For almost two years, Barack Obama has avoided a direct military intervention in the civil war in Syria, though his administration has steadily increased comprehensive support to the disparate Syrian rebels, calling NATO partners to do the same. Under the pretext of the Syrian government forces’ unproven use of chemical weapons, the U.S. president said that Assad had crossed the “red line”and it is now time for a military solution to put an end to these “actions against the people” because of the alleged use by the current government of “chemical weapons.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney announced a week ago that taking into account the chemical weapons factor, the United States “almost has no choice but to use missiles against Syrian forces on a limited scale.”
Syria’s neighbours have already started preparing for the worst case scenario – potential air strikes by the United States and their accomplices, and this severe threat is hanging over an already nervous Middle East. As CNN reported, correspondents from different information agencies and, above all, Western agencies, have examined the possible reaction of the bordering states to the military attack on Syria.
For example, in Lebanon, the capital of which is less than 70 miles from Damascus, there is growing concern that the Lebanese population could suffer from the military strikes. Many people in that country believe that the U.S. actions are destabilizing Lebanon itself and, excepting Syria, Lebanon will suffer most of all.
As reported by CNN, Talal Arsian, leader of the Lebanese Democratic Party, which supports Assad, announced that the accusation of the use of chemical weapons by the regime in Damascus “only confirms previous dishonesty of the Americans, who invaded Iraq under false pretences. Today, nobody will buy this slander.”
Lebanese parliament member Walid Jumblatt – a steadfast ally of the Syrian rebels – told CNN that “military action of Americans will not be fatal to the Syrian regime while there is a lack of international support for these actions.”
Another anti-Assad Lebanese member of parliament, Ahmad Fatlat, said that the “response to these events by the Hezbollah organization, which backs the government forces and is abetted by Damascus and Tehran, should cause the most concern.”
Thousands of frightened Israelis have rushed to gas mask distribution centres, fearing that military strikes on Damascus “could provoke the Syrian government to use chemical weapons, which would harm the civilian population of Israel.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has officially declared that “the country is ready to follow through with any scenario and respond by force if Israel is attacked by Syria.”
In Amman (Jordan), located an hour’s drive from the Syrian border, there are fears that involvement in the civil war “could lead to attacks on Jordanian territory.” It is known that the King of Jordan and many of his compatriots are in favour of Assad’s overthrow, as their sympathies lie with the Syrian opposition seeking to topple the Alawite regime. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia, an outspoken opponent of Assad, uses Jordanian territory for the transfer of weapons to Syrian rebels.
Iraq, which saw the arrival of 30,000 Syrian refugees at the end of August this year, is alarmed by the possible U.S. military intervention. The government opposes the military action organized by Washington. Iraqi leaders are convinced that the “Islamist Sunnis who oppose Assad have an ultimate goal of seeing the overthrow of the Shiite government in Baghdad.” Regional observers reported Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as saying the following: “What is happening in Syria is a great threat to Iraq and the region. I call on all people, especially politicians, to unite against the growing threat from the West, to overcome the religious differences between Sunnis and Shiites and preserve national unity and sovereignty.”
Egypt, concerned about its own complicated problems, has decided to act in support of Syria if the West decides to overthrow the Assad government. It is interesting to note that this is the position of both the supporters of the ousted president M. Morsi, and the new rulers of this country. In particular, representatives of the Tamarod movement indicated that in the case of Western military intervention in Syrian affairs, they will not remain indifferent. One of the leaders of the Tamarod, Mahmoud Badr, told the CNN’s American correspondent: “For us Arabs, the United States is an imperialist government that destroyed Iraq and wants to do the same with Syria and intervene in the affairs of Egypt.”
According to Egypt’s state-owned news agency, a representative of the Egyptian government “demanded the closure of the Suez Canal if attempts are made by the United States and its allies to move through the channel in the direction of Syria.”
Yemeni authorities also do not support a military solution to the Syrian problem. One of the leaders of Yemen’s Haq party, Ahmed Bahri, told regional news agencies that foreign intervention in Syria would only destabilize Yemen and other Arab states. “Arabs no longer believe the United States, but some Arab leaders are acting against the will of their people.” A young Yemeni activist Nasser al-Absi told a Western journalist: “The U.S. military operation against Syria will lead to another generation of terrorists in the region.”
Local newspapers published an interview with a Yemeni politician who wished to remain anonymous. He specifically said that the Arabs should solve their own problems. “The United States is interfering in the affairs of other countries in order to solve its own problems – it should not carry out a military attack on Syria. Photographs of killed children, published by the Western media, evoke terror, but no missiles will save them now … almost all Arabs are “sick and tired” of Americans, Obama with his current actions has shown that he is not worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize.”
The Arab League has taken a half-hearted and ambiguous position on the issue, as on the one hand, as mentioned above, among its ranks not everyone wants a military resolution to the situation in Syria. And on the other hand Qatar and Saudi Arabia’s financial bribery is working hard to persuade individual members of the organization to support Washington’s aggression.
The recent announcement on Syria by Russian President Vladimir Putin against U.S. attempts to use missiles against the country shows Russia’s determination to prevent a potential disaster in the Middle East. But the U.S. and its accomplices in the region are visibly becoming hasteful – Israel, under the pretext of military exercises, has begun to fire missiles in the direction of Syria.
Judging by the mood in the U.S. Congress, it may approve the decision to attack Syria at its meeting on Sept. 9, though formally officials of the Obama administration say that they “can strike at Damascus right now.” But in that case, the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg will not take place, and this may mean that the “Cold War” will once again be knocking on the door and it may destabilize the situation in the world, which the majority of the countries of the world are against.
But the more we hear from the White House about the possible threat of military aggression, the wider the growing wave of anti-Americanism. And not only in the Arab region, but from far beyond!
Valery Maleyev is an expert orientalist. Exclusively for the New Eastern Outlook online magazine