ISSN 2330-717X

Abortive Plan For Arab Invasion Of Syria – OpEd


By Mohyeddin Sajedi

Syria dismissed the proposal put forward by Qatar for sending Arab troops to Syria and said the prospect serves to make the conditions in the country more critical and thwart the Arab League (AL) observers’ plan, opening the door to further foreign intervention in the country. Damascus also told the League that it will not oppose the extension of the observer mission’s presence in the country.

An informed source in the Arab League has said Moscow and Beijing have advised Damascus to accept the extension of Arab observers’ mission. The mandate of the delegation (comprised of 155 people so far) was only for one month that is about to finish. Earlier at the time when the offer was accepted, Damascus had spoken of the possibility of the mission’s extension.

In an interview with an American TV channel, the Qatari emir said the option of the deployment of the Arab armies to Syria could be considered. Given the further remarks made by the United Arab Emirates and Iraqi foreign ministers indicating that this issue is on the agenda of the upcoming meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers on 21 January, it is proved that that the comment by Qatar’s emir had not been impulsive and it has been part of a plan that had already been agreed.

The Arab League’s deputy secretary general has said in an interview with an Algerian newspaper that the bloc has not yet received a formal proposal regarding the deployment of Arab military forces to Syria for halting the violence in the country.

This comes while the deployment of Arab observers to Syria has not made a change in the country’s situation. The report prepared by the Sudanese chief of the Arab League came on the contrary to the expectations of some Arab governments and media, which thought that upon the arrival of the AL observers, popular protests and rallies would increase in Syrian cities. The Qatari government also repeatedly dismissed the plans to use Arab observers as of no avail and insisted that the United Nations should intervene in the issue of monitoring Syria’s internal affairs.

The Syrian opposition has repeatedly condemned the AL observers’ conduct or protested against it to the extent that one of the leading opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the Arab League headquarters accused the bloc of being paid by Iran and Russia and another talked about the necessity of a Western military action against Iran to end the crisis in Syria.

Dispatching Arab troops to Syria does not seem likely. The main reason is that no Arab army is prepared to do so. The Qatari army is not noteworthy. Maybe the Egyptian ad Jordanian armies can afford to do so. Regarding the internal situation in Egypt, it seems unlikely that the country’s army participate in a military intervention in Syria. Jordan, more than other nations, is concerned about the reflections of Syria’s internal crisis on the situation inside its own country.

Another possibility is that some or even all of the Arab states seek to create a united army and dispatch it to Syria. The forming of such a joint force requires a great deal of time. The Syrian army is one of the most powerful military forces that have so far been able to maintain the country’s unity. It seems unlikely that the united Arab army may even think of waging an offensive against Syrian military forces.

But one should think of the possibility of a military confrontation. The plan prepared by Qatar or governments such as the US, France and Britain are not formulated to be actually implemented, but its main purpose is to show the inability of the Arab League to resolve the crisis in Syria. Similarly, the plan for dispatching Arab observers to Syria is not meant to be implemented successfully, but its ultimate goal is to admit defeat and move on to the next plan, that is, sending Arab troops to Syria. This project will be nipped in the bud because it is not executable. Syria will not accept the plan and Arab governments also cannot afford to execute it. Following the failure of this plan, the third stage will begin by the official request of the Arab League from the United Nations. It certainly would be non-Arab military intervention in Syria.

Are Western governments willing to repeat the story of Libya and go to war with the Syrian army and establishment? The Libyan army had been destroyed even before the NATO troops attacked Libya and Muammar Gaddafi placed it under the command of the units which were run by his sons. One other factor must be taken into account. Arab League’s Secretary General Nabil el-Arabi stated that Western governments will not be involved in military intervention in Syria, because Syria has no oil to cover Western governments’ war expenses like Libya. The next factor is the upcoming presidential election in the United States and France, which will cause the White House and Elysée Palace not to afford to enter a new war and thus impose additional costs on their current crisis-ridden economic situation.

Perhaps creating a safe corridor for the delivery of military aid to Assad’s opposition can be considered as the only means through which the Turkish army can intervene in Syria. Several European ministers have already expressed the idea of constructing such a corridor. The success of this project depends on several factors the most important of which — after Ankara’s agreement — is creating a large rift between the Syrian army and governmental organizations.

Renegade Syrian forces, who are mobilized in Turkey under the banner of Free Syrian Army, and the Syrian National Council, which is headquartered in Paris, have always expressed support for the foreign intervention allegedly to back the Syrian people.

If Syria’s crisis enters a military stage and brings foreign or Arab armies to the battlefield, the regional and international power balance will be tipped and powers such as Russia and China will not agree with it. Even if these plans and threats are not put into practice, more pressure will be exerted on the Syrian government.

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