29.08.2013 Author: Vitaly Naumkin

Syria: Difficult choices

syriaAt present we are witnessing an escalation of tension around the Syrian conflict, but Syria itself hasn’t got much to do with it. The Western powers don’t seem to care all that much about Syria and the fate of its people. The Syrian fate is of utmost importance to its regional neighbors who have to deal with the refugees flows. Those are Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. Iran is looking curiously in the direction of Syria but for a completely different reason.

But one thing is sure, Syria has become a target for cold blooded manipulations aimed at showing the World who is in charge. The revival of the Bush formula: “Shoot first, consult UN later” can do nobody any good. After his first electional success Barak Obama opposed this practice, but today yet once again NATO believes that it has an unilateral right to attack any country without consulting anyone. The only thing missing is an excuse, but the United States is using the same excuse it have devised to attack Iraq – weapons of mass destruction or WMD. After the military intervention in Iraq Pentagon failed to provide any evidence of WMDs being stored on the Iraqi soil. Yet the international agenda is not formulated properly since it’s not all about who has shot a nerve agent containing shell first. To discuss this matter we should wait for the results presented by the UN Commission that was sent to Syria to investigate this case. One cannot insist that it’s already too late, since they are going to present the facts all the same…

As for the possibilities of a US military intervention in Syria that could have started, according to certain news reports, today, one must ask himself what’s the use of missile bombardments if they’re not a secret anymore? What the United States can possibly achieve with these? Do they want to bomb the hell out of this country or to enhance even a more harsh civil war? First of all, an unilateral military aggression cannot be justified by the international law. No country in the world can make such a decision without consulting other parties. As we have recently learnt from media sources, certain European powers like Italy and Dania are not willing to take any part in this intervention without an UN approval.

If we are to believe Cameron the West doesn’t want to topple Assad. If the United States and its satellites are willing to lower the military might of the Syrian army, this will change the distribution of power in the militants favor. But in this case the Assad’s regime won’t go anywhere, all they are going to get is more fighting, more violence, more blood.

Yet it’s a mystery why would the Western elite share a banner with the jihadist forces that assume that the United States and Israel are their archenemies. And Israel, by the way, remains silent in the Syrian crisis. But why would Washington want to support groups like Jabat Al Nusra that have promised to extinguish alawites by villages. Do they really want to invest their money and their trust in such barbarians?

If the United States have a different aim, say they want to destroy all the chemical charges of the Syrian army. Even if they knew for sure where this charges were stored how are they going to destroy them? If they are to bomb them,  the number of casualties among the civilian will overshadow the casualties of the attacks that Assad is blamed for. Some experts believe that one has to use the so-called mini nukes to get rid of the chemical charges without a gas attack in the aftermath. But how can you possibly use a mini nuke in a populated area? The Western powers claim that the only targets they are willing to attack are the military headquarters, centers of command, but there’s always some civilians nearby.

I believe that the military intervention in Syria is going to be one of the most crucial mistake of the United States. This claim is supported by the numerous observers that have voiced their concerns over the present situation over and over again. But the officers in the United State say that there’s no good or bad in a civil war, there’s only winners. If they want the rebels to be the winners there’s gonna be a hell to pay. If they are willing to destroy the country, well any country can be destroy and the Unites States is not an exception. But is the destruction is a higher purpose, why would anyone intervene in an internal conflict where everyone’s to blame?

The civil war in Syria is a harsh and brutal war but these are the attributes of such wars. We in Russia have undergone a civil war as well and we know that there’s no telling who’s right and who’s wrong in this type of conflicts. There were some really violent groups that operated in Siberia where my ancestors lived at the time of the Russian civil war. One of these group was led by Alexander Kolchak who’s remaints have been recently reburied with all the due military honors. For some of us Kolchak is a hero, for others he’s a felon. The American civil war has taken a lot of lives, and still there are debates who were the heroes of this war. All this is true in the Syrian conflict, but no matter who appeals to you, you cannot use uncontrolled violence to help them win.

I believe that the position taken by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the most balanced approach towards this question. We should wait for the results of the investigation, share information, discuss these matter on the international level, settling the crisis within the jurisdiction of the bodies that are empowered with all the corresponding credentials. The UN Security Council is the safest bet in this situation. I’m assured that the military intervention is the last resort, despite the fact that a number of the regional forces can’t wait to see the Assad’s regime fall. Their voices affect the West in its decision making process, but I believe that the former ones have grown to obsessed with the idea of “settling the matter quick”. But some powers, like Turkey for instance are not prepared to provide its territory for the U.S. Armed Forces in the capacity of a launching pad, if the intervention is really inevitable. So they will have to operate from their carriers.

Professor Vitaly Naumkin, history Ph.D, correspondent member of the RAS, Director for the Institute of Oriental Studies, member of the Russian International Affairs Council, exclusively for New Eastern Outlook.


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