Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Ideal Syria Solution Requires a Time Machine

Is arming a rebel army in Syria a bad idea? Not if you either want to defeat Assad and the jihadis or if you want to end the death toll.

There is news that the British are thinking of arming more acceptable Syrian rebels. This writer thinks it is a mistake:

The last thing Syria and the rest of the Middle East needs at the moment is more guns and militiamen. To my mind that is simply a recipe for disaster.

Rather than pushing for military intervention, perhaps our ministers would have been better employed trying to put pressure on the warring parties to agree a ceasefire, and bring to an end the murderous cycle of violence that has so far killed in excess of 120,000 people.

Keep in mind that this requires you to believe that a Syrian civil war with Assad and the jihadis well armed and over 160,000 dead (perhaps the writer isn't counting government casualties) is not a recipe for disaster.

Somebody is going to win this civil war. And people will die on the way to that outcome. The question is who do we want to win and not some notion that if we "put pressure" on all sides that they'll agree to a ceasefire.

Would Assad agree to a ceasefire? Would ISIL (ISIS) or other jihadis?

And what if we could get a ceasefire?

That just ratifies Assad's rule in the west where he can still host a Russian naval base, destabilize Lebanon and help Hezbollah threaten Israel, and directly face Israel on their common border.

And it ratifies ISIL's control of eastern Syria, which gives ISIL a safe haven to focus on the Iraq front.

And al Qaeda jihadis will remain standing in the areas they hold.

Could the non-jihadi rebels survive such a ceasefire if they are the one side without significant support?

In the end, a ceasefire would just be a chance to rest, reorganize, and rearm. And if we get a ceasefire as an alternative to arming acceptable rebels, the sides that resume fighting will be Assad, ISIL, and the other jihadis. The non-jihadi rebels will fade away by going home, fleeing Syria, or joining the jihadi rebels who will fight Assad.

If your only objective is to limit the casualties, you should have either backed the rebels early when Assad was weak or even earlier backed Assad in inflicting a rapid slaughter of 10,000 protesters and hostile civilians in an effort to shock the protesters into giving up before it escalated to rebellion.

The disaster ship has sailed. The question now is who wins? Staying out just increases the odds that the very worst will emerge victorious.