At the Washington meeting, Obama and Erdogan agreed that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad must go. But who will they replace him with and how will they get rid of him? Obama said that the Syrian dictator, “Needs to transfer power to a transitional body….That is the only way we’re going to resolve this crisis.”
But that is demonstrably false because Assad won’t step down. So what’s the United States going to do about it?
Once again the Turkish government has taken the lead on U.S. policy by pushing for direct U.S. aid to the rebels. That means giving money, weapons, and other aid to the Muslim Brotherhood and more radical groups to take power because the real moderates in the Syrian opposition are rare.
And again what is Obama going to do to bring about this objective? ‘Will he continue to follow advice from Erdogan which has already proven to be wrong because it is based on the interests of a Turkish Islamist regime seeking to promote Sunni Islamism and Turkish influence in the region?
Obama’s expressed hope of creating a Syria that is “a source of stability, not extremism” is very dangerous because he might well hope that but it is not a realistic goal. And again what is Obama going to do to bring about this objective?
(Incidentally. the U.S. government has apologized to Israel for U.S. officials confirming to the New York Times that a ground attack within Syria earlier this month was staged by Israel. Publicly stating this information forced Syria (and Hizballah and Iran) to officially threaten Israel with retaliation, thus endangering Israel.) Now, too, Iran, Russia, and Hizballah are stepping up support for Assad. It is clear that Russia will block tougher action in the U.N. Security Council. It is also stepping up arms shipments to Assad. If Russia provides Syria with advanced anti-aircraft missiles these could be used to shoot down any U.S. planes that tries to enforce a no-fly zone.
Yet Obama doesn’t have the credibility or leverage with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who from every indication holds him in contempt as a weakling, to stop Moscow from showing that it is the stronger, more reliable ally. Hizballah has up to 5,000 fighters inside Syria now, though they have been mainly employed in holding territory vital for Assad’s survival.
The rebels will not win without a lot of U.S. help. This civil war is becoming an international test of wills in which Obama–for reasons that are not unreasonable--doesn’t want to fight. Yet does that mean the United States will accept a humiliating defeat at the hands of Tehran and Moscow? Fortunately, while the rebels cannot win, they also are likely to hold much of Syria. In other words, Assad can’t put down the rebellion either. But the result will be: stalemate; continued war for two years or more; tens of thousands of more deaths.
One day there will be congressional investigations on how U.S. policy armed terrorist and even, albeit unintentionally, al Qaeda groups. It will be too late. The situation in Syria makes the Iran-Contra affair–U.S. involvement during the Reagan Administration in supplying arms to pro-American Nicaraguan rebels–look like a picnic.
The situation is getting very dangerous and with a “friend” like Erdogan it is clear that Obama’s policy toward Syria, Iran, the advance of revolutionary Islamism, and the Israel-Palestinian “peace process,” is in serious trouble.
Originally published at Rubin Reports.
About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.
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