Since the beginning of the Arab Spring, we’ve seen the fall of dictatorships in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya, along with protests of varying degrees in virtually every other Middle Eastern country. Aside from NATO’s intervention in Libya, the Western world has largely sat back and watched as these events unfolded.
But meanwhile in Syria, the government of Bashar Al-Assad has viciously cracked down on the pro-democracy uprising, leading the country to the brink of civil war. In addition, the Syrian conflict has led to strong disagreements between Russia and the United States. Russia has a vested interest in Syria. Their naval base in the Mediterranean port of Tartus is the last Russian military base outside the former Soviet Union and the only spot Russian ships can refuel outside their territorial waters– aside from returning to bases in the Black Sea, which takes them through the Bosphorus Strait in Turkey– a member of NATO.
Is a potential Cold War era-type standoff why the United States hasn’t aided the Syrian people? An Aspen Ideas Festival session explores the Arab Spring in the 18 months after the uprisings began and discusses U.S. intervention, or the lack thereof, in the Syrian conflict.