As we previously warned, the longer Bashar Assad’s fall is delayed, the higher the price we must pay. Some people are warning of Syria becoming like another Somalia, however, anybody monitoring what is happening there, and the extent of the international inaction, will clearly understand that the model that Syria is moving closer and closer to is that of Afghanistan.

The longer it takes to reach a decisive conclusion in Syria, and the more the people of Syria suffer, the closer Syria becomes to being another Afghanistan. Some might say that arming the Syrian opposition is what would create another Afghanistan, however, this is completely untrue, for what caused Afghanistan to end up as it did was not arming the so-called “mujahedeen” but rather neglecting the country following the defeat of the Soviet occupation.

The problem was caused by neglecting and ignoring the Afghan fighters following this, which meant that figures like Bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri and others were able to come out of the woodwork. When the policies of the West are solely based on serving electoral agendas, this is when we find a world filled with chaos and wars. This can be evidenced in the West today returning to launch a Somalia conference after more than 20 years of ignoring this country, and this was after Bill Clinton took the decision to withdraw from Somalia for fear of the election results! If George Bush Senior had acted with the same logic as Clinton, he would never have driven Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait!

There are a number of reasons that cannot be ignored as to why Syria is moving closer to becoming another Afghanistan, should Assad’s departure continue to be delayed. For example, despite the fact that Iraq recently announced its indifference to Assad, Baghdad returned Syrian military defectors who sought refuge in the country back to Damascus. The motive for this is clear; this was either due to Iranian pressure or sectarianism, which in any case is one and the same thing.

Here, it is important to recall the statement made by an unnamed Lebanese Shiite official to Reuters last week, namely that “there is no Syria after Assad.” This is certainly the opinion of Hezbollah as well, for they will do the impossible to ensure there is no Syria after Assad, and Iran is following Iraq and Hezbollah in this regard. Here it is clear that Syria is trapped between Iran’s allies and agents! The reader must also remember Israel’s position on the map!

This Iranian, Shiite, support will fuel the sense of sectarianism amongst the Syrian Sunni community, indeed the Sunni communities of Iraq, Lebanon, and the entire region. This means that we would be facing a sectarian war, in which case the situation in Syria will not be like that in Lebanon following the assassination of Rafik Hariri, for in Lebanon the rationality of the Hariri family sought to portray this assassination as political, not religious.  Saudi Arabia participated and indeed initiated this course, despite the fact that it is well known that this was a political-sectarian assassination; Hariri was the leader of the Sunni community in Lebanon, and an ally of Saudi Arabia. Despite the fact that this assassination was politically foolish, the realities indicate that Iran, Assad and Hezbollah benefited the most from this. Here, we must also recall that there are tribes in Syria, some of whom have historical or geographical ties with Iraq and Jordan and even Saudi Arabia.

Therefore, we must understand that the longer Bashar Assad’s fall is delayed, the higher the price we must pay, and the closer Syria moves to becoming another Afghanistan with new and worse Bin Ladens and Al-Zawahiris appearing on the scene!

In summary, the longer the tyrant of Damascus’s fall is delayed, the more exorbitant a price we will pay!

— The author is editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. – Arab News