Intervention in Syria Can Only Invite Trouble and Guilty Consciences

Syria is being pulled in every which direction and the most outside forces can do is replace the tormenter-in-chief.

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
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U.S. airstrike on a jihadist target in Syria, September 23, 2014.
U.S. airstrike on a jihadist target in Syria, September 23, 2014.Credit: AP
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

All the signs indicate the Americans are dragging their feet. After all, if they really wanted to intervene in the Syrian civil war, they wouldn’t need evidence. In 2003, when they wanted to break up Iraq and take control of its oil they made sure to fabricate evidence of weapons of mass destruction, even at the price of damaging the reputation of America's black hope: then Secretary of State Colin Powell.

This time around, what will they intervene for? Syria has no oil and it is already destroyed and fragmented. The work is being done for them by Syrian President Bashar Assad himself, the keeper of the eternal Arab flame, who is supported by Russia, Iran and China. It’s also being done by the other side in the conflict, by the Syrian opposition group Jabhat Al-Nusra, which is linked to Al-Qaida, and is supported by two the American bases in the region: Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The world powers, via their proxies, have finally decided to smash this wretched country into bits. And if Saudi Arabia and Qatar do the work for them, why should the boss intervene?

So before the dust settles and covers the evidence, it is important to note that except for the Syrian opposition, no one is excited about an American attack, not even the Americans themselves. And if things go Obama’s way, then a year from now, junior high students in Brooklyn will be asked to vote on what the targets of the attack should be. Also in Israel, Syria’s democratic neighbor to the south, the approach is much the same. New York Times correspondent Jodi Rudoren reports: "More quietly, Israelis have increasingly argued that the best outcome for Syria’s two-and-a-half-year-old civil war, at least for the moment, is no outcome." Whereas Alon Pinkas, Israel’s former consul general in New York, told Rudoren: “Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.” This is the translation for the local saying "a close neighbor is better than a far away brother."

On the other hand, the forces of progress in the world are horrified by the reports of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime, as if it were Mahatma Ghandi we were talking about and not Bashar Assad. At the same time, these same forces are furious with the Syrian opposition because of its support for American intervention against the Assad regime. The Arabs say, "Someone whose hands are soaked in blood [or to be more accurate, in sarin gas] is not like someone whose hands are soaked in water." After all, the "nationalist" Syrian regime has wreaked havoc on the Syrian people in ways even monarchies wouldn’t think up. Absurdly, this bloody regime, which waves the flag of anti-imperialism, is offering its people on a silver platter to be devoured by imperialism and the scum of the earth.

The "nationalist" Syrian regime has in its brutality disintegrated national unity. Syria today, without American intervention, is drowning in a horrendous ethnic war, like Iraq. It is reasonable to assume that what is happening in Syria would also have happened in Iraq even without American intervention. Both in Syria and in Iraq, "national unity" was preserved by the sword. To tell the truth, even the devil himself, and not just the Americans, could not have precipitated such a bloody rampage, if the seeds of chaos had not already been sown by the military junta.

For now, Syria is caught in a terrible trap. If American assault weakens the Assad regime, that will pave the way for the Al-Nusra Front, which is not less vicious, to take control. One the other hand, if they leave Assad alone, it’s like giving him carte blanche to continue and massacre his people.

When the two main belligerents in the conflict, Assad on one side and Jabhat Al-Nusra on the other, are equally bad choices, and we have no influence on the course of events, we should at least refrain from picking a side and carrying its sins on our conscience. Not Assad, whose hands are contaminated with blood, and not the Al-Nusra Front, compared to which the Taliban is like a shining beacon of enlightenment. Therefore, the best advice for now is to stop stirring things from the outside, and that includes the Americans, Russians, Chinese and Iranians.

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