Random posts on all sorts of things designed to inform and provoke.
The global international community has long expressed solidarity with the Syrian rebels in their just battle against the heinous Assad regime.
Even though this support has not resulted in any concrete public assistance (military or non-military), the encouraging words emanating from the world’s capitals surely provide some solace to the millions whose lives have been forever changed due to their ambition for democracy and freedom.
Furthermore, US President Barack Obama’s words that Syrian President Assad could kill as many people as he wanted as long as he didn’t use chemical weapons surely provided the necessary balm since everyone knows that someone who dies from a chemical weapon is much deader than one who is killed by a bomb or bullet.
The Syrian people, as they bury ever increasing numbers of their fellow citizens, can rest assured, according to the global community, that once future innocents start dying from chemical weapons, the Assad regime will feel the full brunt of its impotent power and might.
The US Republican political establishment, led by Senator McCain, however, doesn’t want to wait until that happens and wants the armed forces to immediately intervene in this conflict. They are obviously setting aside the fact that the CIA likely continues to provide arms to the rebels since anything that can’t be discussed in the public media is simply not any good.
The problem is that Senator McCain doesn’t want any of this support to go to those elements in the rebellion that are anti-US – read Al-Qaida (AQ). Using the sense of entitlement that comes from being a long serving senator with decades-old history of military service and a general inaptitude for listening, McCain wants the Obama administration to differentiate between the rebels, give weapons only to the “good guys” and then track the weapons to make sure they don’t fall in the wrong hands in a war zone!
Consequently, since it will take decades for the US government to come up with something that will comply with these demands, it’s unlikely the rebels will get any non-covert support from the US.
However, this entire scenario will change if, as noted above, chemical weapons and therein lies the rub – and shades of Iraq. The Assad government will not use chemical weapons on a mass scale because they fear the reaction; on the other hand, the rebels want intervention and want chemical weapons to be used.
By the way, if Assad doesn’t use chemical weapons and the international community does formally intervene in Syria then the government will lose the only reason to not use these weapons and they will likely proliferate throughout the region. This will happen in the shadow of condemnation from a global community that can’t believe a government that its bombing is helping the community’s enemies.
US history in Iraq also plays a strong role here as, once again, rebels and exiles hold the key to Washington’s intervention in another Middle Eastern nation: The rebels know about the global community’s red-line and want support from the US and Europe so their cause will be helped if Assad uses, or is perceived to have used, chemical weapons.
Indeed, the fastest way to ensure this support is for the rebels to use their own chemical weapons and blame it on Assad.
The question is whether they would take such an action – one that could cause a number of innocent casualties?
As already noted, the opposition movement is composed of a number of disparate elements – including AQ – and any one group could use these weapons against their opposition, blame it on Assad and kill two birds with one stone (pun intended).
AQ’s weaponry, power and influence within the rebellion has risen mainly because, unlike western nations, Middle Eastern countries have strongly supported some of the more conservative elements within the rebellion.
While this has prevented the anti-Assad movement from collapsing, it also makes things exponentially more awkward for those who want to support the rebels as it’s unavoidable that some of their weapons will get to AQ.
This will further strengthen AQ, not to mention give more verbal ammunition for Senator McCain and that is a loss-loss for everyone.
It’s clear that if the US intervenes in Syria it will have to fight two battles: first against Assad and then against AQ once the government falls. The only logical solution then is to support Assad against AQ, use that influence to call for positive democratic change, limit Syria’s support for Hezbollah and counter Iran’s influence.
On the other hand, we are talking about the US government so anything that makes logical sense is unlikely to happen. Consequently, let’s get ready to formally begin “Iraq 2” and enter the Syrian conflict.
I would like to make one correction for the sake of accuracy. The idea of arming the Syrian Rebels is a contentious one on both sides of the isle. The Republican party in particular is split on the subject. McCain happens to be the most vocal advocate of the policy but he does not speak for the party.
The embrace of Democracy above all else is often a prelude to a devils dance of death. The prerequisite for self rule is respect the rights of others, something not all societies are capable of. Until a society reaches that point removal of one dictator is merely an open door to the next. And, only God knows if the next one will be worse or better.. In Syria this seems particularly true.
Very well said sir.