Tuesday, August 21, 2012
The Syrian Mess
Stay Out of Syria: Intervention Is a Trap -Daniel Pipes, PhD
As Syria's civil war intensifies, Western states are increasingly helping the rebels overthrow Assad and his henchmen. In doing so, the West hopes to save lives and facilitate a democratic transition. Many Western voices call for more than the non-lethal aid now being offered, wanting to arm the rebels, set up safe zones, and even join their war against the government.
Helping the rebels, however, neglects a fundamental question: does intervention in Syria against Assad promote our own interests? This obvious question gets missed because many Westerners feel so confident about their own well-being that they forget their security and instead focus on the concerns of those they perceive as weak and exploited...
For those of us not so confident, however, fending off threats to our security and our civilization remains a top priority. In this light, helping the rebels entails multiple drawbacks for the West.
[T]he rebels are Islamist and intend to build an ideological government even more hostile to the West than Assad's. Their breaking relations with Tehran will be balanced by their helping to forward the barbaric force of Islamism's Sunni forces.
Syria's rebels do not need Western help to bring down the regime (and wouldn't be grateful for it if they did receive it, if Iraq is any guide).
[T]he Assad regime is doomed. Assad cannot subdue the ever-widening rebellion against his rule; indeed, the more his troops butcher and maim, the more defections occur and his support shrinks to its Alawi core.
[H]astening the Assad regime's collapse will not save lives. It will mark not the end of the conflict, but merely the close of its opening chapter with yet worse violence likely to follow. As Sunnis finally avenge their nearly fifty years of subjugation by Alawis, a victory by the rebels portends potential genocide. The Syrian conflict will likely get so extreme and violent that Westerners will be glad to have kept a distance from both sides.
Also, as Sunni Islamists fight Shiite Islamists, both sides are weakened and their lethal rivalry lessens their capabilities to trouble the outside world. By inspiring restive minorities (Sunnis in Iran, Kurds and Shiites in Turkey), continued fighting in Syria could also weaken Islamist governments.
When the regime falls, the Alawi leadership, with or without Assad, might retreat to ancestral redoubts in Latakia province in northwestern Syria; the Iranians could well supply it by sea with money and arms, permitting it to hold out for years, further exacerbating the confrontation between Sunni and Shiite Islamists, further distracting them from assaulting others.
The one exception to the policy of non-intervention would be to secure Syria's vast chemical weapon arsenal, both to prevent terrorist groups seizing it and Assad from deploying it...
Nothing in the constitutions of Western states requires them to get involved in every foreign conflict; sitting this one out will prove to be a smart move. In addition to the moral benefit of not being accountable for horrors yet to come, staying away permits the West eventually to help its only true friends in Syria, the country's liberals.
[The Washington Times]
Obama Threatens Force in Syria over Chemical Weapons -Mark Landler
President Obama warned Syria that it would face American military intervention if there were signs that its arsenal of unconventional weapons was being moved or prepared for use. The warning brings Mr. Obama a step closer to direct American engagement.
The specter of unconventional weapons being loosed in the heart of the Arab world, he said, would upend his calculation that military intervention would only worsen the situation. "We cannot have a situation in which chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people," he said.
(New York Times)