Syrian regime will fall: professor

The increasingly bloody conflict in Syria will probably continue for a while yet, but the regime's brutality means that in the end it will not be able to cling on to power, University of Otago Middle East expert William Harris says.

Prof Harris said he had been surprised at how well the Syrian regime had clung to power, but believed it was still only a matter of time before it fell.

''As far as I can tell, this is going to be a pretty long haul, but my view remains that the regime will eventually collapse, because there is no possibility of it recovering legitimacy amongst the bulk of the population. The more people it kills, the more angry people there are.''

The latest UN estimate puts number killed in the conflict at 60,000. The West could speed up the process through the use of ''pinpoint'' military strikes, which could be in the form of a cruise missile strike on an aircraft which was attacking civilians.

This would ''psychologically shock'' President Bashar al-Assad's regime, which was ''arrogant'' in its belief the West would never touch it.

The West should also persistently call for members of the regime to be dealt with by the International Criminal Court, which could scare some of its members into leaving the country or defecting to the opposition.

If the current course was continued, it was likely the conflict would drag on much longer, with an increase in the number of extremists in the opposition and a messier aftermath once the regime eventually did fall.

The West also faced having less of an influence on a post-al-Assad regime if it did not do more to intervene.

-vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz