June 28th, 2012
10:25 AM ET

Circling the wagons on Syria

By Fareed Zakaria for TIME

What to do in Syria? Western military intervention looks fraught with difficulties, but the situation on the ground is a humanitarian nightmare and is producing greater instability by the week. A recent trip to Turkey and Russia has persuaded me that there might be a path forward. The pressures on Bashar Assad's regime are real and mounting; it is running out of cash and now faces real military pressures from Turkey. These pressures could be heightened and combined with smart diplomacy, and they could push Assad out of power. But that would mean trying to work with the Russian government rather than attacking it.

The U.S. has been bashing Russia for shielding Assad, coddling an ally at the cost of human lives and arming the Syrian military. Some of this is true, some false, and much is exaggeration. But all is unhelpful if the goal is to oust Assad. Unless the U.S. intends to ask Iran for help, Russia is the only country with any influence with the Syrian regime.

Read more of the column at TIME

Post by:
Topics: Syria • Time Magazine

soundoff (298 Responses)
  1. Burst Bubble

    Zakaria doesn't seem to understand that radicalization of a country can take place anytime. So many experts are spouting democracy as a solution when it isn't for these people. Just because he offers that as a solution for Syria doesn't mean it will work. According to an Israeli article I read recently, democracy has made things worse in a country that hasn't grown into it. Just look at the Palestinian experiment.......... they elected a terrorist group to be their leaders!! Zakaria is just a screwed up in his opinions as this US administration is lying about the exaggerations about the Russia involvement. It is the pot calling the kettle black. Let them have their civil war..... it will probably get radicalized sooner or later.

    July 1, 2012 at 3:53 am | Reply
  2. joe

    Dear Fareed,

    Whats your point? You went to Turkey and Russia and now you have the answer to Syrian issues. I thought your boss learned from Tienanmen squire 23 years ago that you can't find solution through CNN. When is the last time CNN visited Walter Reed . Non violent saves lives also topple regimes.

    July 1, 2012 at 4:31 am | Reply
  3. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    Let us just make sure it does not widen to include the US.

    July 1, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Reply

    Mr Zakaria, You are absolutely correct. We ignored Russia way more than they deserve to be ignored. Even if we are successful in finding a solution in Syria without Russia help will hurt our relationship in long run with Russia and China. We need to work with Russia and China in finding a solution or leave them to the region or the people of Syria. Eventually they will overcome brutal Asaad. Asaad will never be able to put this history behind him no matter how many innocent lives he take.

    July 1, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Reply
    • Thomas Hooley

      I have been following his crisis very closely for many months. The terror tactics the Al Assad regime has been using are Stalinistic in nature, they were taught by the Assad regime by the Russians. In fact, in a very real way the entire Syriam at,y is an extension of the Red Army... All Russian equipment and ammunition, and for the most part Russian trained. Russia is directly culpable for the literally psychopathic torturing and murdering of thousands of men woman and children, that's right, they are directly responsible for YORTURING AMD MURDURING CHILDREN, if you don't think so, then why are they vetoing U.N. intervention? The United Stated has a policy of not negotiating with terrorists; well, in this matter, Vlad Putin is absolutely acting as a terrorist and the U.S.A. must not negotiate with him; rather, we must take a courageous uncompromising stance against him. The U.S. will be energy independent within 10 years, we do not need to kiss Russia's ass, they need us more than we need them and that shall increasingly be the case. Again, Syria is a pawn of Russia, Russia is directly responsible for the atrocities being committed. Russia must be consequenced. The U.S.A. and our allies must show strength to Russia and see too it that their utterly reprehensible actions are consequenced. This will set a precedent and ultimately save lives.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Reply
      • Andrey

        Hooley did you puke all this crap? You have only demonstrated what following CNN closely for months made to your brain! Hooley did you do it?
        "Hooliey" sounds like an obscenity in Russian by the way. Hooley do you use such a nickname?

        July 2, 2012 at 12:24 am |
      • gina

        Personally, I appreciate reading your analysis.
        I have always felt uneasy about any alliance with the current Russian government.

        July 2, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  5. Peace

    People, in memory of Rodney King, can we ...get along??? Just NUKE trouble makers, leave everyone else alone.

    July 1, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Reply
    • AlexShch

      An interesting fruitful idea... However, the most difficult part is identifying the troublemakers first.

      July 1, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Reply
  6. nadinesh

    That's why it was beyond stupid to shoot down the Turkish jet. It still boggles my mind that the Syrians did such a ridiculous thing.

    July 1, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Reply
    • krm1007 ©™

      They shot down the jet because they are totally paranoid. Maybe they thought it was the beginning of an attack. Whichever way it goes, a regime change is necessary.
      What is needed is a secular government worried about roads, health, education, preservation of all artifacts.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Reply
      • AlexShch

        may be they were paranoid, or may be not. May be they did not have time to think because the have to decide it very fast. In fact, we do not know, and probably will never know. The the best way we can do about this incident is simply IGNORE it as in never happened.

        July 1, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
      • AlexShch

        ...Besides Assad is the most secular government imaginable in that region. Any alternative would be more into some branch of Islam.

        July 1, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  7. Ariel

    The problem with Russia-bashing is that our top diplomats are ideologically driven morons. Susan "2-bit brain" Rice in the UN does little but froth and threaten, alienating any neutral country and creating ill-will for the US. Hillary Clinton is not exactly a bright light, and her immortal non-diplomatic comment "...our bond with Israel is unshakable." didn't exactly sound impartial to Arab minds.

    Back in Dubya's days at least they had no pretense about what (and for whom) the US stood for.

    July 1, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Reply
    • AlexShch

      I agree.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Reply
  8. Fredsta

    If you followed the conflict from the first demonstrations, and the Assad regime crackdown thereon, it is obvious that this is not a sectarian conflict, as Alawite, Christian, Sunni, Kurds, and Shia are not siding with their sectarian interests, but rather taking a stand for freedom. Basically, they will never submit to tyranny—to being shot, detained, tortured and bombarded merely for speaking their truth. That is what is happening.

    Free Syria is about freedom. Stop parroting the Assadist regime's lies that this is about sectarianism, or a super-power proxy war, and stand up for freedom, like the heroes of Free Syria are doing.

    July 1, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Reply
    • T-bone Thakur

      Do you still believe in Santa, the tooth fairy?

      July 2, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Reply
  9. Thomas Hooley

    I normally like Fareed Zakaria's articles, I think he is a good ,am who means well; however, I must say that this article is an OUTRAGE! Rissia is directly responsible for this whole crisis. They are behind the Assad regime first coming power and they are behind the terror tactics of torturing and murdering non-violent, innocent protesters, including TORTURING AND MIRDURING CHILDREN. The U.S.A must honor the lives of those innocent Syrian protesters by assuring that Russia loses its port in Suria and loses major influence in Syria when the time comes, and it will, when Bashar has been executed and Syria forges a new Democracy. The Islamic brotherhood is not nearly as bad as people think, they at least have a strong sense of morality and they would be much better, even from a Western point of view, than the current regime, which is literally evil, and a pawn of Russia and Syria, whose governments are also more or less evil. The United States must lead with courage and have a courageous, uncompromising stance towards Russia. We must show strength to Russia, not offer cowardly appeasement. When Russia loses its port and influence in Syria, it will set a precedent which will ultimately save lives.

    July 1, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Reply
    • Andrey

      Hooley you sound like raving moron... I would be concerned if you liked anything about me. But I do not think there would be any reason to worry. I am Russian, you know: for sure you would like me dead. That is OK: I do not like you neither.

      July 2, 2012 at 12:29 am | Reply
      • Andrey

        Well, I am muslim first then Russian next.
        The only thing is you cannot ask me why I cannot live in Russia anymore.

        July 2, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
      • Andrey

        Well, it must have hurt: so somebody went out of his/her way to post this crap here using my name! I do not see it that often here. So it shows that my posting was not in vain and somebody was paying attention! It feels good!

        July 2, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  10. Peikovianyi

    One hopes that after Syria has experienced sectarian warfare Alawite/Shiite versus Sunni, after support given Hezbollah by the Ba'ath Party, the al-Assad family, and the Iranian Ayatollahs against the Maronite Christians of Lebanon, after decades of hostilitiy to the Palestinian Jews (who became Israelis in self-defense), there would be some moderating of this endless violence. People have to learn at some point.

    July 2, 2012 at 12:42 am | Reply
  11. Me

    Its truly amazing how foolish we as a people have become. In my country, there's a funny thing that can happen. If an hungry person steals a dough nut, he's gonna go to jail for 15 years. A politician steals a billion dollars and he may actually walk free or tops get 3 years in jail. Bankers in your countries are robbing you dry, and yet they are walking free, and actually gets bailed out too... those same people are sponsoring wars through your military across the world in the name of democracy, killing and destroying families.. and you guys are here talking about sunni and shia age old wars. who are arming the parties? drone strikes in countries suspected of harboring terrorists, killing innocent people and yet clinton is talking about blood on who's hands? look guys, make your leaders responsible, stop them from spending all the money on weapons and use some to take care of your obviously suffering society. believe me, no body is interesting in harming america. its your war machine that is destroying everyone's lives; and yours as well. most people just want to live their lives on their own terms. you are been lied to everyday and obviously you have still not gotten smart enough wake up you dumb fuks!!!

    July 2, 2012 at 9:04 am | Reply
  12. nc1965

    Headline: How to avoid a wider war in Syria

    Simple: bribe Russia. This country is a money w h o r e, not a democracy, and will sell to the highest bidder.

    If you want to stop the Syrian crisis, show Russia the money.

    To them money talks but B S doesn't walk.

    July 2, 2012 at 9:55 am | Reply
    • Andrey

      US is a country known for making enemies and buying friends.
      Why would not they try to do something different for once.
      For some reason they believe it is the smart thing to do.
      Makes me sad.

      July 2, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Reply
  13. Here we go again

    The US should stop trying to be the world's hall monitor and start cooperating with other countries on resolutions to these humanitarian issues. What happened in iraq, with us going in alone, should never happen again. It is not right for the US to shoulder everything- the costs, the blame, the loss of human life.

    July 2, 2012 at 10:05 am | Reply
    • matt in nw

      agree 100% ..... for the very reasons you said. also it would help for us to remove the deeply entrenched career politicians from washington that seem to get us involved in global crap because of some corporate interests ...by way of term limits...remove lobbyists ..IF we did this maybe we could focus on our own country- and people for a change.

      July 2, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Reply
  14. Tahir

    The problem of Syria is that USA do not like Assad and it wants to remove Assad.It is sad that so many people are dieing only to fulfill the desire of US people.

    July 2, 2012 at 11:56 am | Reply
    • RebelSyrian

      because Assad is Dictator and a criminal against humanity .

      July 2, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Reply
    • matt in nw

      the US isnt involved, at all...and it should stay that way. I like how people blame us for everything....take some responibility for your own actions for once...leave us out of it!!!

      July 2, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Reply
  15. matt in nw

    Its time that the world takes care of its self...... Its not up to the US to topple anyone..... Russia and China (and the World) are alway critical of the US and its actions.....time to see how THEY do on the world stage....or will they leave it to us because no one else can take the garanteed firestorm of criticism that will always follow.

    I and preety sure 95% of americans are bloody tired of being dragged into every conflict on the globe, either by our own self serving leaders or a world that sits on its hands waiting for 'someone else' to step in because their re afraid of being wrong.

    July 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Reply
    • Andrey

      They will leave it to you: because they do not have the ambition to police the world. There is nothing outside that makes you do it: it is all inside your head.

      July 2, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Reply
      • matt in nw

        already many around the world are wondering why we are sitting idle 'letting this happen'.

        the US is alway damned we do. and damned if we dont.... all in our heads? I wish......

        July 2, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
      • Andrey

        Yes Matt, that is what your "free press" tells you.

        July 2, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  16. WhenWillWeEverLearn

    I don't know Syria from Lebanon, but I'm familiar with American politics. If the conflict in Syria is anywhere as toxic as US partisan politics, I say stay clear, I wouldn't touch that third rail with an army of 10-foot Poles! In defense of Mr. Zakaria, I must say that his essays are usually intelligent and reasonable.

    July 2, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Reply
  17. Burst Bubble

    Just because Zakaria sounds reasonable doesn't mean we need to get involved. The UN is meddling is something it shouldn't. I agree with the Russians on this one. The Syrian issues is their problem. It is what Cilvil wars are about. The people want change and the leadership doesn't. I am seeing a pattern here and it is the UN meddling in sovereign countries problems. Are we really going to have a new world order? If the UN keeps this up, I bet we will.

    July 3, 2012 at 2:04 am | Reply
  18. KEVIN

    Fareed, you are super brilliant. But I believe it is none of our business who wins this civil war in Syria (Russia and China also believes this) It is only the West who wishes to pick a side.

    July 3, 2012 at 2:45 am | Reply
  19. tre truth

    We should give weapons and supplies to a bunch of Muslims. I mean worked out last time didn't it?

    July 3, 2012 at 8:47 am | Reply
    • Burst Bubble

      You are so right, muslims already have guns but just like their pikes they are toooo smallll.
      Lets give them big ones.

      July 3, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Reply
  20. BlogMediator

    You know what, we have ever increasing umemployment in this country, resulting in a continuation of an unstable economy and threatening to lower our hard-earned standard of living that we as Americans have come to expect for ourselves and our children and we are concerning ourselves with Syria?!!! Stay the hell out of it! Bring our soldiers home and put all this ridiculous military funding into massive civilian projects to build up our nfrastructure. We need jobs on American soil for American people!

    July 7, 2012 at 7:50 am | Reply
  21. Th true Blogg Mediator

    Blog mediators do not join in the conversation.
    Go back to your mullah or imam and tell him you are a miserable failure.
    Maybe your next assignment should be as a suicide bomber.

    July 7, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Reply
  22. Put Syria on Backburner, Focus On India

    India has become too big to govern or create any value for western countries or even for its own population. We have invested a lot of resources in India over the past two decades and given a lot of aid to prop it up. There has been no investment on this return. Instead India has squandered all the resources in building nuclear weapons while poverty remains rampant in the country. We need to revisit our relationship with India. American taxpayers will not tolerate this anymore. We need to take care of our own populace going forward. We cannot be exporting jobs to India or giving it financial or technical handouts.

    July 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Reply
    • Put Syria on Backburner, Focus On India

      The thesis is that smaller independent states will generate tremendous economic demand for western nations.

      July 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Reply
    • Global Democratic Government Inc._ GDG ©

      We subscribe to the school of thought that these G2/8/20 etc, IMF, World Bank, superpowers and UN et al have lived their utility and should be undone. Syria is the latest example of why. Syrians are being massacred while everyone is watching. Helpless...powerless...pathetic.
      An elected world government should emerge based on democratic principles of one person one vote. There will be no veto powers. The center of seat will be based in developing countries

      July 7, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Reply
  23. Syrian Shawarma

    We agree with Global Democratic Government Inc._ GDG © premise that an elected world government should emerge based on democratic principles of one person one vote. There will be no veto powers. The center of seat will be based in developing countries. This will be in lieu of G2/8/20 etc, IMF, World Bank, superpowers and UN.

    July 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Reply
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    July 8, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Reply
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