The Obama administration’s efforts in the Middle East appear to be ending in a series of dead ends. Take Syria.
A recent Pew research survey found little optimism for the outcome of the ‘Arab Spring’ in that country. Ninety five percent of Lebanese, 80% of Jordanians and 60% of Turks were concerned the war there would spread to their own countries. Or if not, then to some other country at the least. Eighty nine percent of Tunisians, 79% of Jordanians, 78% of Israelis, 77% of Egyptians and 74% of Palestinians believe conflict will cross the border into some other country.
Nor is there much optimism that the leaders from behind can steer the wreck. The survey shows only a small margin of support for Western aid to Syrian rebels. Even Arab support for the rebels is weak.
Only the Jordanians (65%) and Lebanese Sunnis (63%) back Arabs arming the rebels. Nearly all the Shia (97%) surveyed in Lebanon are opposed to such outside intervention.
At the same time, there is no public support in the United States, Western Europe or in Turkey for sending arms and military supplies to the anti-government groups in Syria. Eight-in-ten (82%) Germans oppose such assistance, as do more than two-thirds of the French (69%) and the Turks (65%) and a majority of the British (57%). Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans were also against arming the rebels when the survey was taken in the first two weeks of March.
Invoking the threat of chemical weapons increases public support for intervention, but by surprisingly little. Pew says “since then evidence has emerged that the Assad government may have used chemical weapons in its fight against opposition forces. In a subsequent Pew Research Center poll taken April 25-28, Americans, by a 45% to 31% margin, favor rather than oppose the U.S. and its allies taking military action against Syria, if it is confirmed that Syria used chemical weapons against anti-government groups.”
But if the rebels are not particularly loved, Assad is deeply hated, the survey found. To a surprising extent the region seems to share the Kissingerian hope that it would be best if both sides could lose.