Oct 29 2012

Syria Conflict Turns Into Full Blown Civil War

Government forces in Syria today launched their heaviest air strikes yet during the 19 month long conflict, bombarding several districts on the last day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha. The bombing came after the state television reported a car bombing that apparently killed ten people in an area just outside the capital Damascus.

A tenuous ceasefire in Syria for Eid was violated from the very first day. On Friday, a group called Jabhat Al-Nusra, labeled by the Associated Press as a “radical Islamic group,” captured an area between Aleppo and Damascus, thereby disrupting the ability of government forces to reinforce their troops in Aleppo. Also on Friday, a bombing took place near a children’s playground in Damascus.

The ceasefire had been proposed by UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and was not backed by any enforcement mechanisms. If it had held, it would have been the first time in 19 months that violence would have ceased.

At least 30,000 people have been killed in the on-going conflict that has been now officially described as a “full-blown civil war.” A seriously fractured opposition is seen as one major stumbling block in efforts to efficiently counter the Syrian regime of Bashar Al Assad.

The war in Syria has also been the subject of numerous political disagreements here in the US between Democrats and Republicans, and, to an extent, within the Democratic Party. President Obama, in his foreign policy debate against Mitt Romney a week ago, called the situation in Syria “heartbreaking,” but that “ultimately, Syrians are going to have to determine their own future.” While Romney, who is pushing for greater involvement short of American ground troops, said “Syria is an opportunity for us because Syria plays an important role in the Middle East.”

GUEST: Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he chairs the Program in Middle Eastern Studies

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