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Syria
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Syria

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

There persists in the minds of many the question of why the West is relatively passive when it comes to dealing with the repressive behavior and murder being conducted by President Bashar al-Assad and his forces. The horrific reports of brutally murdering of women and children in Syria where death figures are now suggested to be near 7,000, do not seem to move the West to take united action. The failure of the mission of the Arab League to reduce hostilities while it was in the country suggests that they had reached their limit as to what the outside states could or would do

The Arab Governments realized how embarrassing it was to see Syria continue the random murdering of its own people. Unlike isolated states in Africa, for example, too much of the world knows about Syria. The Arab Governments acting through the Arab League sought to demonstrate that Arabs do care about human rights; as it turned out not enough to use force to create regime change. 

What the Arab League did, was it scored points in the eyes of the West without achieving results. It also made clear that unlike in the case of Libya where it countenanced Western intervention—largely because of the need to protect and secure the Libyan oil reserves—it would handle the problem in Syria itself. It opposed Western intervention against Assad, assuming the U.S. and its allies were even willing to do so.  As the Saudi’s stopped the U.S. in Desert Storm from continuing into Bagdad and overthrowing the Iraqi regime, so too now the Arab States were signaling the West there was no need (no oil) and no willingness for Western military engagement in Syria.

The behavior of Russia this week at the United Nations, as Syria was being condemned by the West and even by the Arab League was reminiscent of some of the worst behavior of the Soviet Union. The hand-wringing at the U.N. is fine, but it certainly will not stop the killing.

The battle there will have to take its course. Radical groups, extremist groups, religious fundamentalists now will all seek to push the Assad regime over. The Syrian people will need to solve their problems from within while Russia appears likely to either want to be the power broker or just to keep the Assad Government in control.

Israel needs to be wary and on alert, but probably does not have much with which to be concerned there, at least at the moment. Syria has largely been a quiet border for Israel for almost 40 years. Now, Syria cannot even use the blame Israel slogan to explain the events of the last 10 months.

So the killings go on and the world watches.

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