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SYRIA: United States Obsession with Military Intervention Wars

Paper No. 5553                                          Dated 03-Sept-2013

By Dr. Subhash Kapila

Greater South West Asia has yet to recover from two American military intervention wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and it seems that the United States stands impatiently poised to militarily intervene in Syria. Syria stands engulfed in a civil war contrived, financed and manipulated by the United States and goaded by the Arab oil-rich monarchical regimes of Saudi Arabia and curiously Qatar.

To assert that the United States and the West is ready to militarily intervene in Syria on grounds of humanitarian intervention or abhorrence for the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Damascus regime is a sheer travesty of truth and ground realities.

In at least two Papers of mine in the recent past, when the confrontation in Syria was being whipped up into giving it a civil war mode by external forces, I had observed that the real reason for doing so was the United States strategic intentions to disrupt the evolving ‘Shia Crescent’ in the Northern Tier of the Middle East.

Syria closely allied to Iran and the Hezbollah in Lebanon, besides strong political and strategic influence in Lebanon, brought the ire of the United States and the West.

Syria was also caught up in the Middle East regional power tussle between major powers like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran. Iran was being militarily feared by both Saudi Arabia and Turkey who find it unpalatable that Iran ultimately because of its geostrategic location and natural attributes of power could ultimately emerge as the predominant power of the Middle East.

Israel with considerable hold over US domestic politics and United States strategic decision-making in the Middle East and as an implacable foe of Iran completes the overall picture as to why Iran must be militarily downsized and its emergence as the predominant power in the Middle East is pre-empted.

It needs to be noted that the emergence of a potent Shia Crescent in the Northern Tier of the Middle East figures heavily as a threat perception in Israeli strategic calculus.

Globally, it needs to be noted that the so-called Syrian Civil War provoked and impelled by external forces, stands transformed today from a domestic political tussle into a wider Islamic sectarian war between Islamist Sunni oil-rich regimes rich enough to bankroll regime changes wars and the Shia Crescent countries.

Al Qaeda operatives are being funnelled against the Damascus regime as per media reports as was earlier being done in Iraq post-Gulf War II. This would draw-in the Shia armed militias operating in Lebanon into Syria to assist the externally besieged Syrian regime.

This brief contextual backdrop should highlight the quagmire into which the United States and the West would be walking into should they decide to militarily intervene in Syria in favour of the Syrian rebel forces created to effect a regime-change in Damascus.

The United States and the West cannot side-step from the stiff opposition being offered by Russia and China against any US-led military intervention in Syria.

The United States also needs to seriously ponder over the strategic consequences of yet another militarily intervention in the Middle East destined for ultimate failure. The United States would be seriously distracted from its Strategic Pivot to the Asia Pacific. The United States will also not find any Western takers for out-sourcing the Syrian military intervention like it resorted to in Libya.

As far as regional players like Saudi Arabia and Qatar obsessed with a regime-change in Syria are concerned what is being overlooked is that with their vaults overflowing with petro-dollars they could have effected a regime change in Syria with these financial reserves through use of Islamist groups. The fact that it has not taken place is indicative that in their calculations is the fact that the Syrian majority may be still with the Damascus regime and any Islamist rebellion would not succeed.

Also cannot be ignored is the fact that stiff domestic political opposition exists in the United States and the West against any US-led military intervention against Syria.

The United States has a greater strategic call on giving substantial shape to its Strategic Pivot to Asia Pacific and catering to the brewing threat to evict American presence from East Asia more specifically, than to effect regime changes in the Middle East on specious grounds.

It does not befit the majesty of United States as a Superpower to strategically downsize Iran through a military intervention against Syria on specious grounds. Perceptionaly, the United States seems to have adopted a Strategy of Indirect Approach for a military intervention against Syria whereas the real intended target is Iran.

 (Dr. Subhash Kapila is the Consultant, International Relations & Strategic Affairs, South Asia Analysis Group.  He can be reached at