The Cycle | July 18, 2012
>>> there is developing news this wednesday in the cycle". a strategic blow to the heart of assad 's syrian regime. today in damascus, rebels targeted his inner circle . his brother-in-law defense minister and head of his crisis team are all now dead. rebels say they've planned the bombing and army helicopters are still retaliating by firing on neighborhoods as the war rages on. the u.n. security council was supposed to be voting this hour on a resolution to put additional sanctions on syria and the assad regime. that has been delayed till tomorrow. russia , of course, has veto power over the security council and has been strongly against both added sanctions or military intervention in syria . there are also reports the white house is saying to stay away from all of this till after the november elections. but pentagon chief leon panetta says we might not be able to wait that long.
>> we are very concerned by the increasing violence that's taking place in syria . the violence there has only gotten worse and the loss of lives has only increased. which tells us that this is a situation that is rapidly spinning out of control.
>> all right. we will start now with nbc news foreign correspondent eamon mohyeldin and mike viqueira at the white house . ayman , you say today's attack is tactically significant.
>> tactically, you've taken out the deputy minister of defense, the defense minister and a senior military officer all within the command and control structure of the military at the tip and spear of these. 0 rations to suppress the uprising. have you disrupted that to the extent that the military can not trust of who is among its midst. how did they penetrate the inner circle of the regime to carry out such a lethal explosion. even if they cannot meet to discuss out who carry out operations you get the sense of the kind of paranoia that can infiltrate the inner circles of the regime. from a psychological point of view that somebody was able to go deep into the heart of the regime with little collateral daniel no doubt is going to raise the anxiety levels because president assad , the question is how can he even meet with his senior officials if those among them cannot be trusted. it will have an impact on both fronts.
>> ayman , there's more news in the region today. there's also a story out of bulgaria where seven israeli tourists at least right now are reportedly dead after an attack on a bus carrying them. benjamin netanyahu says he blames iran for this and ready to respond forcefully. i wonder what you think the implications for this are in terms of the israel and iran situation.
>> well, there's to doubt there's been this proxy war , if you will, over the past several years months taking place. we saw nens in india and other countries where israel and western countries pinted the finger drengtly at iran for attempting to carry out attacks against israeli interests in those countries. the question really is, what evidence is there that this was carried out by iran . we know that the politics of it likely point to iran , but there has to be clear evidence nonetheless, regardless, it will only raise the level of anxiety in this part of the world that much more. the tension between these two countries has been mounting for the last several months. if indeed this is proven to be an iranian attack and if it is proven to be one with direct relations to the iranian government , there's no doubt that it is going to raise those stakes that much more.
>> let me go to you, vick. there's been talk throughout the arab spring really about al qaeda infiltrating these rebel groups , including in syria . and it's not surprising. al qaeda has a history of exploiting these opportunities of chaos to come in and sort of infiltrate these vulnerable groups. i'm wondering if you have any insight as to why the obama administration, why the united states seems to think that that's a good reason not to intervene supposed to a good reason to intervene.
>> probably because there's a lot more to it than that, frankly. the situation in libya was complicated enough and the situation leading up to the ouster of moammer gadhafi and his ultimate death chaotic enough the administration sees this as much more in the heather of the middle east . bashar al assad is obviously a pariah in many quarts but to the extent that gadhafi was. when you factor in the fact that the iranian government remains the sole ally in the whole shia sunni schism in the area, it makes it that much more complicated and brings into question the extent ta al qaeda might be playing because al qaeda is really not a force to be reckoned with in the shia world, particularly in iran . there's a whole lot to unpack here. we learned in the briefing today, jay carney confirming the packet that president obama called his russian counterpart, vladimir putin about a couple hours ago i guess it was. they talked about syria on the eve of this upcoming vote ayman was just talking about.
>> one of the things on the agenda tomorrow is reauthorizing the mission of the u.n. monitors who have been in syria . from all accounts today, those u.n. monitors are basically relegated to their hotel and aren't able to do any of the ork they were sent there to do. have had he accomplished anything and is there any point from a frac cal standpoint of a continued u.n. monitoring mission?
>> well, it depends on who you ask. if you look at the trajectory of this u.n. observer mission over the past 90 days , which was the or mandate, it has completely failed to do what it was meant to do which is observe and try to refrain the two sides really from engaging in violence. so what has happened is about six weeks ago, the violent spike to a degree that even the u.n. observe ser vers on the ground didn't feel safe. they were being subjected to attacks and it rendered them useless. now the discussion was, why would you even want to reup that u.n. missioning if in fact the first mission completely failed and neither side is abiding by the truce? the sticking point is that the united states and western countries wanted to enforce that this time around, if both sides don't meet the requirements that this could be enforced by the united nations under a chapter 7 claus or i an chapter 7 resolution. russia objects to that and sayny mention to chapter 7 would be a gateway for wen countries to use us military interventionings to force president assad out of power and that is thing they've rejected throughout this entire conflict.
>> mike, take us into the white house thought process for a second. what part does the fact that this is a civil war as said by the red cross and everybody else, what part does that play.
>> generally we don't intervene. civil conflicts. yes, libya , yes bosnia, but --
>> i think each ep situation really dictates by the country, by the geo politics by some of the things we were talking about earlier. you look at what president obama said and did leading up to the libya , to go back to that. moammar gadhafi 's forces were simply an propping benghazi. the jeo politics involving russia and china with russia supplying syria many of its arms. now the president used moammar gadhafi 's threatening speech that he was going to take them from our closs hes and take them out and shoot them as a pretense to entering the international coalition. when you look at the complicated domestic politics, john mccain saying virtually every the administration's performance has been shameful on this. this is much more complicate the. the geopolitics are much more involved. they're treading very carefully working to build the international coalition and perhaps there's some indications here, putin just met with kofi annan in moscow. now we've had the call on the eve of this vote here. some indications russia might be thinking its arm apples policy towards syria at this time and this dramatic development with the assassination of the defense minister and bashar al assad himself. i don't think anybody knows exactly what's going to be happening.
>> mike, any indication at that time assassination today is changing the administration's calculus with regards to getting more involved directly in syria .
>> i don't think so. the violence is increasing. it makes clear assad is losing his cloel. in trying to keep the pressure such as they can, without getting directly involved and bringing themselves into direct conflict with russia and china, diplomatically on this situation, although again, that's a point of vulnerability politically, if people are dying, then why are we waiting for russia and china's permission to do anything? but i think the situation is so complicated so tricky that they're hoping things go their way. meanwhile, unfortunately, incidents liking this are happening.
>> mike viqueira and a man