I remember as if it was yesterday the summer of 2002, when I discovered myself by the virtue of fate to be a journalist for one of the Russia’s major information agencies – RIA in Iraq. The big picture that is taking place today around the Syrian conflict has a striking resemblance to the events that occurred 11 years ago in a different country. The media did its best to portray the Iraqi elite to be ruthless nuclear aggressors. The Iraqi authorities received different commissions on a weekly basis in order to prove that they were not developing anything even remotely as dangerous as a nuclear charge. They did manage to obey a long list of restrictions and regulations just to evade the inevitable – a military intervention.
There’s no telling anybody how well did this story end for them, even though there were no clues of the prohibited uranium enrichment activities anywhere to be found. But what could have possibly been done about it ten years after the intervention that has torn this country apart.
The scars are running deep on the Iraqi soil. The last 24 hours took 48 Iraqi lives after a series of suicide bombings and assaults that swept across the country. The death toll is running towards the 3.5 thousand people mark murdered in Iraq this year alone. Iraq is snapped back to the grim days of 2006-2007, when in the midst of the allied invasion people died by thousands. As they do today…
The Arab world is paying a handsome price for the newly acquired “democratic values” brought from afar. And the price for those is measured in blood of the Arab people, no more, no less. The outcomes of a forced regime change are numerous: a hault to any economic developments for decades, spreading violence and chaos, and finally – the invasion of Islamist militants.
Today an official excuse for attacking Syria is the hysteria about the chemical weapons that were allegedly used by the regularly military forces against the rebels and, moreover, the civilians. There’s no hard evidence to back these claims up, but there’s really little sense in providing those, since the United States seem to know better.
The Syrian officials allowed the UN commission to investigate these dreadful chemical attacks, which demonstrated the President Assad’s good will. Moreover, the commission was presented with a report that showed the evidences of the rebel chemical warehouse operating in the outskirts of Damascus.
Blow after blow the blames are showering on the heads of the Syrian officials, despite the fact that all disinterested sides recognize that the Assad regime would hardly ever resort to chemical weapons in this conflict.
It’s noteworthy that since the very beginning of the Syrian conflict which started around two and a half years ago the governmental forces have been accused a countless number of times for being responsible for the mass murder episodes across the country, none of which have ever been proven true. The independent observers have voiced these facts over and over again.
At the same time the suicide bomber attacks which the Islamist rebels are particularly fond of, leave nothing behind itself except for the defaced urban landscapes and piles of the deformed human bodies, leave the Western politics and media vaguely uninterested.
Some military professionals believe that claims of the actual combat usage of chemical weapons in a modern city warfare may be called idiotic. At the point blank ranges there’s a strong probability that a landscape peculiarity or a weather change can brought more damage to the friendly troops than the enemy ones.
Moreover such a step for Assad regime is equivalent to political suicide. That will make all of the Assad’s supporters abroad, however scanty they may be, to turn back on him, leaving the doors for a peaceful settlement of this conflict shut.
Any direct military intervention against Syrian is up to no good, since it can lead to the uncontrolled chain of events that can destabilize the Middle East. Against a background of the recent developments in Egypt, where the shock of the hundreds of citizens dying in the clashes governs the minds, against the thriving terrorism in Iraq, against the widening gap between the opposition and the Islamists in Tunisia, against a destabilization tendencies in Libya, which has become the main stash of the illegal weapons flows, Syria seems better off alive than dead. Attempts to settle the conflict by implementing more force reminds a misfortunate firefighter that tries to extinguish a fire with gasoline…
Yuri Zinin, senior researcher at MGIMO, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.