Syria: How Much Worse Can It Become?

Syria: How Much Worse Can It Become?

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


Why is it when I hear UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Anan extend himself to admit he is “shocked and appalled” at the human tragedy that apparently has just occurred in the Syrian town of Tremseh, I feel that Claude Rains in Casablanca exhibited more sincerity that there was gambling going on in Rick’s Café.  The charade of the U.N. trying to control the uncontrollable without the use of force is ludicrous. There apparently is no end to the human tragedy that is continuing in Syria nor the world’s inability to stop it. While details are still sketchy and unconfirmed the bloodbath continues unabated with Tremseh possibly one of the ugliest.

While sanctions will not remove Assad from power, it appears that even renewing the U.N. Mission in Syria due to expire on July 20 can do little to affect the slaughter which has already claimed reportedly over 16,000 lives. With respect to Security Council action, the Russians have made it clear so far that they would veto a Security Council resolution to impose sanctions against Syria.

It seems clear that only a putsch or assassination is likely to remove Assad from power and bring about at least a cessation of the killing. The Arab League and its individual members continue to remain unwilling to bring force into play against the Assad Government for fear, no doubt, that some of their own regimes may come under a similar threat of force, should there be an internal regime challenge forthcoming within their own country in the days ahead. For the West to enter with force might resolve the immediate problem in Syria but it would probably precipitate—in all likelihood–a dramatic, hostile reaction against the West throughout the Arab world.

The most alarming news from Syria is not only the human tragedy in Tremseh but reports now released by the Wall Street Journal that Syria has finally started to move its chemical and possibly biological weapons. If indeed these intelligence reports are correct and the Assad Government proposes to now employ them against the rebel forces, the escalation in Syria may well force Western action, or—given the potential danger to its own population—unilateral action by Israel.

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