Stymied Over Syria

Stymied Over Syria

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

The growing bloodbath in Syria is only matched by the persistent inability of the world to develop a way to reduce or eliminate it. The horror spreads throughout the country with no end in sight. Sympathetic and concerned journalists as well as humanitarians and human rights activists throughout the world bemoan the suffering, but no one has yet developed a plan that can bring it to an end; other than, perhaps, assassinating President Assad. Voices of optimism for a better future abound, but probably are mere dreams in the minds of the writers.

Assad himself will not nor cannot tolerate a democratic system with participation from rival factions.  Sadly, the best scenario to reduce the suffering is for the West and the Arab League to find a way to bring Syria back to the status quo ante. There remain no signs that in any of the countries affected by the Arab Spring is there a realistic movement succeeding to create a secular, liberal democracy.

Elimination of the violence and stabilization of the regime might be the best that the West can expect, despite desires to the contrary and Tom Friedman’s wishful thinking notwithstanding. Unfortunately, he is more likely to see Hama Rules now becoming Syria Rules, rather than the rosy picture he would like to paint.

The one possible positive outcome might be if Hizbollah and some of the more radical Muslim groups become uncomfortable in Syria as Hamas apparently has already. If Iranian influence could be reduced than that too would be positive. On the other hand, if indeed Al-Qaeda-Iraq does succeed in gaining influence or if the Muslim Brotherhood can assert power over the disillusioned rebels, the Assad regime’s Russian and Chinese friends will not be happy. Only an even more repressive police state then will be able to stay in power.

For Israel and the West, none of these scenarios are very pretty.


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