Syria is seeing some of the worst violence of the 11-month uprising against Bashar al-Assad amid an ongoing international standoff over how to respond. Assad’s forces have launched what appears to be one of their fiercest assaults on the flashpoint city of Homs to date. Both the United States and Britain have closed their embassies in the Syrian capital of Damascus and withdrawn diplomatic personnel, citing safety fears. As the crisis escalates, Russia and China are facing criticism for blocking a U.N. Security Council resolution backed by the United States and Arab League calling for a political transition in Syria. To discuss the situation in Syria, we’re joined by Patrick Seale, a leading British writer on the Middle East and author of "Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East." "It’s at least a two- or possibly a three-stage crisis. Internally in Syria, the situation is getting worse by the day," Seale says. "At a higher level, there is a struggle between the United States, on the one hand, and its allies, and its opponents like Russia and China... Then there’s a third level, possibly, of Arab Gulf states like Qatar, for example, even Saudi Arabia behind it, who are obsessed and worried by Iran, and they think that Iran might stir up Shia communities in the region." [includes rush transcript–partial]moreless
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