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SYRIA: United States Intended Military Intervention Raises more Questions than Solutions

Paper No. 5556                                         Dated 10-Sept-2013

By Dr Subhash Kapila

United States obsession with military interventions earlier in the Middle East and now in Syria was covered in my last Paper.

In the past week, what is noticeable is that while US Forces have been prepositioned for strikes on Syria for alleged use of chemical weapons in the on-going civil war, the US President has yet not been able to muster US domestic political support nor appreciable global support for US military intervention plans against Syria.

This contextual backdrop raises more questions on the credibility of United States true intentions and makes suspect the US claims of use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime than the US would have others to believe.

There are many media claims that the use of chemical weapons in Syria seem to have been stage-managed by the US-aided Syrian rebels to force a US military intervention in Syria. The United States has not been able to provide irrefutable evidence that it was the Assad regime only that resorted to chemical warfare against its own people.

Other media reports assert that the United States would in effect by indulging in a military intervention against Syria would be providing ‘air force cover to the Al Qaeda’ who is actively engaged with the Syrian rebels against the Damascus regime.

Reverting back to the lack of US domestic political support for a US intervention in Syria what is apparent is that despite some hectic canvassing for political support including a public television address by President Obama, there is much political and public opposition against the intended military intervention against Syria.

To dispel fears within the United States that the United States may again be drawn into a military quagmire like in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US President advanced the plea that the United States military intervention in Syria would in effect be a ‘limited war’ intervention both in terms of time and space and that the United States has no intentions to commit ‘boots on the ground’.

This intended plan raises more questions than solutions. Does the United States asses that use of ‘shock and awe’ aerial bombardment strikes coupled with cruise missiles strikes would bring about a collapse of the Assad regime?

Afghanistan and Iraq are historical examples of US military interventions would indicate otherwise. Also senior US political leaders have raised a pertinent question that even while admitting that the Assad regime is tyrannical what guarantees the United Stes have that a follow-up Syrian rebel’s regime backed by Al Qaeda and Islamist elements is not less tyrannical?

Then why is the United States contemplating military action against Syria Has the Assad regime threatened the security of the United States in any way which merits a US ‘limited war’ operation?

Coming to global reactions on US intended military intervention against Syria, two significant factors draw attention. Firstly, the United States is chary of going to the UN Security Council for seeking UN cover for its military plans. Secondly, other than the Arab League dominated by Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich Arab monarchical regimes and a handful of other countries there is no widespread support for the US intended military intervention against Syria.

From amongst the UN Security Council members, only the US and France support such a move. United States most vaunted ally, the United Kingdom Parliament, has voted against any UK involvement in any US military intervention. Russia and China have forcefully made known their opposition.

Many in the media have expressed worries that the United States obsession to get involved in Middle East sectarian conflicts with questionable military interventions with dubious intentions which serve no US national security interest carries the dangers of inviting Islamist retribution in some form or the other.

In the instant case also fears are being expressed that US unilateral military intervention in Syria could lead to an asymmetric fallout not only from Syria and its friends in the region but also worldwide.

The United States other than proposing miliatryintervention in Syria and canvassing support for it has not come out with any credible possible political solutions for the civil war in Syria. This by itself indicates significantly that United States intentions on Syria are suspect and has nothing to do with any humanitarian intentions.

The US and regional powers in the Middle East allied to the United States have a single-point agenda and that is to downsize Iran by targeting Syria and affecting a regime change in Damascus  which could fragment the Shia Crescent in the Northern Tier of the Middle East.

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