- "The people want to topple the regime", 5 May 2011 in Baniyas, Syria; Source: Flickr (Syria-Frames-Of-Freedom)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged the international community to widen sanctions against Syria. Clinton called upon Europe, China and India to exert further pressure on the regime by sanctioning the oil and gas industry. She also said that Russia should stop selling arms to the Assad regime. The EU has already imposed various sanctions such as asset freezes and travel bans against military and government officials but it appears that there is only a limited range of actions to work towards an end of the conflict. Especially a military intervention seems highly unlikely, given the fact that the NATO operation in Libya swallows up a large number of resources and still has not been able to interfere decisively.
During the last week, the Syrian military continued their crackdown by entering the cities of Deir al-Zour, Hama, Khan Sheikun, Kassir and Saraqeb with tanks, killing numerous civilians and arresting many more. Demonstrations have been particularly intense in these regions. Since the beginning of the protests in March more than 1,700 people have died and allegedly thousands have been arrested.
According to a report in the NY Times, there are certain signs of weakening support for al-Assad among senior officials and former government stalwarts. A US diplomatic official has claimed it to be unlikely that al-Assad could remain in power. Concerns remain among analysts over a possible post-Assad period. There is a deeply divided opposition and clans might exploit the power vacuum to seek for more power. So far, however, President al-Assad has had his forces under control and will seek to continue his radical approach towards the protesters.