NEW YORK -- As the debate over how to support the opposition in Syria grows louder in Washington, a Syrian activist closely affiliated with the opposition's coordinating structure told The Huffington Post that the West must intervene -- but that half measures could make the situation worse.
"I think we've reached a dead end," Karam Nachar, a Syrian activist who is based in the U.S., told HuffPost in a video interview last week. "And without a stick, not just a carrot, there won't be any kind of response from the regime."
The United States has indicated for weeks that it was hoping to take additional steps to aid the opposition, and on Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told a Senate panel that plans are being explored to send various forms of assistance to the rebels.
But Panetta also said that Syria has "no simple answers," and together with Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, laid out a number of complicating factors that make American intervention, or even military assistance, hard to come by.
Nachar, who is Syrian by birth and whose father, a longtime dissident, now serves on the opposition Syrian National Council, acknowledged those concerns. But he argued that taking partial measures -- particularly if they are perceived as assisting the rebel Free Syrian Army -- without a sustained and comprehensive package of support could escalate the fighting.
"Building up an alternative army without first building a buffer zone would be a very dangerous, counterproductive method," Nachar said, referring to protected areas for the rebel military to gather and possibly conduct air strikes. "I think arming the Free Syrian Army without all of these other things is very dangerous. It threatens to turn the country into another Somalia, as opposed to another Libya."
Nachar also rejected Western concerns that the opposition is too fragmented, and that arms or other forms of military assistance could fall into the hands of extremists groups, saying that some of these developments are a consequence of Western delays in intervention.
"If there's no actual plan, no real support, from the United States, from Turkey and the Arab League, if there's no actual plan to act swiftly, then yes, radicals and extremists thrive on despair, and people on the ground are definitely getting more and more desperate," Nachar said. "If you interfere, you are not enabling al Qaeda, you are helping the people to accomplish something on the ground and getting them further away from any kind of attempt of al Qaeda members to infiltrate the revolution."
Watch the videos above to see clips of Nachar discussing all of this and what took place recently in Homs, as well as some personal insight into how the opposition organizes itself on the ground and distributes information to the world. You can also watch the full interview.