It seems there is absolutely no way at this point that any good will emerge out of the horrific tragedy occurring now in Syria. As the two year war heats up again, it already has produced 80,000 fatalities, over 1 million war refugees, thousands more wounded; and there is no relief in sight. When the actual fighting ends, Syria, like many other places in the region, will have been ravaged and the entire region will only be further destabilized. The saddest fact is that at this moment there are no real solutions being advanced that might produce a halt to the fighting, let along a peace agreement.
1. For the U.S. there is a dream about a peace conference in Geneva but, unfortunately, there are no clear commitments from the belligerents to attend. In addition, Russia, the other so-called promoter of the conference is setting ground rules for the meetings which would guarantee nothing positive will emerge; even if everyone showed up.
2. Russia continues to supply weapons and material support to the Assad Government, refuses to join any U.N. effort to control the arms flow and intensify sanctions, and seemingly ignores the humanitarian tragedy that has befallen the Syrian people. (Russia’s behavior is reminiscent of the worse days of the former Soviet Union, where strategic goals involved perpetuating chaos including war.)
3. While the U.S. finds the humanitarian crisis totally unacceptable, President Obama has no effective military option which he seems prepared to pursue.
4. Syrian President Assad clearly has concluded that like his father in 1982, whose army killed at least 20,000 people in Hama, killing your own citizens is a totally acceptable way to govern Syria.
5. The Syrian opposition groups are divided along all types of political, religious, and military lines. The groups have an array of distinct loyalties with no apparent
military lines. The groups have an array of distinct loyalties with no apparent cohesive leadership.
6. Iranian and Hezbollah forces are engaged in support of the Government troops, are taking casualties, and will demand a Shiite victory.
7. The Saudis and the Gulf States are concerned about a Shiite takeover and are seeking to arm the Sunni majority, but do not want to engage Hezbollah or the Islamic rebels directly.
8. Lebanon could collapse from the internal fighting and/or if Syrian/Hezbollah attacks being waged against rebel forces in Syria spill across the border.
9. Turkey and Jordan already are over-run with refugees pouring across their borders. Both fear the influx of radicals could create an internal uprising within their own respective countries.
10. Israel understands no good will come out of the continued instability; not for its borders, security, or peace prospects. If anything, this instability will encourage a more militant stance to be adopted by the Palestinians.
Welcome to today’s Middle East!