Russia's Putin—Not Sanctions—Could End Syrian Violence

Opposition leader sees signs that Russia is re-thinking its support for the Syrian regime.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia.

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But experts and opposition officials doubt sanctions alone will bring down Assad or convince him to end the civil war.

[Middle East Nations Mulling Arms For Syrian Rebels.]

"Unless the sanctions are a major arms embargo, sanctions will never be enough," says Djerejian. "That's why I really think while the international community is talking about sanctions publicly, behind closed doors they are looking at ways to stop this from getting worse.

That could mean using military means to support the rebels, she says, without getting directly involved in the fighting.

"You could see a safe zone in Turkey, more logistical support and even CIA training for the opposition forces," says Jondy. "Those are things that would be more effective than sanctions."

Aram Nerguizian of the Center for Strategic and International Studies says that is unlikely, adding the Obama administration has Syria's long-term path in mind.

"There is a lesson here: The U.S. can't jump into Syria hoping to make things better in short term. The reality is this country is in a bitter struggle over political power," Nerguizian says. "Military action won't solve that."

John T. Bennett covers national security and foreign policy for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact him at jbennett@usnews.com or follow him on Twitter.

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