Two years on since the uprising against the mainly Alawite military dictatorship, who brutally tried to suppress protests for democratic reform, the consensus now is something must be done about Syria.
The problem now is reaching a consensus on what should be done.
No pressure, only 93,000 people have been killed to get this far, with the tipping point being 150 people killed by the use of chemical weapons for President Obama. Secretary of State John Kerry wants to air strike Syria now, while Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Dempsey makes the case for an entrance and exit strategy first – not to mention hundreds of sorties to reduce the capabilities of Syria to retaliate.
The commander-in-chief informs us however that the Syrian Air defence system is not that good. I hoped that with the election behind him, Obama would be more robust. It has taken a long time coming. Air strikes and cruise missiles would bring tremendous and immediate relief to the Syrian Free Army under Colonel Reyad Musa Al Asaad.
Instead gun running is what is on offer. Covert operations, time to set up, no guarantee whether it would reach the Syrian Free Army or instead those revolutionaries who have publicly executed a 15 year old coffee shop assistant for making a joke that he would, no offence, not even give the Prophet credit for a brew.
We have waited two years to act, and into the bloody civil war Islamic Jihadists have come from far and wide, Hezbollah are on the scene, and Sunni Shiite international politics have set in and hardened. No intervention in Syria? Everyone else has been intervening.
By the G8 leaving it so late to intervene, those that never wanted an intervention in the first place are saying it is now even more difficult. Interventionists warned the body count was going to get worse, the conflict would be another battlefield to train and radicalise people to political jihad. That chemical weapons would be unsecured, and in a bloody civil conflict where both sides fear extermination by the other effective chain of command, let alone respect for the Geneva Convention, would deteriorate.
Those that want the United Nations involved forget the vetos of China, never keen on internal affairs being intervened with even if for humanitarian reasons, and Russia the official arms supplier to Assad and strategically linked to his regime.
In a previous article I suggested this immediate action before air/cruise missile strikes.
Tell the international community to have a no fly zone to prevent attacks on refugee camps and safeguard humanitarian aid routes and safe havens – see above link. Think Kosovo.
Use diplomatic efforts for this and to help with negotiations on the ground to resolve civil war or the international community will take further steps.
Set targets, clear goals, redlines, consequences and stick to them.
With this in place, as quickly as possible, an international conference may be more likely to bear fruit. It would show international efforts were serious, and were being done for humanitarian reasons. The next stage (if we are not there already) with no cease fire reached at this conference would be strikes on Assad’s capability to launch further chemical attacks and air sorties. Assets should be put in place for such a response now before the conference. Diplomacy is only as good as the stick you are prepared to wield.
The Syrian Free Army have signed numerous undertakings in support of a peaceful transition. If Assad offered to move, then they would have to stand down. Assurances and guarantees would have to be in place to prevent reprisals and a return to bloodshed. Assad’s future could be a sticking point, but his future is very much retirement.
This may give a chance for a negotiated peace. We either seize it now or take the risk of what Dempsey fears will happen with our involvement; a slippery slope by events on the ground with no exit in sight as a proxy between foreign powers wages on.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog