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Syria on verge of civil war

What started as an extension of the Arab Spring is pushing Syria to the verge of civil war. Bashar Al-Assad must stop deluding himself by blaming the frustration of the Syrian people on a foreign conspiracy. Indulging in such self-denial is what could eventually justify outside intervention.

In addition, the reckless attempts by some in the opposition to turn civil protests into an armed insurgency have played into the hands of the Syrian dictator. In an open military conflict, using disproportionate force, Assad has proven to be true to his father’s brutal legacy.


Syria’s best trained and supplied army units led by Assad’s family members have been instrumental in “Big Brother” maintaining internal dominance. After 14 months, however, it has become more apparent that brutality alone is not enough to silence Syrian voices demanding genuine change. Likewise, the armed opposition is incapable of deposing the Assad regime.

The Syrian opposition should look at what happened in Libya. Until direct NATO intervention, the armed rebellion failed to topple the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. NATO’s involvement brought both wanton destruction and lucrative business deals for Western companies eager to rebuild what their governments had helped to destroy.

Arming the opposition means splitting Syria between two entrenched, diametrically opposed military camps and paves the way for an unwinnable war with divisions along sectarian and ethnic lines. Naturally, and to preserve their gains, each side is likely to compromise national interest by seeking foreign support.

Outside players with conflicting interests are vying to support one side or the other. Iran’s indifference towards the people of Syria has led it to support the regime. Israel, though, has a vested interest in prolonging the conflict to drain Syria, irrespective of the outcome. To accomplish this, Israel has enlisted the US to do its work.

In a June 15 article, after a visit to Tel Aviv, America’s leading Zio-Con Elliot Abrams refers to discussions with Israeli officials pressing for US involvement: “No country in the world roots with more energy than Israel for American success and American power. So when we refuse to use it, they shake their heads and wonder why… What is Washington thinking?” he wrote.

The fact is that Israel “roots” not “for American success”, but for the pro-Israel lobby to be able to hoodwink gullible US politicians to fight its wars, as they did in Iraq and are preparing to do in Iran.

If dragged by Israel into another Middle Eastern conflict, the US looks well-disposed to become a willing military agent executing Israeli strategic policies in the region.

US politicians must heed warnings by top American military analysts that a Syrian venture would not be a jaunt, but a long commitment in the quagmire of an emerging civil war.

Following Tuesday’s Group of 20 Summit in Mexico, there is a ray of hope that America and Russia are working jointly on a zero-sum gain resolution to end the Syrian crisis.

Assad and the opposition must seize the opportunity. He needs to understand that Syria is more important than his desire to maintain an inherited dictatorship; and the opposition must accept that the country is superior to their vindictive ambitions.

Mr Kanj writes frequently on Arab issues and is the author of Children of Catastrophe, Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. His e-mail address is jkanj@yahoo.com. This article was first published by Gulf daily News Newspaper.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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