Monday, January 7, 2013

NPR: After Assad's Speech, What's The Roadmap For Syria?

Weekend Edition Sunday

Syrian President Bashar Assad gave a defiant speech Sunday, giving little hope for an ease in the violence that has left more than 60,000 dead. Host Rachel Martin talks with Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

For more on the crisis in Syria, I'm joined by Andrew Tabler. He's the author of "In the Lion's Den: An Eyewitness Account of Washington's Battle with Syria." He's here with me in the studio.
Good morning. Thanks for coming in.
ANDREW TABLER: My pleasure.
MARTIN: So, as we just heard Kelly McEvers say the war in Syria appears to be in a stalemate. Assad appears to have has dug his heels in with this address. Where are we right now in this crisis?
TABLER: We have a really interesting situation, in that President Assad seems to be in some sort of bubble, and really detached from the reality which is sort of on the ground. And that's a real problem for those that support the Assad regime, such as Russia and Iran. And on the other hand, we have the regime's battle against an opposition which is increasingly fragmented and really doesn't have one head.
So it's very difficult also for the West and for the Arab countries, and for the regional countries who back them to deal with them as well. So, you know, this storm in Syria, this hurricane that's been gathering for the better part of two years is just grown considerably worse over the last 24 hours, and I think is accented by this speech.
MARTIN: What about the plan that he put forward in this speech? This is something that we have heard before. They are the same proposals that he has put out there. Why didn't these proposals take root before when he first proposed it?
TABLER: Well, there are proposals by the international community about how to settle this, and there's called the Geneva Memorandum of June 30. And then that followed up the Annan Six Point Plan. That's one thing, President Assad just gave us his version of those plans. OK? And that's not a deal. That's just his version of them. And his version of them is the rebels have to stop fighting and then the regime will stop fighting, and then they'll talk and Assad doesn't go. And, of course, that's no deal for anyone and no deal for the opposition.
MARTIN: So what does that mean, especially for the international community? What are the next steps?
TABLER: It's going to be really interesting to see how Lakhdar Brahimi response to this because, of course, he was expecting something much more and he didn't get it.
MARTIN: He's the U.N.'s special envoy.
TABLER: Exactly, and he's the one who took over from Kofi Annan. And he's the one who's been trying to cut the baby in half in Syria. It's not going to be possible to come up with some sort of deal, given the position of the Syrian president. So I predict that I think things are going to get much worse here in the coming weeks and months. And we're headed for a much wider war in Syria.
MARTIN: But, Andrew Tabler, does - in your opinion - does Assad have to go, in order for Syria to stabilize and move forward?
TABLER: Yeah, I think that he does because in order for there to be a negotiated solution, Assad would definitely have to go. If that doesn't happen, then I think the rebels and their backers in the region will continue to support - they'll continue to fight against the regime. And we will just have a long, bloody war in Syria that will eventually depose Assad.
Now, whether the entire regime goes, or it's a rump regime or a reconstituted regime - when they're pushed out of the north and east - I don't know. It's like looking into a crystal ball, but it's increasingly cloudy.
MARTIN: That's Andrew Tabler. He is the author of "In the Lion's Den: An Eyewitness Account of Washington's Battle with Syria."
Andrew Tabler, thanks so much for coming in.
TABLER: My pleasure.

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