Rebel Victory Likely Won’t End War In Syria

America’s top intelligence official is saying that the downfall of the Assad regime likely wouldn’t end the fighting in Syria:

WASHINGTON — As it cobbles together additional aid for rebel fighters there, the Obama administration believes Syria could face a protracted, bloody conflict, even if the rebels succeed in ousting President Bashar al-Assad, several officials said Thursday.

The top American intelligence official, James R. Clapper Jr., said that even if Mr. Assad’s government fell, sectarian fighting would most likely engulf the country for a year or more. The American ambassador to Syria, Robert S. Ford, warned that without a negotiated political transition, supporters of the Assad government, “fearing death, would fight to the death.”

Those bleak assessments, delivered in separate hearings before the House and the Senate, underscore the grinding nature of the conflict in Syria and the administration’s pessimism that outside intervention will avert further humanitarian tragedy.

“I agree with you that the prospects in Syria are not good,” said Elizabeth Jones, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, who along with Mr. Ford faced sharp questioning from members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee over what the members said was an inadequate American response to the continuing bloodshed.

This may be the most worrisome aspect of the Syrian situation. As with Iraq, the downfall of the strongman is likely to lead the various ethnic groups that make up the nation to start turning on each other. Given that Syria is located in one of the powder keg areas of the Middle East, this is most assuredly not a good thing.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Ah, yes, the liberal media’s “Arab Spring.” Sunshine and lollipops. Or whatever.

    Regarding Syria, it’s a rat hole. It’s been a rat hole. It was a rat hole in 1973, when the Israelis had nothing between their armoured units and Damascus. It was a rat hole in 1991, when the Syrians fought against Saddam and didn’t look all that competent about it. It was a rat hole in 2001, when they silently celebrated 9/11. It’s a rat hole today. It’ll be rat hole tomorrow. Next year, too.

    Iran is the real issue in the Middle East. Not Syria. Hopefully we don’t find that out the Chamberlain way. It’s not exactly easy to be optimistic. Oddly enough Obama has not been able to wave his Nobel Peace Prize in front of people’s faces, nor his magic wand, to make the world’s problems go away. C’est la vie.

  2. CB says:

    If we are going to run with the Iraq analogy, the scary part is that we’re still in the deposition phase. We haven’t even gotten to the ‘real’ civil war yet.

  3. 11B40 says:


    And just when I was beginning to think that Fouad Ajami had gotten all that “Those are the lands of I against my brother; my brother and I against our cousin; and my cousin, my brother, and I against the stranger.” stuff wrong.

    I’m no strategist. My brain reaches its capacity just dealing with tactical concerns. One of its strengths, though, in that regard, is my ability to notice things others consider minutia but that can provide real insight.

    A couple of nights ago, the local Progressive (née Public) Broadcasting System TV station aired a “Frontline” documentary about Syria called “Syria; Behind the Lines” or some such.

    The focus of the program was on a river valley where the Assad-loving Alawites were on one side and the Sunni rebels were on the other. The film seemed to me to be pretty evenhanded, at least for PBS, but there was one bit of information that the filmaker either didn’t think important or wasn’t aware of its implications.

    All the women on the Sunni side were hijab-ed up. Many women on the Alawite side were not.

    Islam is the millstone. If your plan doesn’t include constraining, undermining, or eradicating Islam, you don’t have a plan. What you have is a hope.