web analytics
April 18, 2015 / 29 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


J.E. Dyer: Syria – Going, going, gone?

Demonstrations for Syria

Demonstrations for Syria
Photo Credit: Sliman Khader/Flash90

Syrian situation on the ground

Is the strategic situation changing inside Syria?  There are developments that suggest it is.  The Assad regime is mounting an assault today on the northern enclave in rebel hands.  Unconfirmed reports suggest that regime forces have recaptured Idlib, a key city held by the Free Syrian Army.

Significantly, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also reported that the Syrian government is laying mines on the borders with Turkey and Lebanon, a measure designed to keep foreign forces out and curtail the rebels’ cross-border cooperation.  There is no reporting about the border with Iraq, but Iraq is the land route between Syria and Iran, which Assad will probably not want to imperil.  The borders with Turkey and Lebanon are the likely infiltration routes for foreign special forces and support to the Syrian rebels.

Yesterday, moreover, Russia dispatched two planeloads of humanitarian assistance to Syria.  Raise your hand if you think the two IL-76 cargo aircraft contained only “humanitarian” goods.  (OK, you with the hands up, go de-mine the Syrian border.)

The hour is late.  The fact that the US and EU have no momentum does not mean that no one has; with each passing day, it is more likely to mean the opposite.  If Assad is able to regain control of his territory, there will be no acceptable – no unifying – pretext for intervention.  The battle for this objective appears to have already started.  As between the dithering of the West and the cynical pragmatism of Russia and China, the latter seems to be looking pretty good to the Arab League.

The road not taken

What should the US have done by now?  Adopted a determined objective of our own – in my view, it could only have been removing Assad, preventing a takeover by Islamists, and brokering the establishment of a consensual, multi-party government – and pursued the objective pragmatically but in a principled manner.  It is very possible the objective could have been achieved without military action.

Regarding the pragmatism: Russia has a stake in Syria.  It doesn’t matter whether we think she should or not; she does.  Get over it; stop haranguing Russia pointlessly in public forums, and concentrate on herding Russia toward our objective.  If Syria is not taken over by Islamists, Russia wins.  So do we.  That should unite us in riding herd on the plans of the Erdogan government, as well as Iran’s and the Muslim Brotherhood’s.

In any case, Russia has always been the key to removing Assad without the need for military intervention, and in late January and February, Russia was even obliquely communicating a willingness to trade Assad for a new model.  The character of Syrian territory as a strategic factor for Russia – whether it is hostile or friendly – is of more importance to Moscow than is Bashar al-Assad.

A solution in which the Syrian people were empowered to operate more freely in a true multi-party government, under the aegis of multinational protection against both Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, would be the most desirable, achievable outcome.  It is not possible to broker this outcome while ignoring Russia, but it would be possible to broker it by including Russia.  There are enough competing interests, between the US, the Arab world, the EU, Russia, and Turkey, to leverage everyone into a favorable compromise.  The overriding principle should be that the Syrian people be relieved of Assad but do not fall prey to Islamists – and that is a principle that the governments of most of the Arab League, as well as Europe and Russia, could unite around.

A key principle of the Reagan administration, that negotiating with the old Soviet Union on human rights was integral to global security, should underlie the US approach to Syria.  We need not hand Moscow a third-party revolution in Syria; we would do better to warn Russia that that’s what she’ll get if she doesn’t work with us – and then focus on the political conditions in Syria.  Russia may retain a special relationship with Syria as we are watching over its liberalization,  but the guarantee of a more liberal political atmosphere will do what it always does: empower the liberalizers and foster transparency and truth.  Russia’s relationship with Syria should depend on adapting to that.

But only the US has the power to ensure that condition.  None of this would be easy.  I can think of few things less fun than dealing with Russia and Turkey on Syria.  But a program like this is feasible, or at least it has been, because there are so many competing interests to leverage.  US leadership is what is missing in all this – and it will not look like leadership to anyone else unless it contains an element of enforcement.  (The reason why Russia’s position is starting to look more like leadership to those in the region is precisely that it does.)  Everyone should be worried that if he doesn’t compromise and accept the basic features of the US position, he won’t be in on the solution.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “J.E. Dyer: Syria – Going, going, gone?”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
U.S. President Barack Obama
Obama’s Creativity: Signing Bonus Substituting for Sanctions Lifting
Latest Indepth Stories
Mrs. Golda Katz a"h

She had many names and was many things to many people, but to me she was just Babineni.

ISIS terrorist carries the group's black flag.

Is ISIS in Gaza? “No, but there are ISIS loyalists here..we pray to God they unite under ISIS’ flag”

Cliff Rieders

Rabbi Portal was that great “inspirer,” changing people for the better, enriching the lives of all

MK Moshe-Feiglin

Iran knows Obama, Putin, and the Europeans don’t have a Red Line beyond which they will go to war

There is no way to explain the Holocaust. I know survivors who are not on speaking terms with G-d. I know many who are the opposite. I have no right to go there…

When a whole side of your family perishes, friends become the extended family you do not have.

“We stand with Israel because of its values and its greatness and because its such a wonderful ally”

Mr. Obama himself inelegantly cautioned members of the Senate to be careful not to “screw up” the negotiations by seeking to have input into the future of the sanctions regime that has been imposed on Iran.

For our community, Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy record will doubtless attract the most attention. And it is a most interesting one.

Mitchell Bard is nothing if not prolific. He has written and edited 23 books, including “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Middle East” and “The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America’s Interests in the Middle East.” Bard, who has a Ph.D. in political science from UCLA, is also the executive director of both the […]

Understanding the process described in Dayenu reveals deep relevance for us today.

For Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, the tanks, planes, and uniforms of the IDF were implements of mitzvot

The only way to become humble is honesty about our experiences; it’s the only path to true humility

Obama’s approach to evildoers echoes Gandhi’s fatuous and muddleheaded pleas to his “friend” Hitler

More Articles from J. E. Dyer
Steven Joel Sotloff as a hostage of ISIS, before his beheading.

In his travels as a journalist in the Islamic world, Sotloff never referred to his Jewishness.

ZIM Piraeus in happier days. (Image: ShipSpotting.com user b47b56)

ZIM Piraeus isn’t Israeli-owned or flagged, incidentally, it is Greek operated.

Obama is transparent, if you read his oracular signs with the right key.

ISIS has no intention of “marching on” Baghdad. The Sunni affiliates of ISIS are going to disrupt life there.

Oslo’s moment of unchallenged American supremacy and the illusion of unforced global stasis, passed.

Could the Obamas be any more “let ‘em eat cake”?

The Obama administration wants to take over the short-term financial services industry.

The topics are “The Reagan Strategy,” and the “Iran Time Bomb.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/j-e-dyer-syria-going-going-gone/2012/03/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: