Mitchell Reports | February 21, 2013
>>> in syria today state tv says that 53 people were killed, more than 200 were wounded by a car bombing in damascus. at least three attacks many the capitol today. after merely two years the civil war has claimed more than 70,000 lives. joining us now is pulitzer prize winning writer and reporter dexter whose latest reporting in "the new yorker" i will lyme lum natures why a solution to this crisis has been so elusive. thanks. it's great to see you. thanks very much. you really were digging into hezbollah , its roots in beirut, of course, in lebanon , but also the iranian proxy war that is being fought in the civil war in syria . what is your bottom line in terms of the role of hezbollah , away we're seeing today in these bombings arks consideringed to most of the experts, please weigh in, is that this is really a sign of rebel strength closing in on the assad regime.
>> well, it is. to try to connect all the dots here, which is really not ease where i to do -- if you could draw a line and call that the she ooit access. hezbollah , which is a shiite armed group, also political party has been covertly -- everybody kind of knows about it now, but covertly helping the assad regime fight -- to fight the rebels. the iranian renl i'm has been doing the same thing. it's converging in syria . it's coming together. it's a proxy war . it's a hezbollah in lebanon that's been deeply involved now.
>> when you talk to officials, how do you see this playing out for them? are they simply propping up assad because he represents their sectarian interests, or do they have other hopes for power plays , power sharing in syria after they -- the fall of assad ?
>> well, no. it's really dangerous for them.
>> that could blow back into lebanon and basically could you have a sectarian war in lebanon , and that is what everybody is so terrified about?
>> it would not be the first time either. in terms of syria , we have john kerry going to europe next week. in rome he will be meeting with rebel leaders. opposition leaders. frankly, in the senate john kerry was actually among those voices calling for more engagement, more activist role. at stake now is whether we support a no supply zone.
>> can i tell you what some of the syrian rebels said to me when i met them in lebanon not long ago. they said the fighting is horrendous. i mean, i spoke with a rebel commander just across the border in lebanon . he said the fighting is awful.
>> if he with don't become more engaged or support the rebel leaders now, we will not be a factor at all in the successor regime, which they will have a big role in.
>> i think what everybody is worried about here -- and i think -- i can't speak for the obama administration, but i think it's pretty clear why they don't want to get involved is because what comes after assad ? nobody can answer that right now. the opposition in syria is very -- it's not very well organized. it's very divided. so the fear really is mother iraq, right? you bring down the goeft and then what do you have? you have chaos. that's -- that's what everybody is worried about. i think the argument that people like senator mccain are making is, look, assad is going to fall eventually, and we need to -- we need to be able to exercise our leverage. the only way we're going to be able to do that is if we get closer to the rebels because ultimately they're going to win, and i think that's what's going to play out this week.
>> is the bottom line choice go for the no fly zone but don't participate in arming the rebels because of the concerns about the weapons blowing back owes, the al qaeda influences the other forces that we can't control inside that witch's brew, if you will, inside syria right now?
>> frankly, i would be surprised if we go that far. my sense -- you know, you can't predict the future, and you certainly can't predict what the administration is iffing to do on this, but the obama administration has been very, very wary of getting involved in this war. it's been going on for two years ash as you said, there's 70,000 people dead. they're just afraid of getting involved in what looks like something that's going to go on for years, frankly, and is going to get very, very bloody and stay that way for a long time. they're just -- they just are very, very cautious about getting involved in that.
>> what we've -- what we know now is if the president who has been so occasions, dexter , as you know, leon panetta and the chaerm of the joint chiefs , martin dempsey , and hillary clinton all mtd to be more vigorously involved, but it was the white house and the president who was not willing to take those steps, and very cautious about that engagement. thank you very much for your reporting in the new yorker on this terrible syrian crisis. now, it is almost two years and more than 70,000 people that have died. thanks, dexter .