America’s Passive Stance On Syria – OpEd


By Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed

Election year, Obama’s personality, the Iraqi nightmare, the attitude of the Russians and the phobia of jihadists are all reasons that might explain the protracted slackness of the Americans to support the popular uprising in Syria.

Thousands of Syrians carry arms and are bravely fighting a spectacular war with simple weapons. Although they have been fighting for more than a year, they are not able to bring down the regime or to occupy a single important city. The reason is it is not a truly popular revolution, but an orphaned one fighting against one of the most oppressive regimes in the world.

Syria - United States Relations
Syria – United States Relations

Away from Damascus, the American president is busy in the presidential elections, which are only nine weeks away. He has a chance to win and so he is not willing to get involved in action in a foreign country for fear it may lead to his defeat and therefore the loss of his party. Then there is the personality of Obama himself. It is obvious that he wants to distinguish himself and his administration from his predecessor President George W. Bush by not copying his acts. He is against military intervention so he pulled his forces out of Iraq and is now working to pull out of Afghanistan. He does not want to send his forces to fight in Syria or anywhere else. Obama is different from Bush and even from other American presidents such as Bill Clinton, who took a risk in Yugoslavia and succeeded. Clinton also ordered limited operations against Saddam Hussein in Iraq, in Somalia, Sudan and Afghanistan.

Obama wants the Americans to go to the polls keeping in mid that it is he who eliminated their eternal enemy Osama Bin Laden. He does not want the widows of the dead American soldiers to demonstrate against him. His philosophy is not based on expanding influence or facing enemies in various parts of the world. He is less enthusiastic about foreign policy. Although the US State Department is into a war of words against the Russians, there is a big difference between the two countries. The Russian government is very enthusiastic in its support of Bashar Assad. The main reason Assad’s regime is still surviving is the Russian military, financial and intelligence support. This is the first time since the end of the Cold War that we see the US scared of Russian anger, despite the fact that the fall of the Syrian regime will be helpful for the US in the event of a possible war against Iran. There is also fear from jihadists. Much has been written about them (jihadists), who reportedly poured into Syria from various parts of the world. No doubt these people include members of Al-Qaeda. However, we will find the jihadists in any troubled area where there is chaos and lack of powerful central authority, such as Libya, Somalia, north Mali and Yemen. It is extremely wrong to leave the Syrian revolution to such people with terrorist agendas. These people have nothing to do with the revolution of the Syrian citizens who are longing for dignity and freedom and not for the destruction of the world.

I am aware that many Americans see stark contradictions in Arabs calling on the US to intervene militarily in Syria while previously they objected to any US military intervention abroad. I am of the opinion that the Americans may say to us: “We are not a brigade in the Arab army. One time you throw shoes at us and at another time you invite us to defend you.” This contradiction can be explained citing the fact that the Arab region is a big area with conflicting views and ideas. The region had oppressive regimes, some of which destroyed their relationship with the US including the regimes of Qaddafi in Libya, Saleh in Yemen and now Assad in Syria. In Syria, however, the interests are identical. The demand of the Syrian people for Assad’s ouster goes hand in hand with the American interests.

In my view, the Americans may lose out on the most important popular cause in the Arab world if they turn their backs on a revolution, which, if successful, may well narrow the gap between America and the Arab world, especially after the US failure in Iraq. The Syrians do not want American soldiers to come and fight alongside them. They are in need of advanced weapons to face the regime’s fighters and the tanks, which they now face with simple weapons at a time the regime is ferociously shelling its citizens and towns. The Syrians have been fighting for a year without any help from their neighbors or any valuable support from the big powers. Despite all these shortages and the long road, the end seems to be clear: The downfall of the regime. The atrocities committed by the forces of the regime increased the peoples’ hatred against it. It also increased the determination of the Syrian people to bring down the regime at all costs. Whoever boards the Syrian revolution train, which will only stop in the heart of Damascus, will forever be remembered by the young generations in Syria. This is the truth known to everyone who knows the sentiments of the region.

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Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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