An Alliance with the United States is the Weakest Kind of Protection |
Al Hayat - 19 July, 2012
Author: Randa Takieddine
The murder, oppression and torture taking place in Syria, by a regime using all of its military tools against its people, and Iran's continuing development of its nuclear weapons, reveal a painful reality. There is weak assistance by the allies of the Syrian people – a number of Western and Arab states – to the Syrian people. Also, the P5+1 countries are weak as they negotiate with Iran in a bid to prompt it to halt its development of nuclear weapons.
The allies of the Syrian regime, namely Russia, Iran and Iraq, are strongly supporting a regime that kills its people and are enabling the regime to survive, while more than half of the world's countries want to see this regime disappear. Those who are negotiating with Iran are engaging in dialogue and allowing it to buy time and stall in the dialogue, so that it can develop nuclear weapons in the meantime. The Barack Obama administration has failed miserably in moving on the Syrian and Iran fronts forward.
What does the United States want in Syria? It reiterates that Bashar Assad must go, but does anyone believe that the US lacks the ability to pressure Russia, so that it does not use its veto? When President George Bush invaded Iraq it was opposed by France's President Jacques Chirac, who hinted at using his country's veto. However, this did not halt US intervention, and Bush toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein anyway.
But Iraq is not Syria. Iraq has the second biggest reserves of petroleum in the region and Saddam Hussein also threatened Israel. The situation in Syria is different. Perhaps the images of civilians and children who have been killed by the regime are stirring the American public, but the White House's interests in Syria are not threatened, and the deteriorating situation in the country also poses no threat to the US and Israel, in order for them to pressure Russia.
Perhaps France and Britain have bigger interests in the region; thus, the European Union is taking the lead, whether by receiving the Syrian opposition or trying to convince the Russians to change their veto policy, but to no avail.
Certainly, the allies of the Syrian opposition and people are much weaker than the friends of the regime, which have used repression in their own countries, in Russia or Iran. The same applies to the attempt by the West to confront Iran's development of nuclear weapons. The White House is afraid that Israel will conduct a military strike against Iran. It is rushing to verify that Netanyahu and his government team will not carry out a military strike that forces the US to intervene, prior to the presidential elections.
Some countries, such as Britain, are thinking about suspending this failed dialogue with Iran, but the White House is advising that it be continued, at least until the elections are over. Obama hoped that he would be able to normalize relations with Iran, if Tehran would agree. Everyone believes the notion that the priorities of the White House involve Iran, not Syria.
The conscience of American officials is clear as they ask Assad and his regime to go. As for how, and when, the administration suffices by resorting to sanctions. But Russia, Iran and Iraq are giving the Syrian regime what it needs to hang on, and survive.
The alliance with the US, and particularly with the Obama administration, does not secure protection or guarantees; instead, it often leads to dangers. The situation in Iraq is one example of this. Obama left Iraq and left it to the control of Iran, and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is providing the Syrian regime with what it needs, with a nod from his Iranian ally. The remarks by the Syrian ambassador to Iraq who defected are proof of this.
The situation now in Syria is different than what it was during its presence in Lebanon, because the US and its allies want Assad's regime to go, but verbally and through sanctions, and not by force. A number of western countries could have established a no-fly zone, without resorting to the United Nations Security Council. George H.W. Bush did this in Iraq, but President Obama is not ready for any military operation; the Syrian and Iranian regimes know this well and Russia is comfortable with protecting its ally Assad.
The end result is that relying on the Western ally, especially the US, represents a bigger burden than it is a guarantee, or protection. The Syrian people hope that the regime will fall and members of the Syrian Army realize that if they continue to kill their brothers it will rebound against them in the end, because killing and torture will only bring violence and more killing. A civil war would be a loss for all sides, particularly the regime. The brave Syrian activists must rely on themselves to battle the tyrants.