Ghastly Images Flow from Shattered Syrian City – Rod Nordland
During two minutes on Wednesday morning, 11 rockets slammed into a single apartment building in the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs in Syria. At least 22 bodies were recovered from the scene, according to accounts and videos compiled by activists. On the ground floor lay two foreign journalists, Marie Colvin, a veteran war correspondent, and Re’mi Ochlik, a noted photojournalist. (New York Times)
Video: Homs, Syria, a City at War (Channel 4 TV-UK)
Top Syrian Military Officer Defects with Hundreds of Soldiers – Zvi Bar’el
A Syrian brigadier general has defected to the rebels along with some two hundred soldiers in the city of Idlib, opposition sources reported on Wednesday. At least 57 people were killed Wednesday across Syria, the opposition Syrian Local Coordination Committee (LCC) reported. (DPA-Ha’aretz)
What Next on Syria? – Elliott Abrams
The Assad regime is vicious and repressive. It has no legitimacy and holds on to power by brute force alone. It is also Iran’s only Arab ally, the arms supplier to Hizbullah, and an enemy of the U.S. that worked hard to send jihadis to Iraq to kill Americans. So the fall of the regime should be an American policy goal, and in this we will have considerable Arab and European support. The likely Sunni-led replacement will not have the close relationship with Iran and Hizbullah that the Assad clique has established.
The Free Syrian Army, which began with little more than press releases, is now a force in the thousands and we should be helping arm and fund it. Why? Because the real questions in Syria now are who will win and how long will this take. We ought to find an Assad victory (or perhaps one should say an Assad, Russian, Chinese, Iranian, and Hizbullah victory) unacceptable. The writer is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at CFR. (Council on Foreign Relations)
Indirect Intervention in Syria – Jeffrey White
Since direct international military intervention in Syria has been ruled out, indirect intervention – the provision of military and political assistance to the regime’s opponents – offers an alternative option that could yield success with less risk and cost.
The U.S. and others could provide weapons, training and intelligence to resistance fighters, help build enhanced capabilities for sabotage operations, and support a campaign of political warfare. Such a campaign could include information and psychological operations directed at the regime, the jamming of Syrian government communications, and the undermining of loyalties to the regime through financial or personal security inducements (e.g., exemption from prosecution, visas, and offers of asylum). The writer, a former senior intelligence officer, is a defense fellow at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Friendship Under Fire – David Makovsky
It is no secret that Netanyahu and Obama have never been close, but now is the time for the two leaders to find common ground over the Iranian nuclear issue. The U.S. and Israel clearly differ in where their red lines lie. The U.S. has put the focus on Iran actually gaining a nuclear weapon, while Israel – more vulnerable to Iranian missiles due to its geographic proximity – views the threshold as the Iranian regime’s acquisition of enough low-enriched uranium to build a bomb, pending a political decision to convert it to weapons-grade fuel.
The other set of differences has to do with how long the U.S. and Israel are willing to wait before judging the international sanctions of Iran to be a success or failure. Israeli officials fear they might not have the time to wait and see whether the sanctions halt Iran’s nuclear program peacefully.
Israeli considerations of a strike are rooted not in their ethos of self-reliance, but in the fear that the U.S. will ultimately fail to strike, even if sanctions fail. The U.S. and Israel need to come to a more precise understanding of U.S. thresholds for the Iranian nuclear program and American responses should they be breached, as well as an agreement on a timetable for giving up on sanctions. The writer is the Ziegler distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Foreign Policy)