Random posts on all sorts of things designed to inform and provoke.
One of the arguments being made by the US administration for intervention in Syria is that it will protect US allies and Syrian neighbors from Damascus and its dangerous agenda. However, its unclear how the bombing plan being proposed by Washington would achieve this aim. In fact, what is obvious – and the topic of today’s post – is how this action will increase the danger to Syria and further raise instability within that country.
By the way, this is the first of a series of posts that will focus on how the proposed bombing campaign will affect Syria’s neighbors and the United States’ influence in those countries.
Jordan is a longtime US ally, the recipient of its financial and defense generosity and a bulwark against the anti-American fervor rampant in the Middle East. Jordanian King Abdullah, like his late father, has been advocating for a moderate US policy in his region on the one hand, and attempting to shore up a faltering economy and respond to Arab Spring protests on the other. Consequently, the man’s government has its hands full of issues and the last thing it needed was for the uprising in neighboring Syria to spillover its borders.
Unfortunately, that is what has happened as Amman has found itself responsible for around half a million refugees whose presence has raised security concerns, hurt an already weak economy, overwhelmed an inadequate infrastructure and upended the country’s social structure.
(According to multiple reports, other countries sheltering the refugees include Lebanon with 700,000 Syrians, Turkey with 460,000 refugees, Egypt with 110,000 and Iraq with over 168,000.)
King Abdullah, obviously, wants the Syrians to go back to their country, particularly since he hasn’t received receiving half as many funds as his government needs to take care of these new arrivals. Therefore, any action that will achieve that goal (or improve the region’s security instability) will be welcomed by Amman.
The proposed US bombing action, however, is not that action, and there are number of reasons why that is the case.
First, it’s a limited action – at the most 90 days – that is designed to send Assad behind the, according to Nancy Pelosi, “civilization’s red line.” This means that it will neither remove the current Syrian government from power nor ensure a process for a transition.
What it will do, however, is increase instability in Syria and cause more of that country’s residents to flee into Jordan forcing a country that is already reeling under the weight of a population rise that it cannot manage to buckle down and, somehow, learn to take care of more people.
This will obviously affect all nations hosting the refugees and if the US government has a multinational plan to prevent or manage such an exodus then they sure haven’t shared that with the American people.
The second reason is that if Washington wants to eventually remove Assad, it will have to increase its support for the “good rebels” beyond current levels. That will involve training, material and transportation, and most of that will happen in either Jordan or other Gulf nations (Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for example).
This will make Abdullah’s country a target, not just of the Assad government but also of those rebels who oppose their colleagues who will be supported by the United States. Obviously, this will degrade the security conditions and further hurt Jordan … unless the US plans to increase its military presence there (since Congress’ plan forbids such action in Syria) but that doesn’t seem like it will happen.
So, let’s recap: A limited US bombing action raises the number of unfunded refugees in a country that is already overloaded with them, deteriorates the security conditions without a plan to provide any support to protect its citizens, further hurts an economy without any increase in aid funds and makes it a target of the neighboring government and fundamentalist rebels.
Oh, and once this happens, US popularity in Jordan will decline from its current high levels thus hurting an allied government that is already fighting against calls for more democracy.
All this for a bombing campaign that is limited and not designed to change Syria’s current government.