A suicide bomber carried out an attack on the National Security building in Damascus, according to Syrian state television. The bomber is said to have killed Defense Minister Daoud Rajha as well as Deputy Defense Minister Assef Shawkat, President Bashar al-Assad’s brother-in-law. The attack injured several other officials.
VOA’s Susan Yackee and Mark Snowiss jointly interviewed Nadim Shehadi on the subject, discussing the situation in Syria in light of the attack as well as the subject of outside intervention. Shehadi is a Middle East expert and Associate Fellow at Chatham House, an independent policy institute based in London.
Below are highlights of some of Shehadi’s responses. Check the sound file on the bottom for a fuller version of the interview.
Shortsightedness of non-intervention
The international community’s position is shortsighted. The more militarized the conflict gets, the more difficult the transition will be later. All the people that are being armed now will have to be disarmed when the regime falls in order to bring about order. So we are adding complications.
[Opposition forces] will all claim their part according to their contributions – their military contributions rather than their political ones, which would also complicate matters. The international community’s non-position on this and non-interference is something that will cost a lot later. There is a cost for intervention, and we know that everyone is traumatized by the experience of Iraq and Libya, but there is a greater cost for non-intervention.
The less intervention, the more violence
The more the regime uses violence, the more… massacres you will see, the more bombardment of the cities. Then this will create more sectarian tension. It will involve extremists. That’s part of the cost of non-intervention.
In a way that’s what happened in Iraq. By allowing Saddam Hussein to massacre Kurds and Shiites and the Marsh Arabs – and, of course, the Iran-Iraq war and the Kuwait war – that created a sick society in the end. With sanctions, we drove Iraq back to the Stone Age. So when you take the lid off, that’s what you find. It’s the cost of non-intervention.
Legitimization of violence
The [Syrian] government will feel empowered to use violence. It will legitimate its use of violence more than before. That’s why [the suicide bombing] is a double-edged sword in terms of the opposition. I don’t think this opposition as a whole can win a military battle, whereas the government can, so this will play into the hands of the government in terms of legitimizing its response.
Listen to more of Nadim Shehadi’s insights on the situation in Syria (6:45):
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