Syria and the Prospects of an American Intervention

The obsession with Western support is the most important factor that explains the weakness of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC). For any ‘National Liberation Movement’ against a foreign invader or a brutal dictator to succeed, it must be united around a general principle that connects it with the constituency that it claims to represent. However, when this national movement busies itself with useless pandering to foreign leaders who view their interests, or the interests of their nations as paramount over any moral or humanitarian consideration, the movement is doomed to failure.

Since the beginning of the Syrian revolution, the SNC saw that the best way to achieve its purported objective is to forge international coalitions with the United State and Europe. Various statements by the SNC’s leaders demand that the United States take a “leadership role” in ending the Syrian crisis.

The leader of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Salim Idris, 
does not spare an opportunity to meet with Senators and public officials in Washington, and his English interviews where he demands that the US arm his brigades with heavy and quality weapons can be easily found. From his perspective, the allegations that such weapons can fall into the hands of Al-Qaeda affiliated groups is unfounded, and precautions to prevent such an event can be efficiently taken.

Dark History of American Intervention:

Surely any support from the United States is more than welcomed if we were to forget the dark history of American and CIA interventions around the world. From Laos to Vietnam in Indochina, from Nicaragua to Cuba in Latin America, and from Palestine to Iraq in the Arab world, American interventions in the internal strife of these peoples have caused nothing but the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians.

The Vietnamese will never forget the American jets that hovered over their vast fields dropping agent Orange causing the immediate death of over 400,000 civilians, the maiming and blinding of over 500,000, and the physical disability of future generations who were not even born when the poisonous chemical showered their parents and grandparents.

The Iraqis, Yemenis and Afghans will never forget the missiles and the drone attacks that destroyed their houses, rendered their fields and the main source of their livelihood uncultivable, and killed their beloved ones in the name of fighting terror. And the Palestinians will never forget the American-made White Phosphorus bombs that burned their skins, melted their eyes and deprived them from their limbs.

A divine revelation is not needed to reach the logical conclusion that when the United State decides to intervene militarily in any conflict, be it a civil strife, a regional dispute or an international war, they do so only when it serves their interests - in other words, American national interest takes precedent over any humanitarian consideration.

What I have mentioned above is not a matter of intellectual pontification; these are facts documented in history books, narrated by victims of American aggression, passed on from one generation to another, and is now witnessed by the mere day-to-day observation of American operations in Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and other places in the world.

Delusional Ambitions:

The next few months are going to witness a new stage in the Syrian crisis. Following the alleged chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus; political pundits, policy makers, lobbyists and activists have been demanding more from the United State and its allies.

The demand is very clear: now that chemical weapons have been used against civilians, President Obama must act upon his promise that the United States will take action in case the “red line” is crossed - the red line being “when we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.”

The Syrian opposition did not waste any time before sending its leader, Ahmad Al-Jarba, on a mission to garner international support for at least a no-fly zone. According to the UK-based newspaper Elaph, Al-Jarba received a call from the US Secretary of State John Kerry who delivered his condolences for the chemical attack that Damascus sustained two days ago.

Al-Jarba also phoned the UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon and urged him to expedite the UN mission to investigate the chemical attack which, according to the report, claimed the lives of 1600 people (a seemingly exaggerated figure that has not been verified yet).

His mission included discussions with the UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayid Al Nahyan, the Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid Bin Muhammad El-Attiyyah, and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

The general direction of these discussions is something that Syrians should be concerned about. Are the demands put forth by Al-Jarba and the SNC representative of the Syrian people? Or are they nothing more than another chess move in a large game whose main players are the United State of America and the Russian Federation?

The Drums of War:

According to a report by the Institute for the Study of War, there are 27 Syrian airbases; 18 of which are still under the control of the regime, 4 are under rebel control, and 5 are either under siege or contested (which means they are not available for the regime’s use). The institute estimates that only 6 out of the 18 airbases are fully utilized by the regime, while the remaining 12 are currently not being used to their full capacity, but have enough materials and weapons to be activated for possible use.

The same report explains that in order to neutralize these bases, the US would need to utilize three US navy surface combatant vessels, and 24 total US Navy and US Air Force aircraft. These vessels and aircraft can launch the following Precision Guided Projectiles (PGM): Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM), Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) and Joint Stand Off Weapon (JSOW).

Another report by the same institute claims that if the US is interested in neutralizing chemical factories under regime control, an aerial attack would not suffice, nor would the requested no-fly zone. A successful no-fly zone might achieve the objective of grounding Syrian airbases; however, it will not prevent the delivery of chemical munitions via artillery, and an aerial bombardment will result in collateral damage and civilian death.

According to the Guardian, US Defence Secretary, Chuck Hagel, indicated during his trip to Malaysia that US troops are positioning their naval forces in the Mediterranean in anticipation of Obama’s decision to order a strike against Syria. According to Hagel, the commander of the Sixth Fleet has decided to keep the USS Mahan in the Mediterranean.

The USS Mahan

The USS Mahan was commissioned to be part of Operation Unified Protector (a NATO mission to enforce UN resolutions 1970 and 1973 on the Libyan civil war). Instead of returning to its base in Norfolk, Virginia, the USS Mahan is on its way to patrol the Eastern Mediterranean.

Syria’s Gloomy Future:

The Syrians are trapped between a rock and a hard place. Close to two million refugees are currently suffering from dismal conditions in refugee camps hosted by Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq; with Jordan sustaining the majority of the refugees. Millions remain in Syria as internally displaced persons (IDP) with no access to services, no assistance from foreign agencies and no protection from the regime or the rebels. The economy has collapsed beyond recovery, and the price of oil and basic services have increased to unprecedented levels.

Syrian youth, unemployed, dispossessed, displaced, and disillusioned must decide whether they want to support a weakened regime and a failed state that has no prospects of ensuring future economic and political sustainably, or an unreliable and divided opposition that does not have a clear vision or objective, and is either busy with forging relations with the West, or conducting Al-Qaeda style attacks and executions around the country.

Salafi motivated aggression is on the rise. Videos of AK-47 wielding men can be easily found on YouTube where executions and amputations of armless civilians are done publicly under the banner of waging Jihad against an infidel president and his shabiha (Syrian word for thugs).

Chemical weapons are moving and being utilized by both regime forces and groups affiliated with Harakat Ahrar El-Sham El-Islamiyyah (HASI). Reports, unverified videos and sound recordings indicate that such weapons were used in Homs, Aleppo, Idlib and many other locations by both sides of the conflict.

Violence is spilling into Lebanon. The past three months witnessed three bloody attacks by unknown groups; two in Beirut and one in Tripoli. Sectarian strife is on the rise in the Lebanese coastal city of Saidon where militants who support the renowned Sunni Imam Ahmad El-Asir are mounting sporadic attacks against Shia’ targets. Hezbollah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah have increased their rhetoric and affirmed their previous promise that they will continue engaging rebel groups in Qusayr and other Syrian cities.

The prospects of a peaceful settlement is becoming more elusive. More involvement by the United State through the deployment of ground troops or merely the enforcement of a no-fly zone is going to force Iran and Russia to increase their support of Assad and Hezbollah. The gulf countries, lead by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, will continue to increase the wedge between the Shia’ and the Sunni to ensure the eradication of the slightest chance of a national reconciliation between the warring parties.

As pessimistic as this will sound, it is my opinion that the Syrian civil war is going to be the most deadly crisis to face humanity in the 21st century. This is only the beginning.


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