“You smell death everywhere you go,” said a wounded activist last week, describing the Syrian city of Homs, where the regime of Bashar al-Assad has vented its fury on its own people. Horrors in Homs and other cities mount, but the opposition is not cowed. Yet their bravery is not enough: Despite almost a year of protests and regular reports of Assad’s imminent demise, the Syrian dictator remains in power.
The Arab League tried to broker a settlement to ease Assad out but failed, though it may take up the task again. Much of the world signed on to sanctions against Syria, but the economic pain so far is not enough to convince Assad loyalists to abandon the regime. As the body count grows, with hundreds reportedly dying this past week, the Syrian opposition is clamoring for help.
What can the United States do? The Syrian opposition was initially leery of calling for American aid, but as the violence has grown, it has become more open to outside help, asking for “international protection” and calling plaintivelythis month for “everyone around the world to speak up and do something to stop the bloodshed of innocent Syrians.” Some among the opposition have now called for a Libya-style international intervention.