September 6, 2013

As U.S. Congress deliberate a possible strike on Syria, the question remains what effect if any, a strike on the Assad regime would have on the Syrian conflict? The Obama administration has said it intends to carry out a limited attack targeted to degrade the regime’s ability to attack its people with chemical weapons in the future.

Since the conflict began over 2 years ago, more than 100,000 Syrians including women and children have lost their lives. Over 1 million Syrians are refugees and nearly 40 percent of Syria a nation of 22 million is internally displaced according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

In a conflict that is now considered a full-blown civil war, there is no doubt a strike by the U.S. will only exacerbate the war. Many more will die as the regime embark on a desperate move to survive and though, a U.S. strike could weaken Assad’s ability to target the opposition, the effect will only be for a limited time.

Experts on war and the Syrian regime believe the Syrian government has moved its weapons to secret locations in anticipation of a U.S. strike. The regime is aware the opposition will seize the opportunity to attack immediately after an American strike and therefore, would lie in wait to mount an insurgency that could turn Syria into another Iraq or Afghanistan for decades. Syrian cities and towns would be drawn into an urban warfare and to keep up its hold on power, the regime could release prohibited weapons, to its most loyal fighters especially Hezbollah.

It is unclear what interest if any the U.S. has in an attack on the Assad regime. As long as Russia and China maintain their policy of no regime change in Syria, it will be impossible for the United States to unilaterally restore peace in the nation without drawing the U.S. military into an unnecessary war. History has shown that when a nation invades another without a global support, the invader owns the war, including the cost of rebuilding and maintaining peace.

This is not to say the U.S. as a superpower, has no obligation of saving innocent civilians when oppressed by a stubborn regime. In doing so, the U.S. must act reasonably to avoid losing credibility and purpose. An American involvement has no benefit if at the end of the day, it help bring to power another oppressive leadership. Many still question what the Syrian opposition represents as it has no definable organization. Among its members is Al-Qaeda operatives and other terrorist groups in the Middle East, which the U.S. has labeled and condemned.

It is clear Assad has lost legitimacy and will eventually cease to rule. However, by providing weapons for the opposition, the Obama administration took the risk that U.S. weapons might end up in terrorists’ hands. The U.S. military is still fighting Al-Qaeda, in a war that has lasted more than a decade and now with a looming attack on Syria, Hezbollah could join American enemies in a campaign of suicide attacks on U.S. interests abroad.

The result of a limited strike in Libya despite NATO’s support was the deaths of four Americans including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who got murdered in Benghazi after an attack on the U.S. embassy on September 12, 2012. It is undeniable a unilateral approach that lacks global support would have a devastating effect on U.S. economy and foreign policies.

Many believe it is weird to think the U.S. after helping to remove a Sunni leadership in Iraq, now supports a Sunni led opposition against Assad in Syria. An attack on Syria would be a war of choice, based on American principle and ideology. The notion that “when we say something other nations better believe it or they run the risk.”

Though President Obama tried to de-personalize the “red line” set over a year ago, his administration made a blunder by having one in place without a global consensus. Recently, the Secretary of State John Kerry, said inaction by the U.S. would set a wrong precedent to a violator that the U.S. does not mean what it says, making a possible attack on Syria look like a war of principle and ideology.

To end the Syrian conflict, the U.S. must withdraw the war plan. There are better ways of dealing with Assad without escalating the war already in place. Sanctions do help if properly targeted and does maintain its effect when all interested nations agree to its terms. The Obama administration must find a way to work with Russia and China to enable a common ground at the United Nations. Assad is done as a leader but for peace to reign in Syria, remnants of his regime must come to the table with the opposition for a coalition government in Syria.

Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ available at Follow on Twitter @san0670.




Categories: Current Affair, Foreign Affairs, War and Politics

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