Russia and China blocked a bid to force regime change. But a negotiated settlement is the only way out of civil war
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 7 February 2012
".....The overthrow of the Syrian regime would be a serious blow to Iran's influence in the Middle East. And as the conflict in Syria has escalated, so has the western-Israeli confrontation with Iran. Even as US defence secretary Leon Panetta and national intelligence director James Clapper acknowledged that Iran isn't after all "trying to build a nuclear weapon", Panetta has let it be known there is a "strong likelihood" Israel will attack Iran as early as April, while Iran faces crippling EU oil sanctions over its nuclear programme.
Western intervention in Syria – and Russia and China's opposition to it – can only be understood in that context: as part of a proxy war against Iran, which disastrously threatens to become a direct one. There is little sign, meanwhile, of either the Syrian regime or opposition making a decisive breakthrough.
If the opposition can't shoot its way to power and the regime doesn't implode, the only way out of deepening civil war is a negotiated political settlement leading to genuine elections. To stand any chance of success, that would now need to be guaranteed by the main powers in the region and beyond. The alternative of western and Gulf-dictator intervention could only lead to far greater bloodshed – and deny Syrians control of their own country."