Sunday, September 1, 2013

Syria - just a mess....

As we move closer to a military strike on Syria, the complicated international crisis is going to get chaotic.

Syria is a nation that has endured the amount of political strife of a country more than twice its age. Following its independence from France in 1946, Syria fell into a pattern of political instability and military coups for the first few decades of its existence.

Syria got involved in the Arab-Israeli War in 1967, during which Syria and its Arab allies were defeated by Israeli forces. The conflict planted the seeds for future animosity to grow between the two countries, while giving way to the rise of nationalist sentiments and concentrated military power.

The Arab Spring erupted political uncertainty in the region in 2011 and eventually manifested in Syria as protesters rose in opposition of the reigning Baathist regime.

Dating back to 1947, the Baathist party has ruled Syria for the vast majority of the country's existence (50 years). The modern Ba'ath party is identified as a socialist movement and is currently led by Bashar al-Assad, who came to power after the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad.
The 2011 Arab Spring activism in Egypt and Tunisia inspired Syrian protesters to take to the streets in demonstrations against Assad's regime. Syrians voiced their unhappiness with the stagnant political process and were advocating for democratic reforms.

These protests did not go over well with the government, which responded with extreme measures including the kidnapping, torture and killing of protesters. Government troops began opening fire on civilians, who fired back in response.

Civilian rebel forces then began organizing and arming themselves to combat government violence, which led to government military powers destroying entire neighborhoods and towns. Combined, the rising tensions between the two groups created the current state of civil war.

Recent allegations of the government's chemical weapon use on civilians have prompted the international community to contemplate serious intervention, but that doesn't mean the conflict has been limited to the Syrian population exclusively.

The Syrian Civil War has huge implications for the state of international relations, and not just in the Middle East, but across the world and even within the United States.

On an international scale, the Syrian conflict creates a complicated diplomatic situation, especially in terms of Russian-American relations. As a long-term ally of the Syrian government, Russia has strong ties to the Assad regime and blocks the U.N. Security Council from allowing any foreign intervention against the current Syrian government without their blessing.

Essentially, if the U.S. wanted to get involved in current Syrian affairs (as the White House is saying it will do) it would need to do so without U.N. approval.

As Israel's strongest ally, the U.S. has pledged to defend Israel if the country is put under any kind of security threat.

This means that if the U.S. took any kind of military action in Syria, the Syrian government might retaliate with strikes against Israel, which could then propel the entire region into a much larger Middle Eastern conflict, potentially even drawing Iran into action.

The possibility of military action is under heavy scrutiny by members of Congress and White House officials alike, which creates some serious tensions given that Congress says it must approve the president's potential military plans.

That said, if history serves as any kind of reference, the president can bypass Congressional approval. Although the Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war, Congress has not formally done so since World War II. U.S. operations in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya were all conducted without any formal declaration of war.

 Both President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the current U.S. position on Syria. President Obama said he has "not made any decisions" on whether to launch a military strike on Syria, and assured the American public that if he does, it will be a "limited, narrow act."

In a more fiery response, Secretary Kerry argued in favor of punishing Syria, stating that a chemical attack by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad killed 1,429 people, including 426 children.

What will happen if the U.S. does intervene? 

U.S. intervention might lead to a much larger chain reaction in the Middle East, possibly involving Syrian allies like Hezbollah and Iran. In a direr situation, Syria could even launch attacks on Israel, a strong U.S. ally.

As of now, Congress is due to go into session and debate the issue on September 9th. An authorization to act could be in the Presidents hands within days. That presents another problem.

By that timeline it is entirely possible that the United States could be taking military action in the Middle East on the anniversary of 9/11 –a date when tensions are already on high.
In the meanwhile Assad knows that we will not act until Congress does, so he pretty much has a license to do whatever he wants, including using more chemical weapons while the world waits to see what President Obama will ultimatey decide to do.

Here's an idea:

Instead of firing a bunch of cruise missles at Syria, why not send in a team of Navy Seals and snatch Assad, take him to the Hauge and turn him over to the World Court to stand trial for war crimes?


Live Long and Prosper...

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