Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Words on Syria.
The Syrian civil war has become increasingly complicated since it began more than 30 months ago. The Syrian people saw the "Arab Spring" sweeping through the Middle East and North Africa and finally decided that they were tired of the decades long, oppressive rule of the Assad family. The people began to demonstrate and Assad responded with gunfire from attack helicopters he had received from Russia. This threw Syria into a revolt, a full scale civil war.
At first glance, this matter seems simple. However, today there are more than 1,200 rebel groups fighting against the Syrian regime, totaling between 70,000 and 100,000 fighters. By US federal government estimates, between 15% and 25% of those groups are considered to be militant jihadist organizations. Other estimates go as high as 80%, with some so called "experts" stating that the non-extremist fighter groups have been completely annihilated. Some of these extremist groups have aligned themselves with Al Qaeda, a major Syrian rebel group called "Al Nusra" being just one example.
Russia has been involved in this conflict on the side of the Assad regime since day one. They've been supplying weapons, equipment, training and advice from the start. The US government has only recently decided to get involved in this conflict on the side of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), whoever that is. The FSA is fragmented and the fighters fall under many different flags. Once again, one of those flags is the flag of Al Qaeda. The US government has reluctantly agreed to get involved by sending weapons to the rebels, though no one is really sure if those weapons have been sent yet.
Months ago, President Obama made a statement during which he stated that he was drawing a "red line" for Assad, saying that the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people would bring "consequences". He has since claimed that he did not draw any line, but that "the world" drew the red line instead. The first time Assad used chemical weapons, Obama seemed to deny, or perhaps ignore, this crossing of his "red line". When Assad crossed this line again on a larger scale, Obama was forced to take action to save his ego.
Now we see members of Congress debating each other on what action to take against Syria. Obama first stated that he didn't need Congress for him to take action, but he has now asked Congress for approval. It's my opinion that Obama has basically painted himself into a corner with his "red line" comment, and asking Congressional approval is his last resort for getting himself out of that corner. If Congress disapproves, Obama will certainly blame Congress for inaction and will certainly lay most of that blame on the Republican Party, as he has done every time one of his actions yields poor results. If Congress approves military action, Obama will not have to go down alone with his ship, and he can displace blame for any negative effects.
I don't see what military action is supposed to achieve. It has already been decided that regime change is not the goal, nor will strikes against chemical weapon storage sites be the goal.
One option, firing Tomahawk cruise missiles against select targets in Syria for a short, predetermined time period, will have little to no effect on the ground situation in Syria. Another option is "boots on the ground". This option has been ruled out, however. Air strikes are another option on the table, but unless these air strikes are conducted on a large scale, this option won't yield results any different than Tomahawk missile strikes.
I simply don't understand the goal of military action against Syria. We simply have not been given a goal. The only thing we are told is that it will be "limited" and "narrow" and that it will take place for only a short period of time and target only a few specific locations, not include locations where Assad or major regime members will be and not to target places where chemical weapons may be located. Given this information, it is obvious that an attack of this nature will have no effect whatsoever on the situation in Syria.
While I do not support the Assad regime, I also do not support the militant jihadist rebel groups either. We fought against many of these Syrian rebels in Iraq in recent years.
It's clear to me that the goal of the White House is to protect Obama from criticism. Every move they make on the Syria situation shows that everything they do is a show to gain support for Obama in order for the Democratic Party to do well in the next round of elections.