In spite of its suspension from the Arab League, Syria is still under the iron thumb of its president, Bashar al-Assad. Unwilling to step down from power, Mr al-Assad is hitting out at protesters against his regime brutally. Activists are being shot down by the army, as the international community watches with mounting alarm. Syriaís neighbour, Turkey, is taking aggressive steps to curb the excesses of Mr al-Assadís supporters. Turkey is already considering plans for a no-fly zone to protect civilians in Syria, although the Arab League, as a whole, is yet to come up with concrete measures. A Nato-style attack on Syria, like the one that ended the tyranny of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, is not an option yet. But things may come to this pass if Mr al-Assad refuses to mend his ways in the near future.
Apart from the incalculable costs to life and property that a military intervention by foreign powers would cause in Syria, such a move would never be free of ethical ambiguities. In spite of its wayward government, Syria is still a sovereign nation, which must be allowed to sort out its domestic troubles in its own way. At best, regional powers, which have a better understanding of the context of the Syrian unrest, could arbitrate in the matter. But the presence of Western troops in this already volatile terrain may end up doing more harm than good to the beleaguered State. In Libya, for instance, the end of Gaddafiís dictatorship has not necessarily ended the desire for vendetta. Gaddafi loyalists continue to be hounded and executed, the country is awash with weapons and arsenal, and the interim transitional government is getting enmeshed in petty squabbles and infighting. Syria needs all the support it can get from the international community ó but it may not necessarily be given in the form of weapons.