Why the United States is not coming to Syria's rescue
Since the onset of the Arab Spring revolutions of 2011, the survival of some of the old regimes in the Middle East has come into question. The nation of Syria was no exception, in a way the country has come to define the blow back of the Arab Spring itself. The regime of Bashar Al-Assad has made it clear that it will not surrender power peacefully.
The Assad regime has been in place since 1971 when Bashar Al-Assad’s father (Hafez Al-Assad) became President of Syria under the leadership of the Ba’ath Party. When Hafez died in 2000, his son Bashar succeeded him as President and leader of the Ba’ath Party. Bashar Al-Assad managed to rule Syria comfortably for over a decade, with military and financial aid from nations like Russia, China, and Iran.
Almost overnight in 2011, with the outbreak of protests in Tunisia and Egypt, up pops the Arab Spring. Once the old dictatorships in these countries crumbled, protests spread to Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria. Syria’s situation became very similar to Libya. However, unlike in Libya, the International Community does not seem poised to intervene on behalf of the Syrian people, or at least the United States doesn’t.
Now more than ever, an international outcry is emerging for the United States to consider harsher actions in Syria, potentially another intervention. Don’t hold your breath though, the United States and its allies are probably not coming to the rescue. Here’s why.
The United States and President Barack Obama were eager and ready to declare full support for intervention in Libya when it was clear Moammar Ghadafi was willing to slaughter his people to maintain power. Indeed the United States and NATO intervened swiftly, with UN support, with firepower to aid the Libya revolutionaries against Ghadafi’s regime. So, why is the United States and its allies not willing to intervene to stop the Assad regime’s atrocities?
Granted, the conflict in Syria is complicated and many questions are left unanswered on both sides. Bashar Al-Assad was the antagonist of the civil war in Syria. The protests against him were peaceful, much like in Libya. Assad responded with bloody force, and his forces shot down anyone who protested against the regime. Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria in 2011, the UN has estimated that roughly 70,000 people have lost their lives in the country.
The conflict shifts between the FSA (Free Syrian Army) and the Syrian Military, and random hit-and-run insurgent attacks.. The Syrian Military also conducts airstrikes on open targets (including towns and cities). It’s now speculated that Assad’s Military is now using chemical weapons against its opponents, a clear violation of international law if the speculation turns out to be true.
The reason the United States is not taking a harsher stance against the regime in Syria is not very complicated when described. The reason the United States is not going for the military option against Assad is because of Israel. Bashar Assad and his regime in Syria have not been allies of Israel per se, but Assad has not been personally antagonistic to Israel either.
Assad has been a pragmatic player in Syria who desires only to maintain his own regime, no matter who he plays ball with. Israel fears that if Assad is toppled, a more extremist government may come into power, one which becomes more hostile to Israel than Assad.
While the main resistance of Assad remains the fairly secular FSA, many rebel groups associated with them are Islamist and some even associated with Al-Qaeda. Although Al-Qaeda also had affiliates in Libya, they haven’t taken power there.
Obama lay down a “red line” for the use of chemical weapons. If the line is crossed, Obama claims there will be dire consequences for the Assad Regime, but Assad, it seems may have already used these weapons. Is Obama beating the war drum? Not really.
Israel desires to keep Assad rather than some other regime which may come into power and threaten the Jewish State. It seems democracy is not as important for Syria as it was for Libya. If you’re one of those people who wants to see decisive action, don’t hold your breath, the American cavalry is not coming to the rescue.