Paris Bombings or Not, the West Must End the War in Syria

Washington just wanted to get the chemical weapons out and protect Israel; it didn’t worry about a refugee crisis as a possible source of terror attacks.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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A woman pushes her baby stroller away from the site of Assad regime airstrikes in Damascus, Syria, August 12, 2015.
A woman pushes her baby stroller away from the site of Assad regime airstrikes in Damascus, Syria, August 12, 2015.Credit: Reuters
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

The shock expressed by world leaders over the attacks in Paris is expected to morph into a strategy-change for France and the world powers against the Islamic State.

French President Francois Hollande mentioned the attackers’ “act of war,” while U.S. President Barack Obama called the murders an attack on all humanity and convened the National Security Council.

At this point it’s unclear how this change will be seen on the ground — whether it will reach Syria and Iraq and if so at what intensity. Syria has become an international battlefield, with the war of interests there including Russia and Iran, which don’t exactly see eye to eye with the French, the Americans and other Western countries.

Any essential change, particularly militarily, requires coordination or a risk of a clash, so anyone who expects a quick and decisive change will be disappointed, and anyone counting on dramatic changes in Syria in the coming months should be patient.

On Thursday more than 40 civilians were killed and hundreds wounded in a cruel terror attack in a south Beirut neighborhood, the Hezbollah stronghold. The threshold of condemnation over that attack was much different, and no one was counting on the West to change its stance afterward.

The explosion of the Russian airliner over Sinai was considered very serious, but not so much that it would increase international intervention against the Islamic State. It was deemed a Russian-Egyptian affair.

The prevailing opinion is that there is no comparison between Beirut and Paris, certainly when the victims are in Beirut’s Shi’ite quarter, but surely the victims of the Russian airliner are equal to the Paris victims. Either way, in all three cases the victims were innocent civilians who had nothing to do with the war of international interests in Syria and its implications for the rest of the region and Europe.

If Beirut and Sinai weren’t enough, let’s not forget the disaster in Syria, where more than a quarter of a million people, mostly civilians, have been killed over the past five years.

The only thing that interested the United States was getting the chemical weapons out to ensure Israel’s security and let the Syrians massacre each other forever. Most European countries adopted this position without realizing the implications in terms of hundreds of thousands of refugees streaming toward Europe and terror attacks.

The attack in Paris is shocking and criminal by any standard, but French blood is no redder than that of the Lebanese civilians killed in Beirut, of the Russians killed in the plane bombing or of the Syrians massacred over the past five years whether by the Islamic State and its affiliates or the Assad regime.

If the French government wants to ensure quiet for its people and the rest of Europe and the United States, these countries’ policies must change completely. Leaders there must make clear decisions and seek an end to the Syrian war and a diplomatic agreement that will ensure Syrians’ welfare.

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