Syria: how to move forward

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Syria: how to move forward

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Tokunbo Salako, euronews: Joining me now is David Hartwell; Senior Middle East and North Africa analyst from IHS Jane’s Country Risk.(Information Handling Services)

There’s been widespread international condemnation of Russia and China’s veto on the UN resolution on Syria. China has defended its position, Moscow has even described it as bordering on hysteria.

How would you assess the options now for the international community?

David Hartwell: They appear quite limited. I think that if we discount the possibility that any kind of concerted consensus can be reached at the UN, it certainly seems very remote. I think what we may see is a tightening of European and US sanctions on Syria. We may also see an expansion of the coalition of countries that appear to have been built up demanding some form of action, a more concerted action against Syria. At the moment that consists of European countries, the US and the Arab League but in the future that may be expanded into some kind of contact group – in a way essentially bypassing the UN – a group of states effectively bypassing the UN and enforcing their own set of sanctions on the Syrian regime.

euronews: Less than 24 hours after Russia and China used their veto, we received reports of the regime, seemingly emboldened by that decision, and taking extreme action in Homs, which has been repeated today. What’s the future for the regime?

David Hartwell: “I think the problem is there’s a different perception of what’s happening or perception of Russian support. Whereas the Russians see their support as not necessarily to the Assad regime, it’s more about a principle of non-intervention and of trying to obtain an equitable solution in Syria. The Syrian perception of that Russian support is very different, and what we’re seeing is what you’ve mentioned, the Assad regime being very emboldened by that support which is believes is providing it with some protection, and therefore increasing its crackdown on opposition figures. It’s a circle that the Russians, in particular, are finding very difficult to square at the moment.”

euronews: What do you know of how unified the rebels actually are, if at all?

David Hartwell: “Well, this is one of the things which is very difficult to quantify because as you say, getting information, getting impartial information out of Syria is very difficult. I think we know the rebels are united in their belief of wanting to get rid of the current regime but how far they are united by anything more than that is a very good question. The rebels are made up of a disparate factions of seculars, nationalists, liberals, maybe some Muslim Brotherhood thrown in there, maybe some Salafist rebels thrown in as well. So, there’s a very wide-range of different views. Whether they’re actually agreed on anything more than getting rid of the existing regime we really don’t know. And I think that’s a question the West has to ask itself in the coming weeks.

euronews: David Hartwell, thank you for joining me.