Syria: Decisions, Decisions…
by Gerald A. Honigman
There’s increasing talk these days about American and other Western military action aimed against the Assad regime in Syria. It appears the latter used some of its enormous stockpile of weapons of mass destruction (poison gas, that is–you know, what Iraq’s Saddam also had, used, murdered many folks with, transferred to Syria, and then others claimed that he had no WMD) against the wrong enemy–Arabs instead of the “Zionist entity.” Who knows what the world reaction would have been to the latter scenario these days? Of course, Syria, as it is known today, would probably cease to exist afterwards.
Analysts whom I respect are talking about doing this the “right way” and cutting off the head of the snake–targeting the Assads themselves.
Look, I don’t want to see any folks gassed–or killed in any other way either, as long as they’re not targeting others first.
But, the West has ignored the true forces of moderation in Syria–and millions do exist, like the Kurds, some more tolerant Sunnis, some Christians, and Druze, for example, who begged for support. Instead, Obama’s Washington, in particular, has been gravitating towards Muslim Brotherhood clones as long as they do not overtly wear al-Qaida headbands. Recall that the war began back in spring, 2011, and poorly equipped, moderate militias, like “Sheikh Omar’s” Ghurabaa al-Sham, were soon rendered incidental by the much better organized, funded, and equipped Islamist groups such as Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra,
Now, what I am going to state next may first sound a bit distasteful, but please think carefully about what I am saying.
Since the choice in Syria really comes down to supporting a murderous, totalitarian despotic regime or enabling the creation of yet another murderous, totalitarian, Muslim Brotherhood/al-Qaida-type state (which will undoubtedly be even less tolerant than that which it supplanted), my feelings are that the opponents should be allowed to continue to blow each other apart. The reality is that the Islamists will do what they need to in order to gain sympathy and power (as was done in Morsi’s Egypt and elsewhere), but will return to their true colors if they succeed. That, indeed, is part of Islamist teaching. Both sides use women and children as human shields–what Israel faces each time it has to go after the latter-day Arafatians of Fatah or other Islamists in Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
After both sides exhaust each other, perhaps there will then be a chance for the true forces of tolerance to make their move and actually gain some world support. And If it means Syria splitting into at least 3 parts–with an independent Kurdistan bordering Iraqi Kurdistan, etc., for example–then so be it.
There are about five million Arabized and non-Arabized Kurds in Syria. When representatives of the latter met with “moderate” Arab opposition forces in Washington a while back, they had just one favor to ask. The Kurds and some others wanted the post-Assad state to be known as the Republic of Syria–instead of the Syrian Arab Republic. They were virtually laughed out of the room. Unfortunately, that’s the dominant ruler and ruled mentality in the so-called “Arab” world–and it does not bode well for tolerance or Western-style democracy. It was typical, for example, for Kurdish children to be forced to use Arabic and adopt Arab culture in Syrian schools–etc. and so forth. On this same note, think about what is documented in Professor Ismet Cherif Vanly’s book just by glancing at its title–The Syrian ‘Mein Kampf’ Against The Kurds (Amsterdam, 1968).
As in Egypt, while there are some moderate forces in Syria, the best armed, organized, and most powerful are, once again, the Islamists who are funded and supplied by Arab oil potentates, Turks, and other like-minded folks. President Obama and the State Department seem to have an attraction for them as well. They will be the beneficiaries and successors to the Assads after we do unto the Alawis what we did unto the Serbs during President Clinton’s days and for other deceptive reasons of State. The reality back then was the same as it is now–atrocities were being committed by both sides and had been going on for centuries. The first Battle of Kosovo was in 1389–the Serbs trying to stop an earlier jihad, this one with Turks in the lead.
So, forgive me, but I disagree with Ambassador John Bolton, The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens (http://online.wsj.com/article/global_view.html), and others whom I’m frequently on the same page with. I’ve done extensive doctoral studies in Middle Eastern Affairs myself and have also been a keen observer of the region for decades.
I’m for doing nothing “explosive” right now, if you get my drift, with the possible exception of trying to better organize, develop, protect, supply, and work with the true forces of moderation in that country–something the State Department and our current President seem to have a problem with.
While I’m aware of some of the “complicating factors” involved in this (especially when the word “Kurd” is mentioned), other such complications do not seem to hinder President Obama’s and the State Department’s push for the creation of a destabilizing 22nd Arab state in the region–whether it turns out to be Fatahland or Hamastan, regardless of the consequences for a minuscule Israel.
Furthermore, what’s perhaps even more disturbing is that, after the dust settles, Washington would probably support the new Syrian Islamist regime in its attempt to squash the Kurds’ and others’ bids for some semblance of justice and freedom after the Assads’ exit.