Short Comment on Syria Is not Iraq.

136458_600-515x337OBSERVER, one of my favorite commenters on SC posted a link to an article in the Atlantic blog titled Syria is Not Iraq by Shadi Hamid. Observer asked for feedback from fellow commenters. I have not commented on the site for a long time, but I still read SC (with  more frequent disgusts than ever) and I have a few words to say about the article.

I do agree with much of what Shadi Hamid wrote. would add that from national security perspective Obama bungled it. Two critical observations made by Shadi that are worth considering. The first is the number of strategic mistakes that the US has committed since the debacle in Iraq, which as expressed by Shadi will come back to haunt us later.

Four years ago, I would have been,and likely I was, supportive of Obama’s calculating approach to foreign policy as a welcomed contrast to Bush’s dogmatic approach. But even before the Arab spring, the writings on the wall was becoming clear about Iran’s belligerence in Iraq and its usurpation of the country as a protectorate run with the same backward corrupt approach that afflicts Iran. This should have caused Obama and his administration to send a real strong message to Iran regarding Iraq instead of allowing Iran even a stronger hand in the country’s affairs. The haste to get out of Iraq and to get Bush debacle behind us and as soon as possible  resulted in dismissing  more strategic calculations regarding the region as a whole.

The other observation, which should be modified is his observation that Assad is a rational decision makers with incredibly high tolerance for brutality. The author ascribes the gradual increase in violence to Assad’s rational behavior as he kept testing the red-lines and finding that non really existed. This is only partially true. But it does not make Assad  a rational decision maker. The rational decision (morality does not get in the picture here) would have made him maximize his benefit, which would have happened had the he embarked on real reform and not chosen the suicidal security option. As for the gradual increase in violence, it is really strange that an article analytically sound as this one neglected to recognize that the Assad his henchmen are not the only actors on the scene in the sense that FSA has made it very hard for him, if not impossible, to commit massacres at the scale of Hama (in short period of time) and that the increased level of violence is proportional to the weakness of the regime in key points. Of course, that may disappoint to some of the repulsive voices I have been reading on SC, but it should not have escaped the writer, nonetheless.

That said, what remain is a real challenge for the US and other democratic countries in the world. It is the moral challenge posed by their role in encouraging democratic values, but failing to act when the values they encourage are threatened by murderous thugs like Assad and his henchmen. I am afraid this moral dilemma may end up being resolved with a couple of candle-light vigils attended by celebrities,  a few mea-culpa (we should have intervened) rehash of Rwanda  interviews on Operah’s Third Chapter years hence. This is from the national psych point of view. But from the point of view of people living under dictatorships, Obama’s reluctance may have just made a few thuggish dictators very happy, and prolonged the life of the club of thugs, including the Iranian regime. Seeing what happened to Syria and Syrians at the hand of the Assad criminal gang, and the world’s tolerance of Assad’s crimes, Iranian will be far more reluctant now to resume their green uprising, which is probably the worst  blow-back to Obama’s inaction.


  1. المطران يوحنا ابراهيم listen to his interview on BBC..

    قال المطران يوحنا ابراهيم، مطران السريان الارثوذكس في حلب، في مقابلة خاصة مع بي بي سي إن نحو ثلث المسيحيين السوريين هاجروا من سوريا منذ بدء الانتفاضة في مارس/آذار 2011.

    وأضاف المطران أنه “يجد صعوبة في إقناع المسيحيين البالغ عددهم الإجمالي مليون ونصف من عدد السكان بعدم الهجرة نتيجة صعوبة الظروف الامنية والتهديدات التي يواجهونها يوميا.”

    وذكر المطران أن عدد القتلى يصل الى “مئة الف وليس سبعين الفا كما ذكرت الامم المتحدة سابقا.”

    وادان وسائل الاعلام لانها “لا تنقل الصورة الصحيحة الواقعة على الارض”، موجها اللوم “للنظام على عدم تعامله مع الازمة بصورة افضل.”

    وأوضح المطران أن “محك المواطنة يكون في وقت الشدة والحل ليس في ترك البلاد”، مضيفا أن “المسيحيين غير مستهدفين وكذلك الكنائس ولكن ما يحدث هو تعرضهم لهجمات عشوائية.”

    واكد على ان “الوضع في سوريا يختلف عن الوضع في العراق، ولا يرتبط بقاء المسيحيين في سوريا ببقاء نظام الرئيس بشار الاسد.”

    وقد انخفض عدد المسيحيين المترددين على الكنائس الى “اقل من خمسين بالمئة” مقارنة بما كان عليه الحال قبل الاحداث التي بدأت عام 2011، بحسب المطران.

    واكد انه اذا تركت الازمة السورية للسوريين فسيقومون بحلها بدون تدخلات خارجية.

    ووجه المطران نداء إلى النظام السوري من خلال هيئة الاذاعة البريطانية “بفتح الابواب امام وسائل الاعلام لنقل الصورة الحقيقية للماسأة التي يعاني منها السوريون”.


  2. قتلوا البشر وحرقوا الشجر وخربوا الحجر

    Aleppo mosque is latest casualty of Syria’s civil war
    A landmark mosque in Aleppo has been burned, scarred by bullets and trashed – the latest casualty of Syria’s civil war.

    The Umayyad Mosque suffered extensive damage, as has the nearby medieval covered market, or souk, which was gutted by a fire that was sparked by fighting two weeks ago.

    The market and the mosque are centrepieces of Aleppo’s walled Old City, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.


  3. URGENT: Please share with media and humanitarian organisations

    26-04-2013: Regime insiders have stated that the Assad regime intends to cut all telecommunications, mobile and internet services in Syria from the beginning of next month (starting on May 1st, 2013). The regime is apparently set to declare a ”public holiday” between May 1st and May 5th. It intends to carry out further chemical and massacres attacks during this period in an effort to end all opposition by killing as many people as possible, with communications services being severed in an attempt to prevent people in Syria from informing the outside world what is happening.
    Please share this information.

    From: Union of Syrian Christians and Muslims Against Bashar Assad


  4. المجلس المحلي لبلدة المقيليبة في ريف دمشق

    هام جدا || الغوطة الغربية في خطر :
    وثـــــــــــــيـــــــــقــــة مــــســـــــربــــــــة

    الجمهورية العربية السورية
    القيادة العامة للجيش والقوات المسلحة
    الفرقة السابعة/ميكا-فرع العمليات
    27/4/2013 م

    إلى كافة قطعات ووحدات الفرقة السابعة/ميكا يطلب إليكم تزويد العناصر المشاركة بمهام أمنية في كل من المناطق التالية:(الكسوة-زاكية-الدرخبية-دروشا-خان الشيح) بمجموعة الوقاية الفردية من الأسلحة الكيميائية لاحتمال استخدام هذه الأسلحة من قبل قوات صديقة

    يأمل قائد الفرقة السابعة/ميكا من جميع القادة وعلى مختلف المستويات إيلاء الاهتمام الخاص والسرية التامة على دقة تنفيذ التدابير الواردة أعلاه بغية تفكيك منظومة الإرهابيين .

    التوقيع :
    اللواء علي حسين العلي
    قائد الفرقة السابعة/ميكا


Share your thinking

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s