By Alan Caruba
Name me a country where funeral processions get fired upon and more people die on the way to burying the latest martyrs for peace and freedom? It’s just about any country in the Middle East and on July 19 it was Syria where ten people died in Homs, a place where some fifty have died in the past week protesting the second generation of the Assad dictatorship.
A week earlier an alleged “pro-Assad mob” attacked the U.S. embassy in Damascus after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said of Basher Assad that he as “not indispensable” and that the U.S. has “absolutely nothing invested in him remaining in power.” So far this has been the position of the U.S. on Egypt’s Hosni Mubarack, Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, and just about everyone else in the Middle East short of Abdullah, the King of Saudi Arabia.
It was not the first time the Damascus embassy had been attacked. In December 2006, al Qaeda was credited with blowing up a car bomb outside as a gang of armed men tried to break in. The attack, though, has all the earmarks of an Iranian operation.
Let’s see, when was the last time a U.S. embassy was attacked? It was 1979 in Tehran when the Iranians took its staff hostage and held them for 444 days. The Iranians were behind the 1983 suicide attack on the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241. These days they all but own Syria as they patiently work their way toward possessing nuclear-tipped missiles with which to threaten the Middle East and everywhere else.
After World War I, Syria was carved out of the former Ottoman Empire and ceded to French colonial control. In 1946, the French granted it independence. It then passed through a series of military coups until Basher’s father, Hafez Assad, took control of Syria.
Upon his death, it passed to his son, Bashar in 2000. In May 2007, Bashar was “elected” to his second term.This is not exactly a definition of a democracy, but neither is any nation in the Middle East and never was.
In the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Hafez joined with Egypt and, in the process, lost the Golan Heights, a strategic victory for the Israelis who have shown no intention of returning it or the ancient Israeli provinces of Samaria and Judea, won from Jordan, and now commonly but mistakenly called the West Bank. The Israelis do not “occupy” it. They lived there three thousand years ago.
The Egyptians lost the Gaza at that time, but the Israelis have since ceded it to the Palestinians in the hope they might establish a state, but they have never shown the slightest inclination of establishing one except as a base from which to attack the Israelis.
From 1976 until April 2005, the Syrians had occupied Lebanon which is now a base for Hezbollah, a Palestinian terrorist group that has successfully taken control. They take their orders from Iran.
Syria has been a classic police state. Reportedly, Iran has deployed 10,000 troops to Syria to protect the Assad regime and are in effective control of the nation. Iranian troops have been in Syria since 2008 and, not surprisingly, their northern headquarters have been in Homs, the site of the latest killings.
In February 2009, it was reported that President Obama had decided to send a new U.S. ambassador to Syria and lift sanctions against a nation believed to have aided al Qaeda in Iraq and of secretly building a nuclear reactor. The Israelis, as they had done earlier with a reactor Saddam Hussein was building, bombed it to rubble in 2009.
So far, President Obama’s philosophy of talking nicely to our enemies in the Middle East has not worked and anyone with the slightest knowledge of the history of the region could have told him that.
President Bush’s decision to eliminate Saddam Hussein was based on the fact that Saddam was a constant destabilizing factor, having waged war against Iran for eight years in the 1980s, used poison gas to kill thousands of Kurds, and in 1990 attacked Kuwait to seize its oil fields.
The current U.S. policy is to withdraw troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Expecting the Middle East to act in any civilized fashion or thinking it can be taken over and reformed by sheer military force is clearly a fool’s dream.
Afghanistan has resisted control since the days of Alexander the Great. The Ottoman Empire, run by the Turks from the 1300s until the early 1920s did a fairly good job of maintaining the peace until it collapsed of its own dead weight
As nations such as Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan did little other than accept various dictators, the prospect of expecting anything but turmoil is utterly futile. What the West wants is access to and through the Suez Canal, along with the oil of the Middle East. The template of Western influence disappeared with both World War One and Two.
Just because those in the Middle East have the outward appearance of modernity, it is an illusion. This is a region of the world dominated by a warrior cult called Islam. As such it will remain an enemy of the West and of each other. It is a huge horror show.