Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Syrian Factor of Mid-East War & Peace

Steven Masone

By Steven Masone

With the Arab League announcing recently it's financing to the Syrian rebel forces and Russia's sending more ground troops under the guise of advisers, a coalition to stop the repressive Syrian dictator Basshar al-Assad from further massacre of civilians protesters is inevitable. 
The successful British and French led NATO action against the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi proves the U.S. does not have to play world cops especially in the Islamic world where it is throwing gasoline onto fire every time we are involved as unilateral military leaders.
The Arab league nations led by Saudi Arabia and Egypt should not even need NATO except as plan B, but the geopolitics of the Arab world demands a proxy coalition so as not to inflame the bad blood feuds that would almost certainly pit Shia Muslims against Sunni, further complicating the regions many volatile issues. 
As fifty world leaders meet in Chicago to address these issues 20-21 May, expert adviser to US governments on security since the 1970s has outlined his vision for how Europe and the US should work together in the 21st century. The French and British-led and US-backed 2011 mission in Libya that led to the toppling of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi "could be the model for the future,” said Brent Scowcroft in a speech at the Atlantic Council think tank, on 3 April. In addition to the strong transatlantic cooperation it showed, the Libya mission crucially won Arab League support and the United Nations’ blessing. Such a model “gets jobs done that need to be done”. While Europe’s forces might have prevailed in Libya without US support, the mission exposed how European military did not have the kind of specialty capabilities it needed for such operations, he warned.
The fact that the speech was given at the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Washington, the event’s host, “was a good symbol” of that model of cooperation forged in Libya, Scowcroft said. The model might work in resolving the Israel–Palestine conflict, although he doubted it could be used to resolve the ongoing conflict in Syria given that country’s complexity. Invading Syria “would be a catastrophe” akin to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, he said. Commenting on Iran, Scowcroft was “somewhat optimistic” that China and Russia would eventually recognise, as the EU and US did, the long-term threat that Iran posed to global security. But he advised strongly against an Israeli military strike on Iran to take out its nuclear capability, saying thus would make Iran “like al-Qaeda on steroids ] making trouble in every way possible”.
With Russia and China taking sides with Syrian dictatorship, there is no mystery as to their position in regards to Iran. Iran has the most to fear when Assad is forced out and Syria has their part in the Arab Spring revolutions. However with the Muslim Brotherhood seizing power in Egypt, the possibility of another extreme authoritarian Islamic theocratic repressive regime there is likely. But two steps forward and one back is progress in this very complicated Middle East drama.

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