Jim Roche of IAWM on Syria...

Syria: what can be done? Five commentators discuss the merits of five ways in which the outside world could respond to Syria's c

Syria: what can be done?
Five commentators discuss the merits of five ways in which the outside world could respond to Syria's crisis

Abdel Bari Atwan, Michael Weiss, Seumas Milne, Shashank Joshi and Mehdi Hasan, Friday 10 February 2012 10.30 GMT

1. Full-scale military intervention?

Abdel Bari Atwan I am opposed to military intervention by the west. Syria is not Libya, the army is well-armed and equipped with sophisticated weaponry. We would witness catastrophic civilian casualties. We have already seen the disasters caused by such intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, the dangers of an internationalisation of the conflict are too great, with Russia, Iran and possibly China standing with Syria and Hezbollah against Nato and Israel. Such action would need a UN resolution which is clearly not forthcoming given Russia and China vetoed the last attempt to condemn Assad.

Michael Weiss A "full-scale intervention" needs to be properly defined first. Does that mean a US ground assault into Damascus? Occupation? Frankly, I don't know anyone in the pro-intervention camp who advocates such a plan. However, we should be clear about the aim of any use of force in Syria at this stage: this will only end with the removal of Bashar al-Assad from power, as that is now the stated policy of western governments, Turkey and the Arab League.

Seumas Milne A direct invasion of Syria to topple the regime would be another disaster on the Iraq or Afghanistan model, lead to a catastrophic loss of life, trigger a long-running guerrilla war, draw in armed groups from neighbouring states and Iran against another western military occupation of an Arab, Muslim state. Fortunately, there is currently no significant support for such a course.

Western intervention in Syria won't work, so what's to be done to stop the killing?

Western intervention in Syria won't work, so what's to be done to stop the killing?

09 February 2012 Mehdi Hasan Middle East and North Africa

Whether we like it or not, it is incumbent upon those of us who are instinctively opposed to western military interventions in the Middle East to answer the question: what would you do to stop Assad?
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By Mehdi Hasan
New Statesman
9 February 2012

How do we stop the ongoing killings in Syria? It is an urgent and important question but one that defies a simple or easy answer.

Let's be clear: Syria is a human rights disaster. The revolution's death toll now exceeds 6,000 and thousands of others have been "disappeared" into the country's mini-gulags, to be tortured and starved. Syria's third-biggest city, Homs, is under daily bombardment from shells, mortars and machine-gun fire.

The images of the dead and maimed on our television screens are appalling. So what should be done to stop Bashar al-Assad's killing machine? Is it time to despatch the B-52s? Arm the opposition? Impose a no-fly zone?
That's where the discussion in western capitals and on our newspaper comment pages seems to be increasingly heading.

If only such military options were of any use. I abhor the cynicism and despotism of the Ba'athist regime in Damascus; I want Assad out - as all democrats and internationalists should. But foreign intervention isn't the way. Syria isn't Libya.

The latter is a nation of six and a half million people, while the former consists of more than 20 million. Unlike Libya, Syria's densely populated cities and towns are a mix of ethnic and religious communities; the country cannot be spliced into pro-rebel east and pro-dictator west. Dropping bombs from 5,000 feet would guarantee civilian casualties and rally some anti-Assad Syrians behind the regime.

The proxy war against Iran being fought by the US and Nato in Syria - 08 February 2012 Seumas Milne, THE GUARDIAN.

The proxy war against Iran being fought by the US and Nato in Syria
08 February 2012 Seumas Milne Middle East and North Africa

Western intervention in Syria – and Russia and China's opposition to it – can only be understood as part of a proxy war against Iran, which disastrously threatens to become a direct one.

By Seumas Milne
The Guardian
7 February 2012

There is no limit, it seems, to the blood price Arabs have to pay for their "spring".

After the carnage in Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain and Libya, Syria's 11-month-old uprising grows ever more gruesome.

Four days of bombardment of rebel-controlled districts in the Syrian city of Homs have yielded horrific images and reports from the embattled Bab al-Amr opposition stronghold: of mosques full of corpses, streets strewn with body parts, residential areas reduced to rubble.

Television footage broadcast in the Arab world is still more graphic, and the impact convulsive.

Whatever the arguments about the number of dead on either side, the scale of human suffering is unmistakable – and comes after almost a year of continuous bloodletting, torture and sectarian revenge attacks.

So when Russia and China vetoed Saturday's western-sponsored UN resolution condemning Bashar al-Assad's regime, requiring his troops to return to barracks and backing an Arab League plan for him to be replaced, US and British leaders and their allies, echoed by the western media, felt able to denounce it as a "disgusting" and "shameful" act of betrayal of Syrians.

The Reality Behind the Coming "Regime Change" in Syria

The Reality Behind the Coming "Regime Change" in Syria
By Shamus Cooke
January 25, 2012 "Information Clearing House" ---  After meeting again to decide Syria's fate, the Arab League again decided to extend its "monitoring mission" in Syria. However, some Arab League nations under U.S. diplomatic control are clamoring for blood. These countries — virtual sock puppets of U.S. foreign policy — want to declare the Arab League monitoring mission "a failure,” so that military intervention — in the form of a no fly zone — can be used for regime change.   

The United States appears to be using a strategy in Syria that it has perfected over the years, having succeeded most recently in Libya: arming small paramilitary groups loyal to U.S. interests that claim to speak for the native population; these militants then attack the targeted government the U.S. would like to see overthrown — including terrorist bombings — and when the attacked government defends itself, the U.S. cries "genocide" or "mass murder,” while calling for foreign military intervention.

Most Syrians back President Assad, but you'd never know from western media

Most Syrians back President Assad, but you'd never know from western media

Assad's popularity, Arab League observers, US military involvement: all distorted in the west's propaganda war

Pro-Assad demonstration

A demonstration in support of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, in Damascus. 'Some 55% of Syrians want Assad to stay, motivated by fear of civil war.' Photograph: Hussein Malla/AP

Suppose a respectable opinion poll found that most Syrians are in favour of Bashar al-Assad remaining as president, would that not be major news? Especially as the finding would go against the dominant narrative about the Syrian crisis, and the media considers the unexpected more newsworthy than the obvious.

Alas, not in every case. When coverage of an unfolding drama ceases to be fair and turns into a propaganda weapon, inconvenient facts get suppressed. So it is with the results of a recent YouGov Siraj poll on Syria commissioned by The Doha Debates, funded by the Qatar Foundation. Qatar's royal family has taken one of the most hawkish lines against Assad – the emir has just called for Arab troops to intervene – so it was good that The Doha Debates published the poll on its website. The pity is that it was ignored by almost all media outlets in every western country whose government has called for Assad to go.

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