Common Sense About the Syrian Mess
"I know what the world thinks of us, we are Communists, and of course I have said very clearly that we are not Communists; very clearly." --Fidel Castro, 1959
U.S. policy toward Syria has changed but it is too late. A senior State Department official said at the meeting just concluded of opposition groups: "We have to help the moderates, people like [Chief of Staff of the Free Syrian Army] Salim Idris….” This is what I proposed two years ago but I have to admit that I almost never saw anyone else who suggested that the strategy should be to help the non-Islamists with money, weapons, and diplomatic support.
Unlike Castro, the Islamists in Syria never lied about their goals and ideologies. Now the Islamists are far more powerful and well-armed than anyone else, courtesy of U.S. policy. Oh, and there's one more problem. Many or most of the Free Syrian Army's troops, that is the supposed non- or anti-Islamist alternative, are also Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
So what’s there to do with revolutionary Islamists controlling Syria and sooner or later, though it might take a couple of years, taking over the whole country or at least gaining recognition as the legitimate government of Syria while the regime holds out in the northwest of the country?
That’s okay, says the main line of U.S. policy. We don’t care if they are America-hating fanatics who want to impose Sharia, suppress or even massacre Christians, and commit genocide against Jews. Just as long as they aren’t affiliated with al-Qaida.
“Once Assad is gone, al-Qaeda won’t stay long in Syria.”
"We know that there are radical forces like [al-Qaida] but do not overestimate them.”
But it seems impossible to get the mainstream debate to recognize the fact that the problem is not merely al-Qaida but other radical Salafists and another Muslim Brotherhood government.
What kind of situation would another Egypt bring about in the Middle East?
hat will happen within Syria which historically is a far more radical entity (for historical, political culture, and geopolitical reasons) than Egypt?
What will be the fate of all those modern-oriented women, liberals, Alawites, Christians, Druze, and Kurds?
Going beyond the largely worthless current debate on Syria let's look ahead into the seemingly inevitable future. We can reasonably assume that the Assad regime might last another year or two but it will either retreat to the Alawite areas by then or have fallen totally. There is by the way another possibility. Rebels make advances in Damascus, then use the opportunity to announce the establishment of a provisional government there. The United States and other countries then recognize it--despite Assad's continuing hold on much of the country--as the legitimate government of Syria.
Whatever happens, there will be a Muslim Brotherhood regime in Syria and Obama will support it. The Salafis will not rule but they will kill people, intimidate non- or anti-Islamist forces, and probably be the main force in various local areas of the country.
If you are interested in reading more about Syria, you're welcome to read my book The Truth About Syria online or download it for free.