their government will head into another disaster in the Middle East just as they are in the process of withdrawing from both Iraq and Afghanistan. It may look like Syria, but it is all about Iran right now.

    March 2, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Reply

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