I was watching a news/commentary program on TV this morning while making my breakfast in the Middle East where I am on business. I have the benefit here of watching Arab commentary as well as US commentary (I am able to stream MSNBC and CNN on my computer).
It now appears that President Obama has decided that a U.S. Strike on Syria is a real likelihood. Not all the countries friendly to the U.S. in the Middle East are supporting that decision.
The Saudis are firmly on the side of U.S. military action in Syria. Why? Well there are a few reasons. One of those reasons is because the people in power in Syria are Alollite Muslims who relate closely to Shia Muslims. The Saudis are Sunni Muslims. All Saudis are Sunni Muslims. So it kind of makes sense that they want whatever will harm the Shia Muslims with whom they do not agree on almost anything. Syria also supports Hezbollah and Hamas, also Shia Muslims. Iran, also a friend to Syria, is a Shia nation. The point I am making here is that without exception the struggles in the Middle East are all related to Islam to one extent or another. Qatar, a friend of Saudi Arabia, has a great deal to gain by the overthrow of Assad and the Russian influence which restricts Qatar’s gas expansion into Europe.
Syria’s leaders have allegedly used Chemical weapons on their own people, much as Saddam Hussein did to his own people in Iraq. (With gas sold to him by the USA). Using Chemical weapons is in violation of international treaties and laws. Consequently if Syria has used chemical weapons, there needs to be some punitive measure to ensure they do not do it again and clearly understand and appreciate the ramifications of using chemical weapons. So I asked myself;
Why would Assad use chemical weapons, knowing it would cause international intervention, when the Assad government is winning the civil war in Syria?
Is it the role of the United States of America to deliver that punitive measure? If so; Why?
Is a military response to an international Treaty violation which resulted in the killing of 1,400 innocent women and children the right response?
Who had the most to gain from the use of Chemical weapons in Syria?
Is killing more people an appropriate response to the killing of people?
Saudi Arabia is the powerhouse in the region who possess more than enough military capability to deliver punitive action against neighboring Syria which Syria would not be able to respond to effectively. Among the Middle East States Saudi Arabia and Syria are not friends. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has already been sending arms, food and equipment in mass quantities to the rebel forces fighting Assad. In essence the Saudis and America are ensuring the rebel forces have what they need to keep the fight going forward although many of the rebels are jihadist who basically hate America and , given the right circumstance, would turn those U.S. provided weapons against U.S. forces. It happened in Iraq and continues to happen in Afghanistan. Of the factions fighting in Syria today, there is not one who would openly align itself with the United States if they prevail in Syria. No Islamist is going to align itself with the United States. Saudi Arabia, who does have a close relationship with the United States, also supports and equips many jihadist groups throughout the world.
Turkey is also a powerful nation militarily and could easily deliver punishment to Syria’s Assad regime for killing civilians with Chemical weapons. The Turkish people however are foursquare against being the country who delivers the military message to Assad’s Syria. They want to cheer on America as we deliver the blows. Iraq is allowing Shia fighters to cross into Syria at will; and why not? Syria allowed over a hundred thousand Iraqi refugees to find refuge from war in Syria and Assad did all he could to house them and feed them.
We can’t allow Israel to deliver a punitive blow to Assad’s regime because that would bring Sunni and Shia, who equally hate Israel, together to wage war against Israel. (Assad would love that to happen) and America would end up defending Israel at a cost of American blood and treasure (mostly blood) which would be so great as to be unimaginable. We can’t let Israel get involved at all.
The President of the United States has indicated that he intends to deliver the punitive action to Syria which no other country will sign up for. One thousand four hundred innocent civilians were killed whose only crime was living in a city that does not support the Assad regime in the bloody civil war now raging in that country. Some say; “Whats the big deal? One hundred thousand people have already lost their lives in the Syrian civil war. One thousand four hundred is just a drop in the killing bucket in Syria”, and that is true. Many more people have been killed by bullets and bombs in Syria than saran gas did in Syria. That point creates another dilemma for justifying a military action against Assad. We have stood by and watch Assad slaughter his people for some time now and have done little more than send a few rifles to the rebels who have done pretty despicable killing themselves. Wasn’t there a moral imperative to stop the slaughter long ago?
The existing treaties, regarding war, forbid the use of chemicals of any kind notwithstanding, one day, in an already war ravaged country, a sort of rain drifted from the sky and fell on children playing on the street, mothers standing in their kitchens making a meal, teenagers trying to get a car’s engine to run and bakers concerned with getting enough bread made for the next morning’s customers. It fell on babies in their cribs and grandparents hoping for an end to the struggle which has killed so many of their countries youth. The chemical rain fell on the makeshift schools filled with children who had nothing more on their mind than playing outside during the next recess time, not realizing that they were only minutes away from an excruciating and slow death. That rain was in all likelihood sent by their President Bashar Al Assad. I will not try to describe the pains of their experience which took their lives, least I begin to cry at this laptop in front of me. It was horrifying and that is enough to know.
There is a sense of cowardice that pervades the people in the Middle East with the exception of those living in the West Bank, Golan Heights and Gaza Strip areas of Palestine who are born fighting and struggling for their own freedom. A feudal struggle which has only brought them pain, misery, poverty and death. Nevertheless they continue their struggle to establish self-rule as a sovereign state.
That sounds noble, but it’s not. The poor innocent civilians of Palestine who have no choice in their cowardly leaders struggle are the perennial victims of an almost hopeless vision of their hardline leaders to destroy Israel. A vision which has brought them decades of destruction, death and apartied existence while Middle East countries use them as pawns in a rhetorical war with Isreal. It is heartbreaking to see these people, sentenced to more decades of praising those who blow themselves up in an effort to affect Israelis which then has the justification to tighten the noose on an already unhappy and depressing existence. Their struggle, however hopeless and unnecessary nevertheless expresses a courage not seen anywhere else in the Middle East. Renouncing violence as a tool to gain their statehood would bring them closer to that state of existence faster than anything else, but that will never happen.
The Palestinian leaders are heavily vested in violent struggle. They need it so they have something to blame their utter failure to lead on.
It takes courage to lead. It takes strength of character to stop trading in blood. Like the Palestinian leadership who joyfully watch the misery of their followers, so to the other leaders in the Middle East remain unwilling to lead, sacrifice and risk for a brighter and productive future in the Middle East. That reluctance to lead and risk some failure is what creates the Syria’s and the Iraq’s in the region.
America’s willingness to step in uninvited as though it were the ultimate arbitrator is what keeps the Middle East unable and unwilling to solve their own problems.
My message to President Obama and to the U.S. Congress; If you decide to go it alone and militarily punish Baser Assad for allegedly gassing his own people, I will, as an opposition voice, stand with my government, but you will be wrong in your decision to initiate war against Syria nevertheless.
Mr. President, I am asking that you sit down with Russia, enter consultations with the new Iranian leadership, talk to Iraq, Assad’s neighbor and bring the force of international condemnation and sanctions, perhaps even a type of blockade, against Syria. Or even charging Assad with Crimes against humanity at the International Court in The Hague.
If you are able to do that and Assad persist in thumbing his nose at the world while his people suffer, then increase substantially the aid the U.S. already provides to the rebels trying to over throw him, but be prepared upon their victory, to be utterly rejected by them and even threatened with war if you continue to mettle in their affairs and plans which will include the destruction of Israel as is the mantra of all Islamic states. Accepting that probable outcome must be part and parcel of your expectations.
I would hope that we learned that in Iraq and Afghanistan as well. We should know by now that in the case of the Middle East, War is not the answer, but is the choice they, in the Middle East, have made. Sometimes war is the only way to settle a dispute between enemies, but war is the very worst method of containment, settling disputes, or changing regimes.
Lastly I am the father of three veteran sons. Two of whom are combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan wars. One of my sons was critically wounded in Battle in Baqubah Iraq in 2006. Another son, my youngest, spent a total of 40 months in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thank God he was not physically injured, but being a Vietnam Veteran myself and having spent almost four years in Iraq as a civilian, I know the scars that can occur mentally are as serious as some of the physical injuries. An expansion of a US incursion into Syria will most certainly include U.S. Troops on the ground in Syria. The American people are not prepared for that Mr. President. We are war weary and we have seen the futility of U.S. involvement and investment in Middle East disputes. Please consider carefully your decision to engage U.S. Military might into the Syria Civil War. I fear the outcome you hope for has never really been any of the realistic probabilities and the U.S. will have a third failed war which also will have costs us everything and taught us nothing.
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