June 9, 2011 Leave a comment
At present there is a growing chorus of voices calling for a more ‘muscular’ Western intervention in Syria. This is not a sensible call; the consequences would be bloody civil strife and a quagmire of ‘insurgency’.
Syria and Iraq have many many similarities. Whilst the Shiite/Sunni balance is inverted in Iraq compared to Syria, they share a similar culture and societal make-up. Syria is full of Iraqi refugees, who are often denied the right to work even though many are highly qualified. The Syrians had a first row seat to witness the disintegration of Iraq. People are painfully aware of what can be the consequence of foreign intervention. What comes now may sound sickening but is probably sensible: it’s not in anyone’s interest for the West to intervene to remove Assad. Although one should always be wary of making predictions based on precedent from other states, Iraq descended into a maelstrom of sectarian violence with the removal of Hussein or as Mamdani said, “the top was blown off” and all hell broke loose. I think if the Assad regime falls too quickly (that is, due to a foreign intervention), the Syrian people will suffer terribly. With a successful revolution this may happen anyway, but there is no reason to be the cause.
I also see another trend common to this region (from Iraq and Lebanon). In the words of Naim Qassem of Hezbollah, when the Israelis arrived in 1982, they were greeted with “perfumed rice and trills of joy” by the Shias. How long before their presence was resented? How long in Iraq before people were willing to kill to eject foreign forces?
Foreign intervention in Syria will prompt sectarian violence and an ‘insurgency’ which might make Iraq’s look calm (it would probably attract Hezbollah and the Sadrist Jaish Al Mahdi, as well as Iranian meddling). No Western power wants – or should want – to provoke such a conflict.