“Free Syrian Army on the Ropes”

New York Times, Tuesday, January 20, 2015

U.S. Signals Shift on Ending Syrian War: Assad’s Ouster Isn’t Priority

BACKING NEW MEDIATION: Gradual Change Takes Priority, With Less Focus on Assad, by Anne Barnard and Somini Sengupta:

Beirut, Lebanon: American support for a pair of initiatives in Syria underscores the shifting views of how to end the civil war there and the West’s quiet retreat from its demand that the country’s president, Bashar-al-Assad, step down immediately.

The Obama administration maintains that a lasting political solution requires Mr. Assad’s exit. But facing military stalemate, well-armed jihadists and the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the United States is going along with international diplomatic efforts that could lead to more gradual change in Syria…

But the diplomatic proposals face serious challenges, relying on the leader of a rump state who is propped by foreign powers and hemmed in by a growing and effective extremist force that wants to build a caliphate.  Many of American allies in the Syrian opposition reject the plan, and there is little indication that Mr. Assad or his main allies, Russia and Iran, feel any need to compromise.  The American-backed Free Syrian Army is on the ropes in northern Syria, once it’s stronghold, and insurgents disagree among themselves over military and political strategy…

 On the ropes is a sports metaphor/idiom from boxing.  If a boxer has been pushed into or onto the ropes surrounding the boxing space, he or she has been pummeled by the opponent. 




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