An alternative solution to the Syrian crisis

by Charlie_East_West on August 27, 2013

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Here we go again. The Amercian and British Middle East Policeman is about to be recommissioned.

The US and UK administrations prepare to unleash their own weapons of mass destruction as a response to the recent chemical attacks in Syria. Fingers remain firmly pointed at Assad, as the culprit of blame. But, before we perhaps mistakenly decide to bomb Syria, shouldn’t we at least get foolproof evidence of who is to blame? And even more critically, shouldn’t we at least get a potential diplomatic solution that would avoid more Western military interventionism?

My esteemed colleague Ray North has previously articled in his usual purple prose about the case towards US/UK military intervention in Syria. He raises a number of valid points, but I beg to differ. His argument is idealistic as it presumes a utopian outcome beyond such interventionism.

Intervening in Syria raises a number of questions. Firstly, who exactly are we targeting? We are a still a long way short of any United Nations verified procedure of chemical attack culpability – with the names of victims, proof of the nature of their deaths, and any proof clearly establishing guilt and responsibility. Despite the lack of robust publicly disclosed evidence, William Hague and increasingly (and worryingly, Barack Obama) are moving forwards towards the traditional US/UK guise of interventionist war mongering hawks.

If you want proven atrocities, and western response inertia, all you need to do is look at Egypt, where the new military government, lawlessly installed by confusion, haste, fear and internal butchery, has openly engaged in several severe massacres of many defenceless and innocent civilians. Yet, no US/UK military attacks on Egypt are proposed. The contrast couldn’t be clearer. The undeniable mass-murders in Egypt bring no response from the West. Yet, in Syria, an alleged mass-murder, whose culprit is not completely proven, is the subject of potential bomb droppings. We have proof of blame in Egypt, yet no intervention. We do not yet have proof of who is to blame in Syria and the bombs await.

The same could also be said for the government led atrocities in Congo, Columbia, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Burma and Ethiopia. The reason and sources of genocide and slaughtering of their own from government instigation might be different, but the same atrocities from within apply. So, if we intervene in Syria, why are we not intervening elsewhere?

And yet, we have been here before. Another potential misplaced and deeply hypocritical case of foreign interventionism. How is this any different to say, Iraq? It has been well documented that Saddam slaughtered his own. Another bad guy. So, the key reason for going into Syria – to stop the bad guy – remains the same.

Critically however, the whole thing will inevitably fall apart on the aftermath of intervention. It will be almost impossible to control a post liberated Syria without becoming embroiled in a civil war between Assad supporters, Al Qaeda influencers and rouge terrorist units. Any UN or allied forces that are left in the ground will be subject to guerrilla attacks and forced into a war of attrition within a brutal climate and terrain, combined with a social and cultural landscape that the forces will not understand or acclimatise towards.

We must also not forget the Western vested interests. Inevitably Western defence interventionism will lead to Western corporate interventionism. As I have previously highlighted within the ongoing Pipelineistan power game, American policy has been as such since Congress passed the Silk Road Strategy Act in March 1999. The act identified American trade and defence needs from the Black Sea to China with a need to build up American protective bases in Central Asia and to ensure a military and energy industrial base across the Eurasian energy corridor.

All of the above reasons can be bundled together with one immovable truth. Recent history has taught us the perils of interventionism. So why would a potential Syria intervention be any different to say, Afghanistan or Iraq?

There is a compelling humanitarian case to stop the slaughter in Syria. But in so doing, there is also a chess board geopolitical opportunity to rearrange the pieces on the Middle East chessboard and take Syria out of the pro-Iranian camp, and even more sinisterly, another potential pipeline opportunity for global oil and gas companies to extend their pioneering spirit to another middle eastern region.

We are stuck in a vortex of no one really knowing what is the best path to take, or indeed, the global establishment not caring about the best path – more of an opportunity to take the best strategic geopolitical chess board move in Syria. Regime change in Syria isn’t a new idea. The regime change Blair and Bush hawk styled advocates will arm the rebels and send in the troops despite the previous disasters of such an approach in Iraq or Afghanistan. The liberal doves meanwhile, will continue to cling to the hope that a little more diplomacy might convince Assad to a change. It becomes a zero sum game of chess than will end in stalemate rather than checkmate.

The former is impractical and extremely dangerous, and the latter is wishful thinking – and they’re both unrealistic. After months of slaughter, we appear uncertain of most things in Syria – in particular, the ways and means of the rebels, and we are still not completely certain of who is to blame for each atrocity committed.

So, bombing Syria under the auspices of moral indignation and retribution against a bad man is misplaced and futile. Alternatively, it is hard to see how another round of diplomacy and talks will convince a man (who decided long ago to slaughter his own) to raise a white flag in peace.

Also – this conflict has the potential to escalate into a global conflict. Russia and China sit on the fence awaiting the fall out. But, it is on this point that we can look towards another possibility for a solution in Syria – by using ruthless diplomacy and go straight to the country that really matters in all of this carnage, and broker a deal. The central point towards getting some sort of resolution with Syria is not on the road to Damascus. It is on the road to Moscow. It is with Russia where a solution lies. It is only by taking this path that can we avoid mass killings from either Assad or Western intervention – and that should be the just outcome in all of this – the avoidance of innocent death.

Syria is Russia’s only tangible ally in the Middle East, so, as such, Russia will see any attempt by the West to topple the Syrian regime as a threat to that relationship, and they cling to it, even as the Assad’s henchmen run amok butchering their own country’s women and children. As part of this huge geopolitical game of chess, Russia (as always) want to have as many pieces on the board as possible (just like the US, China, and rather pathetically in 2013 – Britain). Russia are the major geopolitical players in Syria, and, therein a road towards an opportunity.

We could go to the Russians, and instead of naively demanding that they drop support for Assad, we should offer them something tangible to get them onside. We should encourage them to take the lead – and the credit for any resolution – in an international effort to push out the Assad regime.

By helping push the Assad out and to get someone else in, Russia’s position of primary influencer in Syria would not change. They could maintain their economic relationship with Syria, continue selling them arms (despicable as is the whole policy of arms trading, it isn’t going to end), keep the Russian Mediterranean port base of Tartous, while at the same time gaining the respect of the world. Putin might even fuel his own global statesman ego by being seen to prevent a Syrian civil war that could spread to Syria’s neighbours and threaten to ignite the entire region. Christ, the fucker might even land a Nobel Prize.

Russia will be seen to take credit for a solution and a Syrian reboot. And, bloody good luck to them. So, instead of the US and UK hitting the ground in Syria, in a region where they have consistently failed to understand the political, geographic, social and religious mechanisms, we should instead turn to Russia, and let them carry the weight of rebooting Syria. We should let them take the lead, and if it fails, let them deal with the consequences. As I said – good luck to them. Let them carry the weight of a problem that they have more historical and geographical mandate to sort out than the West.

Those Cold War Luddites who still believe in a US-Russia zero sum game might have their ego bruised in the process, but fuck them. The harsh truth of the matter is that the United States and the UK has no leverage or understanding on Syria, and there is no appetite or credibility for another Middle East war sourced directly from the West.

This is the pragmatic option, and potentially the only option on the table right now. We are about to once again step over the precipice into another war within the heartlands of a Middle East rogue state that we do not understand, and therefore, another war that will be doomed to failure, resulting in even more Middle Eastern hatred against the American and British global policeman.

There is another hugely strategic reason for deploying Russia as the gatekeeper in Syria – by utilising the caveat of ending Syrian links to Iran in return for Russia exerting a controlling influence. In return for American and Western support of Russian diplomatic control over Syria, we must insist any new Syrian government ends its relationship with the elephant in the room over the Syrian crisis – the current regime in Iran.

We must keep our eyes pointed in the direction of Iran. Do we want nuclear armed anti Western Iranian control around the major supply region of the world’s exported oil, and a major role in controlling the world’s economy?

That is why we need the US and UK to support Russian control over Syria – on the conditional understanding that any new Russian based Syrian regime ending their close ties with Iran.

This is a long game of diplomatic chess. A potential long shot. But, given that nothing else is working, and that the two options of US/UK military interventionism in Syria, or do nothing are both doomed to failure – allowing Russia to call the shots in Syria (with the Iranian severance condition) – it is a shot worth taking.

The question is whether the UK or US has the strategic vision, transparency, diplomatic skills and more critically – the willingness to remove their own interventionist and anti Russian egos to go down this path.

Any other option is just downright stupid, stubborn and potentially dangerous.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Killingworth August 28, 2013 at 7:17 am

I’m afraid that this is also a “downright stupid, stubborn and potentially dangerous” option. Putin’s long-term plan is to control global energy supplies and he will be only too happy to use our fear of al-Qaeda to take strides towards this goal.

And no, and I don’t have an option to which those epithets don’t apply. Western culture and living standards remain a sledge trundling across the tundra: why we should prefer one of the encircling wolves to another, I’ve no idea.

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Charlie_East_West August 28, 2013 at 7:55 am

The alternative is worse – The killing of innocent civilians. Brutal diplomacy is better than brutal weaponry.

Isn’t the control of global energy also the ultimate aim for the US – post Silk Road Act?

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