On the other hand, while the opposition has made skillful use of social media networks to coordinate protests, disseminate their messages, and win broad international sympathy, Facebook and Twitter are no protection against machine guns and tanks. Furthermore, although Damascus and Aleppo, Syria’s two largest cities and home to half the total population of 22.5 million, have seen some small demonstrations, the residents have yet to join the protest movement in a significant way.
Similarly, the traditional merchant classes so far have remained on the sidelines, unwilling to commit to either side until the future becomes clearer – even as their profit margins tumble as the economy goes into decline.
The United States and the European Union have slapped sanctions on key Syrian leaders and the EU is set to impose a ban on Syrian oil imports to European markets. But there is little appetite for a direct intervention in Syria, similar to the NATO support mission in Libya against the regime of Col. Muammar Qaddafi. NATO’s assistance to the Libyan rebels was granted only following a green light from the 22-member Arab League.