Pres. Obama and his advisors have begun speaking publicly, albeit in muted terms so far, of the prospect for a Kosovo-style military intervention in Syria to punish Bashir Assad’s government for alleged use of chemical weapons. The example of Kosovo brings up reminders of the 78-day air war there which led Serbia to withdraw from the province, and to eventual Kosovar independence.
Much would depend in Syria on what the goal of the intervention would be: is it only to punish Assad and warn him to remain within the limits of conventional warfare in his battle against rebel forces? Or would it be to impose a no-fly zone that would substantially tilt the battle in favor of the rebels? Or would it be to topple Assad (as was the case with the Libya intervention)? If the latter was the goal, Obama would no doubt never state this publicly out of fear the public would link Syrian intervention to the NATO-led overthrow of Muamar Ghaddafi. That episode ended in quite ugly fashion when Libyan rebels murdered the former dictator in a most brutal and ugly fashion. His end didn’t redound to the credit of the western intervention.
If the U.S. and a coalition of western allies does take action against Assad’s forces, what might the likely result be inside Syria? Given that the rebels are a disorganized, often brutal lot dominated by some unsavory al-Qaeda affiliated groups, I doubt Obama wants to throw in his lot with them. In that case, he might think twice about a military action that would result in Assad’s downfall. We simply can’t guarantee a stable outcome, and the chances of the country falling into the hands of the al-Nusra Front and its allies are too great.
But there is a potential outcome that might prove highly desirable both to Israel and even to Assad himself in the event the goal of intervention is to remove Assad as ruler of a unitary state (but not to neuter him politically). Some observers have suggested that Syria could fragment into cantons based on religious or ethnic dominance/affiliation. That might mean that the Mediterranean coast, where Alawites predominate could become a rump Alawite mini-state ruled by Assad and his acolytes.
Israel, having experience with carving out territorial buffers in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank, would be intensely interested in creating such a zone in the Golan. There it would have willing partners in the Syrian Druze, who are related by family and clan to those on the Israeli side of the ceasefire line. It’s known that the IDF and Israeli intelligence have been active inside Syria liaising with friendly Druze rebel forces. The model here would be southern Lebanon in the 18-year period when Israel occupied it with the help of the Falangist South Lebanese Army.
If this scenario should come to pass, clearly the Islamist rebel groups would carve out their territorial niche as well. Turkey might see it as being in its interests to carve out a sphere in northern Syria that served as a buffer from attacks on its territory. The conflict and tension between the various mini-states would be severe. There could never be stability, though there could be a marginally acceptable status quo based on a form of mutually assured deterrence.
Though various interests and players may find this outcome desirable, it’s a bad idea for many reasons. First, because Syria will cease to be a unified state and become a loose conglomeration of fiefdoms ruled (at least in some or most cases) by warlords and other corrupt types. Second, because such chaos will have to be constantly monitored and policed by the same western coalition that created it in the first place. This in turn is a recipe for a form of ongoing, if not occupation, then intervention. Neither Obama nor the American people can want such a thing after a decade of two Middle Eastern wars and the possibility of a third, if Netanyahu succeeds in drawing us into an adventure against Iran.
While there can be no doubt that if Assad’s forces carried out the latest chemical weapons attacks some form of military response is justified (watch this video to feel the heartbreak this attack caused), what that form takes is crucial to determining Syria’s future. If we fall in with a full-bore Israeli-style intervention, we risk much to our own reputation and the region’s stability for decades to come. That will suit parties like Israel just fine. But Israel’s narrow parochial interests are not those of the region.
The question to be answered here is ‘Qui bono?’ To whose advantage?
On my understanding of the situation in Syria, the Syrian Government forces have had the upper hand for some time now and little of the country in percentage terms is under the control of the insurgents.
What possible benefit would the Syrian Government hope to gain by using chemical weapons? After the last alleged use of chemical weapons when it was alleged that the Government had used Sarin, Assad’s Government would be under no delusions about the likely Western response. If they are winning, why would they? If you now look at the perspective of the insurgents, they are losing the civil war, they are trying to get Western intervention on their side without success, would they carry out a false flag operation? Would they rate the sacrifice of some innocent lives as worth it if it led to Western intervention and their ultimate victory?
On balance, it seems to me that the insurgents have more to gain from an attack like this than the Government.
@ Blabbaer: I agree, it’s widely believed that the Syrian Government is “winning” the war, and so I agree it makes no sense at all for them to launch a chemical attack of this kind — especially with the UN chemical weapons inspectors they invited staying only a few miles away. The explanation that “the Syrian Government is evil” (while perhaps true) is neither sufficient nor serious, and Western governments and media should not insult people by demanding they accept it.
So I too am highly skeptical of the allegations, although I’ve also considered the possibility that the attack could have been carried out by Government forces without the authorization of their superiors. Odd as that scenario is — especially as I doubt just any Alawite officer would have arbitrary access to such munitions — it seems more plausible than Assad deciding it’s a good idea to launch this attack under the present circumstances.
Still, there are too many glaring problems here, and too many possible alternative explanations, for me to be convinced without seeing actual proof — especially since the Western world (or rather, the anti-Shia world) seems on the verge of making a huge and unacceptable mistake in trying to intervene directly in the conflict. The burden of proof is on those advocating a potentially catastrophic escalation of war, or making such assertions as would inevitably result in such escalation.
You are right about the missing motive for Assad to do this, but no mention about the massive Israeli motives to supply terrorist in Syria to do this. This invasion will kill hundreds more women and children in Syria to teach ASSAD a lesson not to kill does not make any sense at all. So far no western Muppet Media News have delivered any proof that Assad launched these gas missiles but every one accuses him of doing it. The truth is Israel needs the US to destroy the Russian defensive missiles and destroy their aircraft so that Israel can fly over entire middle east with impunity. Notice how quiet Netanyahu gets just before he orders his White House “shvartze” to invade Syria. This was planned when “shvartze” came to visit Israel because Netanyahu has tried to destroy Russian missiles but failed three times. Now it’s up to the shvartze to do it.
H. Mor says
” we risk much to our own reputation and the region’s stability for decades to come. ”
What reputation ? during the last two years you lost all reputation in the region, to the point that Sisi refused to even talk to Obama. (http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=5393)
About time you’ll wake up in america.
Richard Silverstein says
H. Mor: I didn’t lose anything. If you’re talking about the U.S. government, if it lost its reputation it’s because of following blindly militarists and adventurers in your country who’d lead us down the garden path to war & devestation. A path Israel has followed for many years.
I’ve asked you once to explain your bona fides to discuss Iron Dome issues. You’ve not responded. An honest person shouldn’t have a problem saying who’s their employer and where they come by their expertise. If you refuse, I can only judge your contributions being in less than good faith.
H. Mor says
“If you’re talking about the U.S. government, if it lost its reputation it’s because of following blindly militarists and adventurers in your country who’d lead us down the garden path to war & devestation. A path Israel has followed for many years.”
Oh, are you trying to claim that because of Israel the US invaded Afghanistan ? Or maybe because of Israel you invaded Iraq ?
Both claims are false, in a matter of fact the Bush administration based their intelligence on Ahmed Chalabi, Israeli intelligence tried to warn the US administration the Ahmed Chalabi was not telling the truth. But hey, if you can blame Israel, why not. (Ronen Bergman published as such in one of his books)
The US lost it’s reputation in the region because it supported the wrong side in the region’s conflict between secularism and Islamism, Obama lost it’s reputation because he didn’t support the US allies in the region, because he always reacted after the fact, and showed no coherent policy. Israel has absolutely nothing to do with it, Israel does not determine US foreign policy in the middle east or elsewhere.
@ H. Mor: “Israel has absolutely nothing to do with it, Israel does not determine US foreign policy in the middle east or elsewhere.”
You’re saying that Israel has nothing to do with US foreign policy, and its lack of credibility? Really?
H. Mor says
So your claim is that Israel determines US foreign policy ? that AIPAC controls the Secretary of state that does whatever the Israeli government wants ?
If so, could you please tell me how did we fail so miserably ? after-all the US didn’t bombard Iranian nuclear facilities just yet , did it ?
Richard Silverstein says
@ H. Mor: “Just yet” is the operative phrase. Bibi and his minions in the Jewish communal leadership are hard at work & have been for years to bring war against Iran. They haven’t failed yet. But if you examine our policy toward Palestine, it is entirely emasculated by Israeli obstructionism.
@ H. Mor: No, that is not my claim. That would be absurd.
Israel obviously does not determine US foreign policy, but it does obviously exercise a powerful influence on US foreign policy.
AIPAC obviously does not control the US Secretary of State, but it does obviously dominate significant parts of Congress.
It is, in significant part, because of these circumstances and because they are so widely known, that US foreign policy in the Middle East is viewed with derision and cynicism across the world.
Do you disagree with any of this?
As for your assessment that the Israel lobby has “failed” in any way when it comes to US foreign policy, that is ridiculous. Under US protection in the Security Council, under the US military umbrella on the ground, and with the money of the American taxpayer, Israel has been able to do pretty much whatever it wants, essentially without significant concessions, for the past several decades, despite the outrage and protestations of the world community. So no, I’d hardly call that a miserable failure. The fact that the US has not bombarded Iran is a childish yardstick to go by and signifies nothing.
Richard Silverstein says
@Daniel: Actually, if you’ll recall the confirmation hearings for Chuck Hagel and Samantha Powers, each had to pledge fealty to Israel after especially feisty, independent & inconvenient remarks they each made about Israel. Remarks that were very critical. They were forced to eat crow & renounce their former views in order to be confirmed. John Kerry has never been an independent voice on this issue so he’s had nothing to retract. So does the Lobby control senior U.S. officials when it comes to Israel related policy? You bet. You may say “control” is too strong a word. But the Lobby dominates every aspect of policy concerning Israel-Palestine.
H. Mor says
Only US military umbrella on the ground ? what about the american pilots that flew our airplanes during the six days war and Yom Kippur war ?
American tax payers money ? Do you have any idea what’s Israel’s defense budget was ? what’s percentage is the American support is out of this budget ? i’m afraid it’s quite different then what you think.
Israeli defense yearly budget is $17,084,182,857 US yearly support is approximately $3,000,000,000, 17% of the Israel defense budget, and 2.5% of the state budget which is $115,763,800,000. Israel will do without the US military aid quite well.
The only thing we can do with the said support is buying US goods, and Israel buy US goods in an amount exceeding the US military Aid budget. For example in 2010 Israel decided to buy 20 F35’s to the tune of 3 Billion Dollars. The Aid gives the US access to Israeli technology, and prevents Israel from acting against US interest in the world, for example in 2000 Israel had canceled a deal with the Chinese to sell them an early warning air system due to American pressure.
In short, reality is quite different then what you portray it to be. Throughout history we heard many times that the Jewish plan for global domination. There is nothing original in your claims.
Richard Silverstein says
This is WAY off-topic. COnfine comments directly to the subject of the post on which you’re commenting.
You think Israel can do without U.S. military support equaling 17% of the Israeli military budget? Where will it get the funds to replace 1 dollar in every five it spends on defense? From Holocaust survivors? The Israeli poor? Nochi Danker or Judy Mozes?
Not to mention if Israel can do without U.S. aid will you publicly demand such a policy from your government? If not, you’re nothing but a hypocrite.
As for reality being different than YOU portray it: that’s true.
I’m offended by this nonsense. Others have tried playing the anti-Semitism card here & you’re no different. Don’t try this again. It’s another comment rule violation. Read the rules & respect them.
@ H. Mor: “Throughout history we heard many times that the Jewish plan for global domination. There is nothing original in your claims.”
Please keep your disgusting and false imputations to yourself. I have never suggested a “Jewish plan for global domination”.
The US would automatically intervene to protect Israel in the event that the latter were ever seriously threatened. That is the reality of the American umbrella. Do you dispute this?
“Israel will do without the US military aid quite well.”
Great. Perhaps someone should inform Washington and the Knesset of this.
“In short, reality is quite different then what you portray it to be.”
I asked, ‘Do you disagree with any of this?’ with regards to my earlier assertions. You haven’t answered. I assume you have no answer.
H. Mor says
“I have never suggested a “Jewish plan for global domination”, really ?
So how do you suggest the state of Israel has that influence over the most powerful (the only – but not for long) empire in the world ? is it a voodoo doll we use to stare US politicians ? or is it AIPAC a Jewish organization that controls politicians through donations to their campaign ? How exactly we achieve that influence ?
The nice thing about your Umbrella argument is that it was never tested. US presidential commitments regarding Israel however were ignored by US other presidents – more then once.
If you didn’t understand from my reply that i do not agree with your statement, there is nothing i can do to help. And just to be clear, i do not think that Israel’s influence in the US is as big as you claim it is.
In fact let me ask you this, if the Influence is so big how come until 1969 Coke-Cola wasn’t sold in Israel ?
Richard Silverstein says
How does the Lobby control U.S. policy toward Israel? Let’s start with Sheldon Adelson’s $150-million in the last presidential campaign. Let’s continue with hundreds of millions of dollars from other pro-Israel donors funneled ONLY to pro-Israel politicians. These people see the handwriting on the wall. They know they will lose elections if they take on the Lobby. So they don’t.
Other than George Bush the First no U.S. president has crossed the Lobby in the past 60 yrs. None.
WAY, WAY off-topic.
@ H. Mor: ““I have never suggested a “Jewish plan for global domination”, really ?”
Yes, really. And if you’re going to keep bringing up vile anti-Semitic tropes, I have no interest in discussing further with you.
“So how do you suggest the state of Israel has that influence over the most powerful (the only – but not for long) empire in the world ? is it a voodoo doll we use to stare US politicians ? or is it AIPAC a Jewish organization that controls politicians through donations to their campaign ? How exactly we achieve that influence ?”
It’s called lobbying. Have you heard of it? Or perhaps you really think this is done by magic and voodoo dolls? Try looking it up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobbying
“The nice thing about your Umbrella argument is that it was never tested. US presidential commitments regarding Israel however were ignored by US other presidents – more then once.”
I doubt anyone else in the world shares this skepticism about the American commitment to Israel’s security. Even if America were to betray Israel at the last minute, which is a ridiculous scenario, there is no-one in the world who would count on that. The American-Israeli alliance is a deterrent, whether you trust it or not.
“In fact let me ask you this, if the Influence is so big how come until 1969 Coke-Cola wasn’t sold in Israel ?”
What the Hell does that have to do with anything? Why would that be a measure of influence over foreign policy?
You haven’t put forward a single serious argument to support your notion that Israeli and American foreign policy have nothing to do with each other.
This conversation is starting to look like a dead end, and I doubt anyone else reading these comments would be interested in us continuing.
H. Mor says
Excuse me, Lobbying is using means to influence a decision. What means are being used ? Political threats: which includes donation cutoff, Media exposure and persuasion. If you would be honest with yourself and you’ll brake down your accusation to the smallest components you will see, that your allegations and the ones written in many places about Jewry controlled media and money markets are very similar.
The coke-cola argument was brought to show you that the biggest corporations in the US didn’t pay homage to the most powerful “lobbying” group in the world (You need to be very influential to determine a superpower foreign policy)
I never claimed that ” Israeli and American foreign policy have nothing to do with each other.”
Israel and the US share many values and interests, and that’s what determines US foreign policy, not some folk tales about how influential the Israeli lobby was. The US never made a decision that contradicts its own interest (with respect to Israel of course).
You didn’t provide any argument to support your argument.
And yes absolutely, let’s stop here.
Richard Silverstein says
Again, a major comment rule violation. If you go into this territory again, you’ll be moderated.
Richard Silverstein says
@H. Mor: No. I’m arguing that Israel has dragged the U.S. to the verge of conflict with Iran, to support at least tacitly a military coup in Egypt, to support continuing Israeli Occupation of Palestine, to support wars against Lebanon & Gaza, and into foolhardy weapons systems like Iron Dome. Independently, of course the U.S. has made its share of foolhardy choices in terms of initiating Middle Eastern wars. But in many of these, Israeli militarists supported these adventures as well.
You’re precisely wrong on every element of your final paragraph. We lost our reputation because OBama gave one good speech in Cairo and then didn’t have the courage of his convictions to follow through on the admirable sentiments expressed. We should’ve supported the Arab SPring (though not necessarily the MB). We should’ve supported Palestinian reconciliation, talks with Hamas, negotiations with Iran, and democratization in the region including in Israel. Instead, we waffled. We pined for our former strongmen allies. We lost the opportunity to cultivate opposition forces.
Of course Israel has tremendous influence on U.S. ME policy. If there’s a war with Iran it will be largely due to Likudist pressure for one. If we refuse to strongly oppose the Egyptian military coup, it will be in large part because of Israeli & Israel lobby pressure not to do so. If we refuse to pressure Israel to cease hostilities with Palestine & Lebanon it will be largely because we’ve bought Israel’s bogus strategy hook, line & sinker.
Master Adrian says
Somehow there’s the feeling of a repetition of the past, and lessons seem not o have been learned from it……..
First of, the United States of America is NOT the police of the world, and without authorization of and by the United Nations intervention by the USA into Syria would mean a warcrime!
America would be very wise to at least wait for acknowledgement of the crime of using chemical weapons by the Syrian regime of Assad, and then no acknowledgement by the American intelligence services (they failed before and have not learned as present day activities on collecting evidence of whatever kind show clearly!).
Only neutral un-biased organizations can provide evidence on this!
Secondly, what will the USA do when it turns out that there was use of chemical weapons and that these chemical weapons were used by the opposition of the Syrian regime of Assad?
Will the USA then also speak of “crossing a red line”?
Parties in Syria are untrustworthy, de facto as they are using all tactics that are considered under international military law as warcrimes, and under international human rights laws also as crimes… so who is in fact the perpetrator?
There is not one opposition against the Assad regime, there are splitted groups who fight the regime, and each other, and the ones suffering is the population, innocent children en women are killed, people are feeling the warzone and nobody cares about them, the UN is unable to estimate the number of refugees (showing its inability to even make good estimates of refugees, showing that the UN is a starting to even become as inadequate in helping people as in solving disputes!), and the USA is (again) starting to act as if they are the police of the world (which they are not!)…..
Thirdly, and this is a general observation on and about the region, the countries in the Middle East are failing were it concerns democracy, human rights and a judicial system that is based on justice instead of revenge! All so-called efforts of a Spring in the Middle East are failing!
Simple… there’s no experience with democracy, there’s no knowledge of human rights nor the desire to implement the Universal Declaration and Rules of Human Rights, and as long as there is an overall willingness and eagerness to implement religious rules and laws in a society that in fact is opposing to them, no freedom, no equality and no democracy will be possible!
Division based on religious doctrines obstruct freedom, prevent equality and block democracy!
And, that is not only the case in the Middle East but all around the world, in the Middle East as well as the West, were religious representatives open their mouth (on whatever level) freedom is gone, and blocked!
I’ve spend quite some hours looking through the sources and videos about the alleged attack from the Syrian army. The videos are truly heartbreaking and horrific, though no proof whether Sarin nerve agent was used, a cocktail of chemicals or some professional deceit in a false flag operation. There are some indications part of the videos and photo’s were staged. Some photo’s of deceased children show no signs of post-mortem changes such as skin tone. The videos have been sourced to the main propaganda channels, which would be true by definition. A serie of videos were readied with full translations in the following languages English, Italian, Greek, French, Russian, German, Portoguese, Spanish, Swedish and Persian.
A listing of video’s all translated by the Syrians Translators Union (STU). Facebook page of Muhamad Zehrawi Beak located near Ankara, Turkey.
RE: “Pres. Obama and his advisors have begun speaking publicly, albeit in muted terms so far, of the prospect for a Kosovo-style military intervention in Syria to punish Bashir Assad’s government for alleged use of chemical weapons.”
MY SNARK: Success, at long last!*
* REGARDING A HACKED E-MAIL (DATED DECEMBER 24, 2012) INVOLVING A QATARI SCHEME TO STAGE A FALSE FLAG CHEMICAL WEAPONS ATTACK IN SYRIA, SEE:
“Britamgate: Staging False Flag Attacks in Syria”, Voltaire.org [original source – Oriental Review (Russia)], 2/04/12
ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.voltairenet.org/article177357.html
P.S. ALSO SEE: “Fear Spreads Through Palestinian Camps in Syria”, by Franklin lamb, CounterPunch.org, 8/23/13
SOURCE – http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/08/23/fear-spreads-through-palestinian-camps-in-syria/
P.P.S. AND SEE:“Syria accuses rebels of having ‘chemical agents'” ~ By Patrick J. McDonnell, L.A. Times, 8/24/13
SOURCE – http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-syria-chemical-weapons-accusation-20130824,0,6477582.story
• SYRIAN ARMY FINDS CHEMICALS IN MILITANTS’ TUNNELS IN JOBAR, [VIDEO, 04:14] – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaVEOItMfjc
P.P.P.S. LASTLY, SEE: “Materials implicating Syrian govt in chemical attack prepared before incident – Russia”, RT (Russia Today), 8/23/13
ENTIRE ARTICLE (WITH VIDEOS EMBEDDED) – http://rt.com/news/syria-chemical-prepared-advance-901/
Richard Silverstein says
NYT answered this issue. You Tube videos are time stamped using U.S. Pacific time. Though it was Aug 20th Pacific time it was Aug 21st Syria time.
Britam Defence, David Goulding and Philip Doughty v. Associated Newspapera Ltd. (Mail Online)
The Claimants’ Solicitor-Advocate (Adam Tudor, Carter-Ruck) statement in the High Court of Justice. Mail Online published an apology on April 18, 2013.
NOTED, but I’m not entirely convinced. “The illegal hacking of Britam Defence’s website remains the
subject of a criminal investigation.”
RE: “Pres. Obama and his advisors have begun speaking publicly . . . of the prospect for a Kosovo-style military intervention in Syria to punish Bashir Assad’s government for alleged use of chemical weapons.”
MY SNARK: Quick, find an aspirin factory to bomb! ! !
Richard. Wanted to bring this to your attn:
“Mossad: “poison gas missile by Syrian government forces”
According to the findings of Israeli intelligence community, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is responsible for the gas attack in Damascus.One unit of the Military Intelligence Service Amam, which specializes in wireless spy “Unit 8200″, controlled at the time of the gas attack, the communication of the Syrian army.A former Mossad officer told FOCUS, the analysis has clearly shown that the bombardment with poison gas missiles was made by Syrian government forces”.
Fred Plester says
More than one rebel group associates the gas attacks (there have been several, but only one produced a large death toll) with two brigades commanded by President Assad’s younger brother. They also stress his loyalty to what remains of the ba’ath party more than to his brother, the president.
So while I think it’s specious to claim the rebels staged it, especially on the strength of Russia Today pictures of a “rebel cache” of gas masks, test kits and antidote injectors, which are all defences against chemical weapons and not chemical weapons themselves, there does seem a strong possibility that none of this is president Assad’s idea. However, as long as the act was committed by what remain his forces, then he’s still responsible.
What the Ba’ath party’s motive might be is opaque, but I don’t think the president can control the military and the government without them, so they will be calling the shots, no matter how much this is all portrayed in terms of President Assad’s personality and his own imperatives for action.
I’d be tempted to limit any direct military action to trying to mallet the younger brother and other Ba’ath party leaders and see if that allowed President Assad more room to negotiate. If it’s done the other way round, hitting the president and letting the men in the shadows, remain in the shadows while they run everything, then the situation will get a lot worse.
we are quickly reaching the stage i suggested a while back in my comment about these being very dangerous times.
i repeat again that Putin will NOT stand idle by and watch Syria over-run by American military assisted by French Israeli and who knows who else.
i also believe he has drawn a red line of his own secretly that has prevented such an attack up till now.
so now you see that an obvious attack like chemical weapons had to have occurred to surmount that red line.
and …magically it has!
already you see Syria responding to calls for attacking it by announcing Israel will be their target.
Iran will certainly be involved as will the Chinese.
Do we know who has the Russian-made 3M-82 Moskit anti-ship cruise missiles (NATO designation: SS-N-22 Sunburn), a weapon for which the US Navy currently has no defense?
how many casualties will the American people accept in a war against Syria which they oppose by a great majority?
how many will the people of Israel accept?
very very quickly any attack against Syria will escalate into unknown and unstoppable destruction.
who would seek that?
perhaps some do!
While I would wish that Russia could somehow prevent Western adventurism in Syria, I doubt, when push comes to shove, that they can or will do anything, any more than they did in Serbia.
“Iran will certainly be involved as will the Chinese.”
Chinese involvement? That seems like an absurd prediction to me. Dare I ask what you base this on?