The same group of people who brought devastation to Iraq is now beating the war drums over Syria.  Discussions are dominated by the alleged use of nerve gas by Syria’s Bashar al-Assad’s regime. But that is not the full picture. The mood is ambivalent and there are multiple agendas.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “President Obama’s strategy for winning congressional support for military strikes on Syria relies on two most powerful impulses: to challenge Iran and to protect Israel.”

A senior Israeli gave the Israeli view on Syria’s civil war to the New York Times on September 6, 2013: “Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.”

12 years after 9/11, over 60 percent of the American public—apprehensive of unforeseen repercussions and a blowback impact on the US homeland – strongly opposes a military strike. They are more convinced by arguments against the attack than by arguments for the attack.

Along now has come Moscow’s initiative, pointing to a face-saving way out.

In the US Congress, the majority in the House of Representatives are currently expressing antipathy on bombing Syria. It has impelled Obama to pause and publicly voice his preference for a diplomatic option.

In a signal that he is now stepping back from the brink, Obama indicated that Syria is “not a direct, imminent threat” and told PBS-TV news on September 9: “I was elected to end wars, not start them.”

The proposed attack on Syria, according to the New York Times, would mean, in effect: “an attack inside the territory of a sovereign country, without its consent, without a self-defense rationale and without the authorization of the United Nations Security Council or even the participation of a multilateral treaty alliance like NATO, and for the purpose of punishing an alleged war crime that has already occurred rather than preventing an imminent disaster.”

Standing exposed once again, as was the case on Iraq a decade back, is the supine Arab establishment, a powerless UN, and the toothless OIC, who together have been contributory factors. 

Syria, despite its small size, has always been at the centre stage of history. It is in Damascus that St Paul – the architect of Christianity – preached 2000 years ago. Pope Francis is adamantly opposing military action against Syria.

The flames lit in Syria shall not stay in Syria. All the countries bordering Syria would be affected, including Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq, along with the eastern Mediterranean region, which includes Cyprus with which Syria has historic bonds. 

The humanitarian toll of the Syrian civil war has been catastrophic: 100,000 killed, and 7 million Syrians, or almost one-third of the population, displaced by the country’s civil war, according to a report of the UN refugee agency.

Like Saddam, the callow Assad, through the detested tyranny of his ruling clique, has allowed his nation to be entrapped in a destructive quagmire.  He has also allowed global attention to be conveniently diverted from the horrendous happenings in Egypt, and from the Palestinian issue, which remains at the core of the unrest in the Mideast.

The writer is an attorney-at-law and policy analyst based in Washington DC. He is the first Pakistani American member admitted to the US Supreme Court Bar.