In March 2011, when fighting in Syria began, the backers of the rebels had predicted an imminent overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad. Now more than two years on, Syrian government has survived despite many groups and forces inimical to Assad are fighting Syrian forces. Since August 2012, the rebels have been in and out of Aleppo, a commercial hub. They had taken control of strategically important border town Qusayr for a couple of days, but Assad’s forces with the support of Hezbollah fighters recaptured Qusayr from rebels. The Syrian army also retook control of the UN-monitored crossing at Quneitra in the Golan Heights that had been overrun by rebel forces. Right from the beginning, some of President Obama’s advisors have been urging him to arm the rebels, but at that time he was preoccupied with his election. Now, on the pretext of Syrian forces having used chemical weapons they push him to resort to military action to soften up Syrian regime.
President Obama has been procrastinating on the decision because firstly American public is interested in its welfare and not war, because it entails huge expenditures and Americans would be deprived of adequate allocations for health and other welfare schemes. Anti-war demonstrations held in front of White House and elsewhere are reflective of anti-war sentiment in American public. It is in the wake of public pressure that President Barack Obama postponed the use of military force against Syria in response to the alleged chemical weapons attacks near Damascus and decided to seek congressional authorization for such a strike. But the Congress is in recess until Sept 9, and it is unlikely that lawmakers would convene earlier for an emergency vote. Last week, President Obama said that although his administration believed it had obtained proof that chemical weapons deployed by the Syrian government, he had not yet reached a decision on how to proceed.
It has to be mentioned that team of UN inspectors, which spent four days investigating last week’s alleged chemical attacks on suburbs of Damascus, has yet to submit its report. Anyhow, President Barack Obama put on hold military action against the Damascus regime, but stated he was confident US lawmakers would green-light a strike. Secretary of State John Kerry says that President reserves the right to strike regardless of Congress’ decision, and a White House official said the pause would also allow him time to build international support. So far, France has expressed its willingness to go along the US. Arab League and Saudi kingdom of course support the military action, as they favor the regime change in Syria for obvious reasons. On the other hand, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron is hamstrung by the majority in House of Commons which is against joining military operation against Syria; thus Britain would not be a part of the coalition. Germany has also refused to be the part of coalition, as it had done when the US attacked Libya.
Meanwhile, Russia has advised President Obama to abandon the warpath reminding him that he was awarded the Nobel Prize in view of his declarations to work for peace. Meanwhile, five US warships armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles have converged on the eastern Mediterranean ready to launch strikes on Syrian targets. And as the saying goes that once America decides to go to war, it does so not caring for the cost and the consequences. But there is no justification for attacking Syria on the basis of lies and ruses as it was done in case of attack on Iraq. Where is the incontrovertible evidence that chemicals weapons were used? Secondly, how it could be proved whether the rebels used these weapons to frame Syrian regime or chemical weapons were used by the Syrian government. The mere fact that the chemical weapons were used in rebel-controlled area, did not prove that Syrian forces used them.
It has to be mentioned that during Vietnam War the US had used chemical weapons and gas called Agent Orange that killed 400,000, deformed 500,000 and sickened another 2 million. A complete generation of Agent Orange victims is suffering from the effects of the deadly chemical. During Iraq-Iran war, Iraq had used gas arguably supplied by his allies when Irani forces had made advances and were on the verge of victory. But the US and the West and Arab world were all praise for Saddam Hussain - dictator. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said: “Claims that the regime had used chemical weapons were utter nonsense and lacking proof”. There is every possibility that Russia would shoot down any resolution tabled in the U.N. Security Council regarding military action against Syria. It is worth mentioning that last month, Ayman al Zwahiri had urged Syrians to unite to bring down President Bashar al-Assad, and at the same time thwart, what he said, US plans to set up a client state in Syria to safeguard Israel’s security. Uncertainties however abound, as further spill-over of Syrian crisis will not bode well for regional as well as international players involved there. Anyhow to avert any major catastrophe, a UN brokered talks should be initiated by non-partisan and non-aligned countries sooner rather than later to find a negotiated settlement. Russia should persuade the Syrian regime to come to the negotiating table, and the US and France should ask the rebels to hold talks with the regime to avert human disaster.
The writer is a political analyst and freelance columnist.