Some Middle East experts are throwing cold water on the Obama administration’s contention that a limited missile strike on Syria won’t actually result in more violence and a further destabilization of the region. According to an article at the top of the New York Times website, even a well-executed strategic strike against the nation could aggravate tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia — both nations that seek to dominate the region politically and militarily — and actually have the effect of buoying up Syria’s beleaguered President Bashar al-Assad.
Middle East watchers say that the only truly predictable thing about the highly unstable region is that any actions will produce unintended consequences. They warn of a possible Assad-bolstering surge of anti-Americanism or even a spreading of hostilities to other countries in the region, including Turkey and Israel.
Ryan Crocker, a key figure in the U.S. mishandling of the invasion and occupation of Iraq told the Times, “Our biggest problem is ignorance; we’re pretty ignorant about Syria.” He served as ambassador to Iraq from 2007 to 2009 and is currently the Dean of the George W. Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.
Drawing from his own experience attempting to manage the situation in Iraq after the catastrophic waves of violence that enveloped the country in 2006, Crocker warned that one U.S. raid is no assurance that Assad will stop carrying out chemical raids.
“So he continues on in defiance — maybe he even launches another chemical attack to put a stick in our eye — and then what?” Crocker asked. “Because once you start down this road, it’s pretty hard to get off it and maintain political credibility.”
Carol J. Williams wrote in the L.A. Times that the Obama administration also knows that toppling Assad would leave a “dangerous power vacuum” at the top of the Syrian government, paving the way for “revenge attacks on Assad’s minority Alawite community, sectarian clashes between Shiites and Sunnis, and infighting among the disparate rebel groups, the stronger of which are aligned with Al Qaeda.”
An editorial published Thursday in The Nation posited that a U.S. raid might not only be ineffective, but a humanitarian disaster.
“What could airstrikes be expected to accomplish?” asked the magazine’s editors. “And why should the ‘humanitarian’ response to this horrific event be military intervention?”
The U.K. Parliament voted 272-285 earlier this week against Conservative Party Prime Minister John Cameron’s assertion that the nation should join the U.S. in a Syrian strike. The move is not just a stunning rebuke from the U.S.’s most dependable ally, but U.K. political observers are saying that this could be the death knell for Cameron’s coalition government, paving the way for a Parliamentary vote of no confidence and possible election.
“It is clear to me the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action,” Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday. “I get that and the government will act accordingly.”
National Public Radio’s Phillip Reeves said, “It’s a measure of the level of opposition to the possibility of being drawn into a war without knowing the consequences in the Middle East and a reflection of the legacy of Iraq.”