Anger is boiling over in Syria. Tens of thousands of Syrians took to the streets Friday to protest against Russia for vetoing a U.N. resolution that would have condemned President Bashar al-Assad's deadly crackdown on a pro-democracy uprising. And as Assad's forces continued their bombardment of Homs, the country's third largest city, activists posted internet videos begging foreign leaders to do something to stop the killing. In one disturbing clip, activist Danny Abdul Dayem stands next to the corpse of a child in a field hospital, and implores, "Is this what the U.N. is waiting for?" (See the video below.) What will it take to end the violence in Syria?
First, anti-Assad forces must unite: "The people of Syria deserve better," says The Economist, but they won't get it as long as the opposition remains divided. "The Syrian National Council is a divided gaggle of exiles," and Assad's rivals inside the country are "a ragtag of militias, gangs, and the Free Syrian Army," which consists mainly of army defectors. Alone, none of these forces is any match for Assad's tanks. If they put up a united front, outsiders can help — and arm — them, and together they can prevail.
"How to set Syria free"
Then foreign leaders must quit delaying: "If the Europeans play their cards right," says Luke Coffey at The Foundry, they could "place tremendous pressure on the regime." The EU is "Syria's number one trading partner," and if Europe freezes the assets of Syria's central bank and bans commercial air travel from the EU to Syria, Assad might think twice about his crackdown. But European foreign ministers aren't even meeting about sanctions until Feb. 27. That dawdling is appalling. "International crises do not fit neatly into bureacratic timetables... February 27 is a long time to wait for people fighting for their lives in Homs."
"EU should act quickly on Syria"
Sorry, but Syrians will have to keep waiting: The West sees Assad as a "doomed despot" whose days in power are numbered, says Tony Karon at TIME. But Assad's ruling Allawite minority views this fight as "a battle to avoid the fate that befell Iraq's Sunnis after the fall of their brutal benefactor, Saddam Hussein." And with no foreign military intervention in sight, Assad's forces will be able to hold on for quite awhile. Sadly, thousands more Syrians may die before there's "a plausible end-game."
"Why Syrians fight, and why their civil war may be a long one"
Watch activist Danny Abdul Dayem's plea for foreign help. (Warning: Contains disturbing images)