Conflict & Justice

Do activists in Syria want foreign help?


A protestor waves a placard requesting assistance from the UK during a demonstration outside the Syrian embassy in London on May 7, 2011.



The international community can't seem to agree on condemning the Assad regime’s four-month crackdown on peaceful protesters.

But debate is raging among Syrian activists over whether they’d even welcome any such foreign intervention.

The debate has been brought to a boil by the visit Friday to Hama of U.S. Ambassador to Damascus Robert Ford along with his French counterpart, Eric Chevallier.

Residents of Hama, a city now at the heart of Syria’s uprising, greeted the pair with rose petals and cheers.

And while the regime itself is against any intervention—  evidenced today when protesters loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad briefly broke into the U.S. Embassy in Damascus and security guards used live ammunition to prevent them storming the French embassy — some activists are also voicing their concerns:

“I am 100 percent against any Western intervention,” said an activist and blogger, who describes herself as a leftist Syrian feminist.

“There is no role for the international community in Syria. I was also against the sanctions. It can escalate into military intervention, like what we are seeing in Libya. We don’t want that.”

Both the United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Assad and members of his inner circle while discussion on whether to pass a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the violence has been snubbed out by Russia and China.

The blogger’s absolute rejection of foreign help, however, is not universally echoed among Syrian activists.

“We are against foreign military intervention because it would destroy our country,” said an activist in Hama.

“But we welcome the sanctions against Syrian officials, efforts to delegitimize it and pressure on the regime to stop violence against people. The international community should send human rights organizations and civil society to get acquainted with the situation in Syria closely.”