Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Piling Mistake Upon Mistake- The Hindu

The only way to achieve a peaceful transition to democracy in Syria is through the regime. Destroying the state will lead to a power vacuum and chaos

The Hindu

"For two years, the United States and the European Union have done everything short of sending their own troops and aircraft into battle to evict Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria. Only recently have they begun to realise that they have made a historic mistake: in the euphoria created by the Arab Spring, they are in imminent danger of handing over the entire Arab world to Islamists for whom democracy is anathema.

 In a front page editorial titled ‘The Death of a Country,’ The Economist has warned that if the West now simply draws back and lets the civil war run its course, Syria will become “a new Somalia rotting in the heart of the Levant.”

“Almost everything America wants to achieve in the Middle East will become harder.
Containing terrorism, ensuring the supply of energy and preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction … Syria’s disintegration threatens them all.”

 Blaming Assad

Where The Economist goes dangerously wrong is in heaping all the blame for this on Mr. Assad. Had he not “embraced a policy of violence from the start” and “attacked the Arab Spring with tanks and gunships” and turned his Alawite praetorian guard upon Sunnis, he would not have “turned peaceful demonstrators into armed militants” and drawn the jihadi hosts into Syria.

 To prevent Syria from turning into another Mali, therefore, it asks the U.S. and the EU to administer the same medicine it fed to Qadhafi in Libya — impose a no-fly zone, destroy Syria’s air force and missiles, and arm ‘non-Jihadi rebel groups’ with surface-to-air missiles. These prescriptions reveal a profound ignorance of the situation in both Libya and Syria.

What is more immediately relevant is that its view in not shared by any leader of the democracy movement in Syria. On the contrary, in an article in The Guardian on June 22 last year, Haytham Manna, the chairman of the 16-party National Coalition for Transition to Democracy, and Mr. Assad’s most trenchant critic in the early days of the insurgency, placed the blame for the sidelining of the democracy movement squarely upon the West’s complicity in allowing the Istanbul based Free Syrian Army to recruit Islamist foreign fighters for the assault on Syria.
  Six months later, on December 18, he wrote that the Syrian people had come to regard the foreigners not as liberators but as oppressors. “When the Syrian army attacks al-Nusra it is not as the suppressor of the popular movement, but the guarantor of the unity of Syria's diverse society … It is the alliance between foreign jihadists and some Syrians that risks tearing the country apart, leading to religious extremism, long-term sectarian war, and the persecution of minorities and various civilian groups.” 

The Economist correctly perceives that as Syria disintegrates, the jihadis could use “lawless territory as a base for international terror (and) menace Israel across the Goal Heights.” But what it does not perceive is that the collapse of the Assad regime will hasten this process and end by putting Israel in mortal peril. One has only to trace the likely aftermath of its collapse to understand why.

First, the end of Mr. Assad will not necessarily mean the return of peace. As happened in Afghanistan, it will make 5,000 to 6,000 foreign jihadis redundant and turn them into loose cannons in the country. Repatriating them will be far from easy because the ‘Arab Spring’ has shattered their home economies and left millions without work. This is why Libyans make up the largest contingent among the foreign fighters in both Syria and Mali. 

Struggle for power 

But they cannot stay on indefinitely in Syria either for, with no common purpose left to unite them, the rivalry between the jihadis and more moderate opponents of Mr. Assad will almost certainly erupt into a struggle for power. Unlike the proxy war that it was able to wage upon Mr. Assad, this is a war the West will not be able to stay out of.

The moderates within the newly created Syrian National Coalition of Opposition and Revolutionary forces (SNCORF) already fear this. That is why within three months of being elected, its President Moaz al Khatib, a former Imam of the Omayyad mosque in Damascus, declared himself willing to attend a conference with Bashar al-Assad to chalk out a peaceful transition in Syria. But his weakness was exposed when the diehards in the SNCORF forced him to retract his offer within days. The only remaining option is also the easiest. This is to channel their fervour into a new jihad. The inevitable next target will be Jordan because it lies on the direct route to Al Quds (Jerusalem) and the Al Aqsa mosque, the second holiest shrine in Islam. 

Jordan, next target

Jordan will either cave in or give them free access to the West Bank. That will leave Israel surrounded, and isolated. Any pre-emptive action it takes to make its borders more secure such as re-occupying the Sinai to block access to Gaza will alienate the Arabs, increase the sway of the jihadis, and blight the prospect for a return to democracy and religious moderation in the foreseeable future. It could also put a question mark over the long-term survival of Israel.

 If Barack Obama wishes to arrest the development of another, infinitely more dangerous, quagmire in Syria and Jordan, he must do the opposite of what The Economist is proposing and heed, however belatedly, the pleas of the original Syrian National Council, and other leading democracy activists like Manna, to stop the inflow of arms and foreign fighters. This will, admittedly meet stiff opposition from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Libya. But Mr. Obama does not have the choice of shirking hard decisions, because he or his successors will face worse ones in the future.

 Second, Mr. Obama needs to recognise that the only way to achieve a peaceful transition to democracy is through the regime, as is happening in Myanmar, and not after its destruction. Creating a power vacuum by destroying the state does not make way for democracy but chaos. The resulting vacuum is always filled by the most organised, ruthless and therefore undemocratic groups in a society.
 In his January 7 speech to his country, Mr. Assad invited all remaining Syrian opposition groups to a second conference on democracy and threw the doors open to a fresh election and the formation of a new government. He should be strongly urged to hold it as soon, and with as few preconditions, as possible. Haytham Manna and his colleagues should be encouraged to attend the conference. Moaz al Khatib also wants to attend it: Mr. Obama should make it possible for him to do so. (The writer is a senior journalist)
I am not suggesting I agree with this piece entirely. But, many valid points are raised.


  1. jordanian prisoners lead prison and go straight on jihad in syria

    now it want so long ago a notorious danish cartoon implied Mohammed was a terrorists and form out ofd him come bombings....yet here we see sunnis going out of their way to show it is true...youd almsot think this is all a zionst plot to defame islam.

    the strangeness of islam: Islamists have a ban on depicting mohammed...but no ban on killing/raping people

    1. I have some issues with the coverage here regarding Jordan
      Since I hold the opinion that Jordan is the place that Israel wants to force the Palestinians into....

  2. "I am not suggesting I agree with this piece entirely. But, many valid points are raised."

    But, as you know Pen, the most effective disinfo contains many valid points. Here the MSM propaganda "from the start of the uprising in 2011, Mr Assad has embraced a strategy of violence. By attacking the Arab spring with tanks and gunships, he turned peaceful demonstrators into armed militias. By shelling cities he uprooted his people. By getting his Alawite brethren to massacre the Sunni majority..." goes unchallenged, what we have as a concession, is that this (Assad's violence) did not by itself 'draw in the jihadis' but that the West was merely complicit in allowing the Istanbul based Free Syrian Army to recruit Islamist foreign fighters for the assault on Syria.

    "Jordan, next target
    Jordan will either cave in or give them {the jihadis} free access to the West Bank. That will leave Israel surrounded, and isolated.."

    Here we have the idea that the jihadis are an independent group and that poor little isolated Israel is going to be put in peril. In reality we know that the jihadis are merely mercenary thugs employed by the Zionist NWO forces, and that Israel needs a pretext for waging expansionist wars on the basis of 'self-defence'. How else is Israel to fulfil its destiny of establishing Eretz Israel?

    1. Yah, I know there were pieces of this editorial that made me cringe...
      particularly wrt Jordan and Israel (victimhood)

      However, the author of the Hindu piece is quoting from the Economist and then challenging the points the Economist made..
      and the bit you are quoting 'from the start of...." is taken from the Economist magazine article. The lead up to that is

      "Where The Economist goes dangerously wrong is in heaping all the blame for this on Mr. Assad."

      However all the stuff on Jordan?
      It is entirely possible Jordan will be the next target.
      Because there is an Israeli agenda to push the Palestinians into Jordan
      In fact Hamas in Palestine moved their headquarters to Jordan
      I have a post on that somewhere here

      "This is presented as being beneficial to the Palestinian cause. Is it really?
      Isn't it in fact more beneficial that Palestinians get their own nation, and their lands back and their right of return?
      In fact the very concept of Palestinians in Jordan is one that is often promoted by Israel and that nations supporters..

      This is linked to the destabilization of Syria

      The thinking in Jordan is that when Assad's regime falls, (as if it is a foregone conclusion?) Hamas will need a new home - this is likely to be an excellent chance for Jordan to return to the center of Palestinian politics, from which it has been excluded for a decade.
      As Israel turns their lackies on Jordan... (no independent action in my world) And yes, we know that the jihadis are NATO/Israeli mercs........."

      So the author of this piece is correct in the fact that Jordan will be next, but, it has zero to do with Israel being victimized
      And everything to do with plans already being set in motion to displace the Palestinians from their rightful homeland