How Syria is on the loosing end of a win-win situation
After weeks of stalling, the US has finally announced it would be providing military support to the Free Syrian Army, much to the satisfaction of Senator John McCain. The decision follows the confirmation of the use, by the Syrian regime, of Sarin gas. Despite having continuously stated that the use of chemical weapons would be a red line not to cross, the White House has tried to avoid the issue on grounds of insufficient evidence. They hoped the warning would serve as a deterrent for the Assad regime, but now the line was crossed, the evidence appears to be incontrovertible, and the US has to commit.
However, this is a complicated situation. Though Syria is an ally of both Hezbollah and Iran and despite Obama’s statements that Assad has to go, the White House was happy not to get involved given Washington’s track record in the region. Additionally, taking action against the Assad regime means supporting direct allies of Al Qaeda. Whatever US weapons are provided to the rebels will almost certainly end up in unfriendly hands.
So who benefits from Washington’s decision? Russia’s official stance has always been against foreign intervention all the while selling weapons to the regime. Lately, however, the regime has been taking the upper hand in the conflict. As a result, in a beautiful show of hypocrisy, Moscow decided not to provide Assad with more sophisticated weapons to avoid tilting the balance of power. In other words, Russia has profited massively from the conflict and has no interest in seeing it come to an end.
Even though they can’t openly say it, the Russians have every reason to welcome the United States’ backing of the Free Syrian Army. Especially since it will most likely be minor support: the White House is reluctant to impose a no-fly-zone and ground troops aren’t even on the table. Providing the rebels with small weapons pleases both American and Russian arms dealers and has the added benefit of turning the United States public’s attention away from recent scandals.
Everyone benefits from a weak intervention in Syria, except both sides in the Syrian conflict. No one, however, benefits from an end of the war. If the Obama administration really wanted to stop the violence, they would do more than even out the imbalance of power. This way, they can keep the devil they know busy fighting the one they don’t know.