Safe Area for Syria

The Syrian National Council (SNC) is entering a critical phase in the Syrian revolution whereby the hope of a continued campaign of passive resistance to an exceptionally brutal and unrestrained regime is becoming more and more akin to a suicide pact. United States (U.S.) and European Union (E.U.) sanctions on Syria have indeed begun to take a serious economic toll on President Bashar al-Assad regime's ability to finance the state apparatus of repression. They will, in the long run, seriously impact the regime's ability to sustain its hold indefinitely over key elements of society. But sanctions have not stopped or slowed the murder, arrest, child-rape and torture of ordinary Syrians. Ten months of peaceful protests have been met with unremitting barbarism the likes of which have not been witnessed elsewhere in the Arab Spring. More than 5,000 people have been killed, over 50,000 declared missing, another 59,000 incarcerated and upwards of 16,000 dispossessed by the Assad regime.

In the interest of assessing all suggested options for hastening the end of a totalitarian dictatorship and/or averting a mass humanitarian catastrophe, this paper examines the way in which foreign military intervention could work for Syria. It does not advocate a policy but rather offers options while examining necessary political preconditions, legal rationales, logistics and possible hazards.