Currently there are no signs that the regime in Syria will manage to put a stop to the protests. With reports of more then 1000 demonstrators killed the stance of the protesters have hardened; a national dialogue that was announced by the regime is unlikely to happen as long as Bashar al-Assad and his family remains in power. Although leaders in USA and the EU have made it clear that President Assad must either meet the aspirations of the people, conduct meaningful reforms or get out of the way this seems exceedingly unlikely. Instead what we are looking at is a slow downward spiral where the violence against the protesters will mobilize more and more people and at the same time strengthen the hand of the hardliners within the regime.
It is with this in mind that the as of yet confidential report from IAEA must have come as a most unwelcomed development for the regime. In the report, which has leaked to media, IAEA found that the Syrian site bombed by Israel in 2007 was “very likely” to have been a nuclear reactor built with North Korean aid with the aim of producing plutonium. It seems likely that USA and EU will push for a resolution in IAEA’s 35-nation board to have the case referred to the Security Council as was done with Iran in 2006.
In the UNSCR Russia has been Syria’s staunch ally, dismissing any and all possibilities for a resolution condemning the violence let alone imposing sanctions. What is happening in Syria does, according to Russia, not fulfil the legal criteria as set out in the Charter of the United Nations, specifically chapter VII, articles 39, 41 and 42, i.e. does not constitute a threat to international peace and security. But there has been a slight shift. During the G8 summit President Medvedev said that “President Assad should switch from words to actions and conduct real democratic reforms”.
This attitude of shielding Syria may change if the board of the IAEA votes to refer Syria to UNSCR.