Tuesday, October 25

Promoting Regime Change in Syria

It would not be in Israel’s interests to interfere with the Bashar Assad regime in Syria. The US experience in Iraq and in Afghanistan should send out warning signals to the world as to the mess that the US is capable of making.

As ineffectual and autocratic as the Assad regime is in Syria, the alternative would be far worse. While it is true that Syria is harbouring terrorists, the situation has not reached uncontrollable proportions. While the Mehlis Report does lay the blame for Rafik Hariri’s assassination on the intrigues of the Assad regime, it still does not warrant US aided toppling of that regime.

The border between Israel and Syria is relatively quiet. If the US moves in militarily, this situation could easily change with suicide militias, car bomb squads and Al Qaeda terror cells becoming active and chaos would rein supreme. The violence could spill over into Israel and Lebanon. The actions of Hezbollah would be child’s play in comparison. Nothing good could come out of US military action in Syria. If there would be a united, progressive opposition to the Bashar Assad Ba’ath regime, perhaps these opposition groups could be aided by foreign powers to take over and it would be in US interests to play a low key in such a potential operation. The opposition to the Assad regime is composed of extremist Islamist groups whose potential for violence is far greater and its global ramifications for further instability in the Middle East cannot be ruled out. The US does not seem to learn from its past mistakes, she will bumble along leaving US soldiers behind in all the countries that she wishes to police in order to create a western-style democracy which is not part of Middle Eastern lexicon but is seen as a foreign, non-Moslem import.

Economic sanctions, authorized by the UN, would be the best tactic at this stage in the hope to cripple Syria economically thus forcing a positive regime change from within is the best tactic for the moment. Western-style democracy propped up by the US is naivety at its greatest and shows ignorance of the Arab psyche. US paternalism is not a desired commodity in the Middle East.

While there are some Syrian progressive opposition groups living in exile who do pay lip service to democratic change in Syria, there is no way of ascertaining their influence on the Syrian people. It would be premature at this stage to hold high expectations of the progressive Syrian opposition which could be an alternative to the oppressive Ba’ath regime. Perhaps a parallel situation did exist prior to the downfall of Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Today these opposition groups are marginal and it had no influence in the attempt to rebuild Iraq in the post Iraq era.

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