The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Syrian VP: We Are All Losing This War

Farouk al-Sharaa, Syria’s longtime vice president, voiced the sentiment of many on Sunday when he said that both sides of the Syrian civil war are losing. With neither Assad nor the rebels able to achieve outright victory and Syrians fleeing to neighboring countries as their beautiful cities are bombed and burned into rubble, few people would say Sharaa is wrong.

Sharaa, a Sunni Muslim, told a Lebanese newspaper that the Assad regime “cannot achieve change” through military force and that neither the government nor the rebels can “decide the battle militarily.” An “historic settlement” with the rebels is needed to end the war.

Meanwhile, government aircraft bombed the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp yesterday, and this morning, according to reports, the army told people to leave the camp, suggesting that a ground invasion or further airstrikes were coming. The New York Times reports:

In Yarmouk, burned body parts littered the ground at the Sheik Abdul Qader mosque, which had offered shelter to Palestinians and others displaced by fighting in other areas. Minutes before, a Syrian fighter jet fired rockets at the camp. Women, crying children and white-bearded men thronged the streets with hurriedly packed bags, not sure where to look for safety.

And the BBC:

Afterwards, clashes flared between Palestinians from the pro-Assad Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) and rebel fighters.

“There is a state of real war in the camp now,” resident Abu Mohammed told the AFP news agency on Monday.

The attack on the Palestinian camp is a “dramatic escalation” and the signs suggest Assad is losing whatever last shred of legitimacy he had. After the attack on Yarmouk, Hezbollah and Iran follow Russia’s tip-toe away from Assad. The NYT reports:

Several of Mr. Assad’s allies signaled a new push for a peaceful solution. Iran’s Foreign Ministry called for an end to military action, the release of political prisoners and a broad-based dialogue to form a transitional government that would hold free elections, Iran’s state news agency reported. [ . . . ]

In neighboring Lebanon, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, appeared to acknowledge for the first time that the Syrian uprising is at least in part driven by popular sentiment.

Terrible things may still happen in Syria before the war ends, and the end of Assad may not be the end of the horrors, but there’s no hope for the healing to begin until the Assads are gone.

Published on December 17, 2012 9:10 am