On Syria: Why the Philippines Should Oppose War

As we inch closer to a prospective Western intervention against the Syrian regime, many are still confused over its circumstances and justification. And this has, quite understandably, raised a set of uncomfortable questions for many of us here in the Philippines.

syria_warOn the one hand, many have been appalled by the prospects of an embattled regime ruthlessly using chemical weapons (CW) against its own population. By flagrantly violating our most fundamental moral values, such alleged acts tend to encourage people to sympathize with any military intervention that could (a) punish the perpetrators and (b) deter further use of chemical weapons against civilians. On the other hand, from a consequentialist point of view, looking at the impact of actions rather than their principled justification, many could take the (semi-automatic) stance of opposing any form of inherently-destabilizing military intervention, regardless of circumstances.

In our case, matters have become more complicated by the fact that reportedly up to 2,920 Filipinos are yet to be repatriated, with 142 of them currently in the custody of Philippine representation in Damascus. The security as well as the safe repatriation of our OFWs will require not only a stable Syrian regime, but also its cooperation and goodwill.

The Question of Motivation

As of this writing, the fundamental problem, however, remains to be the lack of incontrovertible evidence to implicate the top Syrian leadership in a deliberate campaign of using CW against the civilian population.

Despite the release of two declassified intelligence reports by the U.S. and France, the West is yet to provide any credible information to prove that the Assad regime was in fact, and beyond reasonable doubt, culpable for any chemical weapons attack against the civilian population.

In fact, there are scant strategic reasons to expect Assad resorting to such despicable act. Recent months have seen major advances by the Assad regime, while the opposition has been not only weakened by growing internal divisions, but also hit by divisions among their external patrons, primarily between Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, on one hand, and Turkey and Qatar, on the other. Russia and Iran, however, continue to support the Syrian regime.

Meanwhile, we have seen a surge in the activities of Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra, who have been engaging in vicious clashes with more secular, moderate as well as Kurdish elements in the opposition to impose their own ultra-conservative version of a post-revolutionary Syria.

Most crucially, there have been indications that the radicals have gained access to CW. For instance, in May the Turkish police reported that they ceased 2 kg of sarin gas in the possession of the al-Nusra members, allegedly destined for Syria in the city of Adana. With hordes of supporters among Arab Sheikhdoms, extremist groups have enjoyed both material and logistical support to wage war against Alewite Shia Assad, who is treated as an infidel and a stooge of (Persian) Iran by more puritanical religious groups in the Arabian Peninsula.

The Folly of Intervention

The ongoing conflict in Syria is by no means a straightforward clash between forces of democracy against a tyrannical rule. The complexity of the Syrian civil war rests in the undisputable fact that a sizeable portion of the Syrian population, especially the ethnic-religious minorities and residents of Damascus and other major cities, continues to oppose the ongoing rebellion.

It is not so much about them wholeheartedly supporting the Bashar Al-Assad regime, which has so viciously muzzled any calls for democratic reform and failed at providing basic welfare for much of the population since inheriting power from his father Hafez Al-Assad in 2000, but instead their legitimate and deepening fear of how extremist forces could dominate the post-revolutionary context.

Washington’s expressed plans to “punish” the Syrian regime for allegedly using CW against his own population, but with no credible evidence to back up such claim, is eerily similar to the equally unjustifiable 2003 unilateral Western intervention in Iraq, which was based on fabricated evidence alleging that Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear weapons and supported Al-Qaeda groups. This is precisely why Western citizens are opposed to another intervention, and why the English Parliament unequivocally opposed Prime Minister David Cameron’s call for a direct British participation in any proposed military strike against the Syrian regime.

Today, Iraq is all but failed state, where sectarian conflict and suicide bombings are a regular affair. The more recent military intervention in Libya, deposing the Ghadaffi regime, has let to not only regime change, but also the collapse of the nation-state. No wonder, the combustible mixture of secessionism, rebellion, and rogue militia has gripped the nation.

In addition, any military action could decisively extinguish prospects of a “negotiated solution” to the Syrian crisis, which is pivotal to ending the ongoing civil war, while inviting counter-intervention by Syria’s supporters. The military intervention will not only strengthen the hands of extremist elements within the opposition, which have consistently sought Western military support, but it will also undermine efforts by moderates on both sides of the conflict to pave the way for a peaceful, resolution of the ongoing civil war.

What Syria needs today is not military intervention and a cycle of violence pitting multiple communities and factions against each other. This is precisely why I have supported the Philippines’ expressed position against any unilateral intervention, and our calls for the resolution of the Syrian crisis through multilateral arrangements such as the United Nations.

[This piece was originally published on GMA News Online. Photo courtesy The Dish.]

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About Richard Javad Heydarian

Richard Javad Heydarian is a Manila-based analyst focusing on economics and international security issues in Asia and the Pacific, whose work can be found in the Asia Times and the Huffington Post, among others. He is the author of the upcoming book, The Economics of the Arab Spring: How Globalization Failed the Arab World, Zed Books, 2014. He can be reached at jrheydarian@gmail.com

49 Comments on “On Syria: Why the Philippines Should Oppose War”

  1. The critical error the Western democracies and their allies have made with regards to intervention in the Middle East lies in not having a comprehensive plan for nation building for the post-revolutionary period. And a failure of the revolutionary forces on the ground to produce a credible alternative to the regimes they oppose. Any intervention in Syria that ousts Assad will likely pave the way for the more organised militant groups — such as those supported by the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda — to seize control of the country afterward. Syria post-Assad will devolve into sectarian violence with the most powerful factions being the extremist Al Qaeda-backed groups and the forces supported by Iran and Hezbollah. That body count 100,000 is only going to climb higher.

    1. It is not a mistake, they do it on purpose. As long as the guy who they want removed is removed, they do not really care what happens next, especially to the citizens of whatever country it is. The next ‘guy’ will deal on the West’s terms or he will be removed, see? If you doubt this statement just check out what is going on in Egypt right now. Even Mubarek is out of Jail. HO-SNEE MOO BAR ECK!
      Sounds like an intestinal disorder.
      “Waiter, clue,please.”.

    2. Support Obama!

      Sometimes a politician needs to be courageous and make unpopular decisions that will be seen as wise 100 years from now.

      Join the movement to start WWW3:

    3. This is what happens when masses aren’t properly educated. Poor education in these parts of countries results in moronism creating potential fatalities. These people in the Middle East (just like ours) are plagued with closed-mindedness, especially when you’ve got leaders who really still possess this feudal mentality.

      They just don’t want to move on. And so you build up on this pile of ignorance, until it becomes a monster in itself.

  2. With the propensity and readiness of the Islamists in shamelessly sacrificing anyone, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were behind this CW attack, designed to put the blame on the Assad regime. Afterall, they would benefit the most in an event of a military strike by the west. Besides, the US should learn the lessons of disasterous outcomes of the recent history of their interventions.

  3. C’mon GRP, Do you really expect people to believe anything that either side has to say about who is winning the internal struggle in Syria?

    If you do not already know the biases involved and what is at stake then you really should not even comment on the situation. The two sides are open for who-ever wishes to join their respective ranks. Have some ‘Nerve/BALLS’ for a change and declare who you support.

    Hint:
    The RP is seriously involved with the country that represents the ‘Rebels’.

  4. I don’t know if our country has the nerve to openly oppose the USA.

    Also, I don’t see why the USA always has to intervene as something like ‘the bringer of justice.’ It gives me the impression that they have vested interest or are just making the war on Syria as a scapegoat for it.

    1. Mohamad,

      EVERY nation-state has their own foreign policy, i.e. geopolitical considerations that govern their relations with other countries. It would be naive to assume that states interact with one another out of altruism. The primary objective is to gain something that will be to one’s benefit.

      If the United States decides to intervene in a conflict out of, as they say, a desire to ensure that the use of weapons of mass destruction does not proliferate, it would benefit the Syrian opposition in that this will somewhat limit President Assad’s belligerence. The immediate effect it would have for the United States is to improve the image of its president who is generally seen as being ineffectual when it comes to foreign relations. They did not act on other incidents in the region — not in Libya, or Tunisia, or Egypt. In fact when the US did attempt to establish relations with Egypt, they ended up supporting politicians with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the very same terror organisation that sees the destruction of America as one of its ultimate goals.

      As I said in my previous post, the objective is to enable Syrians to resolve the conflict and rebuild their country, regardless of who is victorious. There should be a plan for a post-Assad regime that prevents them from degenerating into sectarian strife similar to what is happening in Afghanistan, Iraq, and, more recently, Egypt where extremist, ultra-conservative Muslims are intent on imposing their version of Islam on the entire population.

      1. Exactly, so why intervene now if they didn’t do so in other events like you mentioned? And why by the UN security council?

        Still, I don’t believe that any country should act as if it is above everyone else.

        Their intentions are good (“to enable Syrians to resolve the conflict and rebuild their country”) but doesn’t it sound too good to be true. Like how you put it, “It would be naive to assume that states interact with one another out of altruism.”

        Anyway, all we can do is speculate. I just hope Syria doesn’t end up like Iraq in case this war pushes through.

        1. It isn’t really speculation. All you have to do is observe. Watch and listen; apply a little critical thinking.

          The US president, like any politician is beholden to his constituencies. He may be accountable to the American people in principle, but in practice, he has to answer to the liberal political establishment that got him elected. And one of those factions (which includes the likes of US Minority House Leader Nancy Pelosi) believe firmly in using the military power of United States in situations that offend their sense of morality. In this case, Pelosi, and those of her stripe, are rabid “human rights activists.” Unfortunately, when you dissect their beliefs, you will find that they have a vision of how the world should be and what everyone’s place in it should be. And they will use any means at their disposal to impose their rather narrow-minded perspective. Even if in doing so they lack clear objectives and strategic planning.

          The US president’s actions now reflect the pressure being put on him from those quarters. To make up for their inadequacies in the past and to repair their failures in Middle East policy that have lead directly to the deaths of American citizens. While I do not agree with his ideology, I appreciate President Obama as a canny politician. He is reluctant to pursue intervention precisely because there is no comprehensive plan after his limited, “shot-across-the-bow” action. And that will likely only exacerbate the Syrian situation. Worse, it makes the United States weaker. That is why he has delayed coming to a decision, and is looking for support from the US Congress and Senate as well as the international community. This too is unfortunate. The longer he waits, the more the world sees him as indecisive and weak.

          One last thing. I submit that ANY country that has the capacity to act SHOULD act. Especially if the situation morally compels you to confront an evil similar to what is happening in Syria. To reject the call to action is a show of feeble-minded cowardice. But if one is to act, it should be for the right reasons with the proper response. This planned action by the US president is far from being the correct response.

        2. Even if we observe, watch, listen and think, I think that we could never really tell what’s on their minds. That’s why I said it’s speculation.

          Anyway, I share this view of yours: “Unfortunately, when you dissect their beliefs, you will find that they have a vision of how the world should be and what everyone’s place in it should be.”

          And I also believe that any country with the capacity to act should act but that country shouldn’t violate international laws in doing so.

      2. As I read the above response I have to ask, Whose objective? as in, ‘WHO’ do you think has the ‘objective’ to rebuild Syria? and why do you think that is anyone’s objective?

        The USA wants to prop up Middle-Eastern leaders to have access to Oil, and to control the flow of that Oil. After Syria it will be IRAN’s turn. The only other ‘objective’ is that the Israelies want to make sure that IRAN gets rid of its Nuclear weapons ‘program’ and so is pressuring the USA to attack Syria. Why would you ever think this is about anything else?

      3. @LEB,I thought you might say something bordering on having a clue, close..but NO.

        @ Johnny, you get more and more clueless with each post. You say that America or Obama did nothing in Libya or Egypt and you are completely wrong. NATO, led by the Americans toppled the Khaddafi regime, OR DID YOU MISS THAT ONE? Toppling the Khaddaffy regime is EXACTLY what they wanted to do and they did it and, AGAIN, it was never in their plans to re-build the country, it just wasn’t. They could but do not want to. Do you actually think that any Western leader gives a crap about the citizens of any of those countries?

        You have no clue but sure do think you do, looking at the lengths of those erroneous posts, which are un-readable in-correct pablum.

        At one point you go so far as to say that U.S. politicians are beholden to their constituents, HA!!!! I am going to let you go on thinking that, and do not let the fact that the politicians are the ones that signed into law the laws that allowed 40 million jobs to march right out of the country. Pay no attention to NAFTA, or let me see…The tax breaks for the 1% at the top and the import tariffs for the coprorations that allow all the 40 million jobs to stay off-shore. Yeah right, you go on with your delusions and tell everyone in the Philippines that USA politicians are beholden to their constituencies, LOL!!! and that Johnny Saint KNOWS what is going on in the USA. But the truth is YOU ARE FUCKIN CLUELESS.

        1. First let me point out that the use of profanity rarely conveys the proper emotion that a writer wishes to impart. More often than not, it is merely foul language. Its use usually communicates nothing more than the writer’s limited vocabulary and lack of critical thinking.

          The second thing I wish to point out is that Bjorn is a liar. Or as he might put it — A FUCKIN CLUELESS LIAR.

          Bjorn states that the United States took the lead in efforts to intervene in the 2011 Libyan civil war. This is erroneous. US involvement in Libya was, from the start, cautious and timid. It consisted primarily of diplomatic initiatives and hollow calls for sanctions that were largely ignored. It was French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron who were at the forefront of the move to oust Gaddafi. The French and the British were the main proponents for sanctions and the creation of a no-fly zone to prevent Gaddafi from attacking civilians. In fact, US President Barrack Obama was criticised for “leading from the rear.” It was only AFTER the British and the French completed planning for the no-fly zone and the Arab League agreed to the action that the US committed fully to the intervention in Libya.

          Most of the dealings the US has had with the countries involved in the Arab Spring have been less than laudable. The Obama administration has stood by the region’s corrupt dictators until their often bloody end.

          In Egypt, the US supported Hosni Mubarak until that support became untenable. The “reform” plan that was proposed by the Obama administration was to install the head of the secret police as his successor. When Mubarak was ousted the US threw their support behind Mohamed Morsi, a puppet of the Muslim Brotherhood. This is the same organisation that produced Usama Bin Laden and Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leaders of Al Qaeda.

          In Tunisia, Obama stood by Bin Ali, until the latter fled the country to Saudi Arabia, only then did Obama ask for his resignation. The duplicitous dealings of the US in the Arab world have them feigning calls for democracy while maintaining a policy of appeasement and security cooperation with repressive regimes — such as Bashar al-Assad’s Syria — over the decades.

          Bjorn also takes issue with a reference to US politicians being answerable to their constituency. But he somehow misses the following sentence which states that in practice, US politicians, such as President Obama, are beholden to the political establishment that elected him. The party machinery, the campaign contributors, the various interest groups, pressure groups, the labour unions, the lobbyists, and all the resident hangers-on that follow these people around, looking for a handout. Apparently, Bjorn only reads selected passages in order to fit them into the lies he tells himself and others.

          And then there is the tirade about NAFTA. This is somewhat confusing. The topic being discussed is the Syrian civil war. As far as I know, Syria isn’t a signatory to NAFTA. It isn’t in the same hemisphere or continent. What NAFTA has to do with intervention in Syria is unfathomable.

        2. @Johnny Saint

          It’s strange that US, perceived as champion of democracy, will support some dictators (Marcos as an example). It’s evident that US’s (and perhaps all contries’) foreign policies are simply rooted on self-interest.

        3. OnesimusUnbound,

          That’s the whole point of foreign policy. When we send ambassadors to the US or China or Saudi Arabia, we expect them to represent FILIPINO interests. NOT the interests of foreign nationals or their own personal agendas. We certainly don’t expect them to seek sexual favors from returning Filipino expats.

          (The Philippines is unique in that we have bent over backwards to give our RICHES to other countries. Particularly under Marcos’ agreements with the US/IMF/World Bank during Martial Law. Their policy completely wiped out the economy. Yet we put the blame solely the Marcos regime.)

          It is indeed very hypocritical for the US to maintain that it represents freedom and democracy and yet it undermines the same in other countries. For decades America’s attitude has always been “keep it in your backyard.” So when dealing with the US, just be sure that when they shake your hand, be sure to count your fingers to make sure they’re all there afterward.

  5. All of this maybe be for not. The US congress officials are now saying as many as 300 in congress already oppose the use of force so if President Obama strikes it will be without the consent of the people.

    @ Johnny Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid support the use of force along with most of the Progressive lawmakers. They are going all in on this. If President Obama does that it will seriously damage his second term.

    1. I believe I said as much, Jim. I believe that is going to be the problem going in if the US decides to follow through with a missile strike. To date none of these progressive politicians have articulated clear objectives in undertaking this action, much less a comprehensive plan for its aftermath. It isn’t the damage to Obama’s second term that concerns me. It’s the situation down the line if the Syrian conflict worsens and draws in more players in the region and the relationship the Middle East has with Western democracies and their allies.

      1. That is my fear that it will spill over into Jordan then to Saudi Arabia. Iraq is a mess but I think it would be a good idea to split the Kurdish area of Iraq off into a separate country as a balance in the region, maybe take some of the Kurdish area of Syria. They have oil and other resources that can support them. They are also western friendly and stable.

        Either way the US should just stay out of it unless Saudi is threatened.

        1. I don’t think it would simply because it would be stopped before it would start. Israel is already on alert and would squash any attempted attack

  6. When a powerful nation, like the US, intervenes in the affair of a troubled country practically almost always altruism is mixed up with the desire for political and economic stability, minimize death and destruction through military intervention and the preservation of both the interests of the intervening country and the countries involved in a conflict.

    On the current internal conflict in Syria, the desire of the US leadership to get in and stop the carnage will have domestic political implications which cannot be avoided. Whether the president is effective or not on foreign policy relations, whether he is popular or not, when it comes to war, it’s going to be free for all. Every time the US enters or plans to enter into a war there will be political repercussions which divides the populace considering that American lives will be put at stake. In the next coming days we will witness how American resolve will settle the Syria conflict.

    Lastly, the idea that the US intervention has for its object the resolution of the conflict and rebuild the country regardless of who is victorious is somewhat off base simply because Obama already called for Assad’s ouster.

      1. The attitudes of Filipinos will change eventually because of the new K+12 program. You must believe in the Filipino spirit and halt attacks.

        1. No. K-12 programs are not enough to change the attitude of Filipinos. The change has to occur at the sociocultural level, not on policy level. Yes, we believe in the Filipino spirit, a Get Real one.

    1. “The Americans should help us with our problem in China instead of going to Syria.”

      LOL. I guess the Philippines never did truly gain independence.

        1. And without help from the USA, do you think the Philippines can resolve the Spratly issue alone and independently?

  7. One last thing. I submit that ANY country that has the capacity to act SHOULD act. Especially if the situation morally compels you to confront an evil similar to what is happening in Syria. To reject the call to action is a show of feeble-minded cowardice. But if one is to act, it should be for the right reasons with the proper response. This planned action by the US president is far from being the correct response.
    ==========
    Again. confusion has marred the above statement.

    First, it says, if a country has the capacity to act it should do so particularly if it will confront an evil like what’s in Syria right now. If it rejects the call to action against evil it will be a show of feeble mindedness. It further added that if one has to act it should be for the right reasons. Fine.

    However, in the last sentence it stated that the planned action by the US president (against the evil in Syria) is far from being the correct response.

    Say what? I thought confronting an evil will justify a country to act? How come Obama’s plan to act would not be the correct response? I’m willing to be enlighten, please.

    1. Easy because there is no clear good side the US can take. Who do you back and will they win. Also no skin in the game, meaning there is no direct threat to the USA. It would be a feel good strike and oh yea kill a few innocents along the way.

    2. Leb,

      The only confusion here is your own. Pardon me for saying so but you have a tendency to mouth off without understanding the issues. And when others take time out to respond, you act offended. All of that could be avoided if you took time to analyze the topic of discussion and THINK before posting.

      With regards to your statement that the comment I made was confused: this is a classic example of your failure to understand the topic of discussion — the Syrian civil war.

      Let me be clear: there is nothing inconsistent with my statement. The use of weapons of mass destruction — in this case chemical weapons — is an abominable act. It has been universally condemned by the international community; world leaders have signed treaties to ban their production and deployment. If we condone any country’s use of chemical and/or biological weapons, we risk the use of these armaments in future conflicts in an escalating degree. This can only lead to destruction on an unparalleled scale. Worse, it could become uncontrollable. This is why international norms have been established against (the use of) chemical/nuclear/biological weapons. In the light of the alleged evidence Syria has crossed Obama’s “red line,” intervention in the Syrian conflict because of this escalation is justified.

      On the other hand, the United States’ response is the WRONG course of action. President Obama wants to launch a one time “shot across the bow” — a missile strike against Assad’s forces. There is no plan of action designed to deal with the situation on the ground after it. His administration cannot even articulate concrete goals that they seek to achieve with this military strike.

      If the missile strike somehow causes Assad to back down and allows the opposition forces to gain ground, it is likely to become a worse situation for the United States. As Mr Heydarian and the previous comment from Jim Arndt point out, the Syrian opposition consists of a number of disparate groups who don’t necessarily see eye to eye. Among them are radical Sunni Muslims like Jabhat al-Nusra who are affiliated with Al Qaeda. Providing military support to the opposition forces (the way the US is now) has a high probability of paving the way for an extremist, ultra-conservative element to dominate post-revolutionary Syria. Just as the Taliban did in post-Soviet Afghanistan. And these groups have made it clear for decades that they are motivated by HATRED for the United States and Europe. (If you read Mr Heydarian’s article above, you would know this is laid out clearly.) This is the very reason why the rest of the international community refuses to intervene in Syria at this time. Aiding the opposition the way the US proposes to effect regime change will likely install a government that loathes the Western Democracies and their allies (which includes the Philippines). That also means the assured loss of an area that is vital in terms of regional security and as a transshipment point for oil. Furthermore, if an extremist government is installed in Syria, greater tension will erupt because of its proximity to Israel, the primary target of these ultra-conservative Muslim groups.

      In other words, US military intervention for the sake of intervening not only destroys any possibility for a negotiated peace, it sets President Obama up with an opportunity to shoot himself in the foot. That is why Obama’s “shot across the bow” is a stupid move that has little practical value and has more to do with politics at home than any real attempt at foreign policy.

    3. @Leb, and now John Saint is going to tell you how confused you are!W-W-W-W-W-W-WHAT?
      Leb, really?
      Do you really not know:
      There is a lobby in the USA ,called AIPAC, and it is lobbying hard to get Obama to attack Syria. This lobby represents a country that denies having nuclear weapons, but it is a given that they do have them. That country is a tad bit nervous about its survival in the Middle-East and so having a big buddy like the USA really helps a lot. They also have considerable political clout inside the USA(for such a tiny country) as well. That is about all I will state at this time.

  8. Oh, believe me I understand the issue. In fact I so understand it that I’m not going to argue with the narration you made because there was really nothing new in what you said. It was merely a recap of what has been said, analyzed, speculated, assumed, predicted, etc. about Syria the past years. I never act offended, I think it’s the other way around. I defend or explain, yes, but offended no.

    Correct me I’m wrong, I don’t think I read the word ‘evil’ in your post above. That is the operative word you used in implying justification for a county to morally act against. Here again is what you said:

    “I submit that ANY country that has the capacity to act SHOULD act. Especially if the situation morally compels you to confront an evil similar to what is happening in Syria.”

    And here is the monkey wrench you threw in the end that twisted it somehow.

    “This planned action by the US president is far from being the correct response.”

    I mentioned ‘confusion’ because of the seeming contradiction to both sentences. Like I said I’m willing to be enlightened, corrected even. I treat this exchanges like heated (if it goes to that) arguments among online friends.

    1. Leb,

      You say you have heard similar arguments and analysis to the one I presented here. I find it unbelievable that you are unable to make the distinction between the need for intervention (which I support) against an evil act (please note the use of the word “evil” which for some reason you insist I use in this discussion) and the proposed action of the United States (which I oppose). “Intervention” does not automatically signify a military strike by the United States or NATO. I reiterate — this limited “shot across the bow” with NO corresponding efforts on the ground will not result in ending the civil war in a manner that will effect lasting and meaningful change in Syria. IT IS THE WRONG COURSE OF ACTION. It will likely serve to empower the toughest, most organised fighters — groups who are affiliated with terrorist organisations like Al Qaeda — and pave the way for their dominance in a post-Assad world. If that happens, you will have an even more repressive, ultra-conservative regime who will terrorize any who oppose it. Worse, that regime will commit itself to war against the United States, Europe, and Israel. How is this difficult to understand?

      If you still find a contradiction here, I must also question your ability to comprehend.

      1. J.S. – You say you have heard similar arguments and analysis to the one I presented here. I find it unbelievable that you are unable to make the distinction between the need for intervention (which I support) against an evil act (please note the use of the word “evil” which for some reason you insist I use in this discussion) and the proposed action of the United States (which I oppose). “Intervention” does not automatically signify a military strike……….

        If you still find a contradiction here, I must also question your ability to comprehend.”
        ———————————
        What distinction is there to be made when you already categorically stated that:
        “…..ANY country that has the capacity to act SHOULD act. Especially if the situation morally compels you to confront an evil similar to what is happening in Syria…”

        Your words, not mine.

        I know about intervention, militarily or what-not and the possible implications it might bring to all parties. But that is not what the content of your post was. According to you, there is evil similar to what is happening in Syria, which I agree, and you submitted that “any country that has the capacity to act SHOULD ACT TO CONFRONT AN EVIL. But how come the intent of Obama to intervene is wrong?

        You can question my ability to comprehend all you want but your statement needs to be reconciled because it argues with itself.

    2. @Leb, HINT: it is not about human rights, OK? Not the Syrians human rights anyway. Syria is backed by Russia, who also backs Iran. The destabilization of the Middle east and the propping up of USA puppets is a big part of one side of this. Russia has considerable resources invested in Syria and it is also located in a strategic stronghold Moscow wants to keep is another part of the picture, but it doesn’t stop there. BUT…….

      I repeat, this is not about the Syrian’s human rights. I am sorry to have to break the news to you, but I figured you already knew.

        1. There’s always a political dimension to international relations. That isn’t necessarily “wrong.” Each nation — whether it is a small country like the Philippines or a superpower like the United States and China — deals with other nations in the international community from the perspective of “what we as a nation can gain from this relationship when transacting with other nation states.” Then there’re also the practical considerations against intervening. As I pointed out several times earlier (from a humanitarian standpoint, if you want to put it that way) a limited, unfocused, unilateral strike by the US could pave the way for an even more repressive, ultra-conservative regime to take the place of Assad. One that uses terror and mass murder to suppress any opposition to their views of Islam. It’s happened before, and all within recent memory. In Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Egypt, just to cite the outcomes of the so-called “Arab Spring” of the last three years.

          And that is why I’ll state this again: An intervention is needed to stop the killing in Syria. But not a limited missile strike without coordination and/or planning and certainly not a unilateral action by the US that they will abandon soon after.

  9. Mr Heydarian,

    Your article implied that there are three courses of action that may be employed by the international community with regards to Syria.

    First, that the conflict simply be allowed to continue and let the belligerents sort the matter out. That is problematic. With the support each side is receiving, the war will degenerate into a Shia vs Sunni conflict with Assad, Iran and Hezbollah on one side and Saudi Arabia and Iraq on the other. Unless one side gains the upper hand, the war will split the country in two and possibly drag neighboring countries into the conflict and spill over into Israel.

    Second, the international community can arm the rebels with the goal of effecting regime change. That is — a more comprehensive military/diplomatic action than the US “shot across the bow.” This is problematic also in that this will only strengthen Al Qaeda and their extremist allies in the region.

    This will, as you pointed out, “decisively extinguish prospects of a ‘negotiated solution’ to the Syrian crisis, which is pivotal to ending the ongoing civil war.” That third option would be the most ideal — a multilateral peace negotiated through the United Nations.

    There is I believe a fourth option. The earlier comment by Jim Arndt touched on this already. NATO and/or the United Nations can create a safe area in northeastern Syria, abutting northern Iraq. This region is dominated by the Kurds. The UN/NATO should then establish a no-fly zone over this area. The Kurds, Christians, secular Muslims and other ethnic-religious minorities who oppose the war can begin to congregate here. This can be a basis for a truly democratic Syria. Furthermore, a relatively secure, stable region like this can serve as a starting point for creating a peace in the country by allowing people from ALL sides to congregate here.

  10. @ Saint, I really did not give more than a cursory glance at your rantings but you seem to think you have the market cornered on critical thinking AND YET,

    Nowhere in your posts did I see you mention who the real players are here, as if it has flown right over your head. This actually is a pretty serious issue right now that could led to a Full scale regional war or even a World War, and the major players are certainly not the Syrians or the Kurds the Sunni’s or the Shia’s, but your oblivious to this fact. The one country that will immediately jump in is not even mentioned anywhere in your posts. Your reply to the author is so off the mark I almost feel sorry for how stupid you are BUT your insults are just a li’l to egregious. You obviously think you know but you are REALly clueless. enjoy your stupidity, I AM.

    1. So — you didn’t bother to fully read, much less comprehend, the post and yet you feel it is appropriate to post lies about the US role in the Libyan intervention as a response. If anything that only amplifies your ignorance about an event that happened only two years ago. Sad.

      Are you so utterly enveloped by your conspiracy in the grand chess game between France, the US, Russia and Iran that you lose sight of the fact that there are actual Syrians dying right now? The number has exceeded 110,000 as of this September 2013. Add another 130,000 incarcerated in Assad’s prisons. With over two million people displaced.

      Did it not occur to your admittedly limited faculties that a safe zone fulfills the need for forging a peaceful settlement by creating a refuge for ALL Syrians from which negotiations can start and a new country built? Especially for those who oppose the war and Assad. Did it not occur to you that a safe zone allows Russia, France and the US and the UN to provide aid to those who really need it without having to overtly involve themselves in the fighting? That allows all sides to save face while still enabling them to have a presence in a main energy/oil processing and transshipment point as well as forces deployed in a major security hot spot.

      Apparently making an attempt at finding solutions to alleviate the suffering of millions caught in the middle of a brutal conflict is less important to you than making vacuous statements that emphasize your ignorance.

        1. Propaganda for what? For whom? You think Russia doesn’t have it as an objective to re-establish a presence in the Middle East? Or that the west doesn’t want to maintain their own sphere of influence there? Do you believe that people aren’t really dying in Syria? Or perhaps you prefer to let clouds of poison gas spread throughout the Levant? Do you think this war will resolve itself among the players involved?

        2. @Sahaquiel, Saint is a self-righteous flip-tard. He fancies his-self a ‘know-it-all’ but is really a ‘know-nothing’. the flip-tard thinks this is about the Kurds,Sunni’s,Shia’s and Syrians human rights and has no clue what it is really about.
          This is a battle between The USA, Israel & Saudi-Arabia on one side and Russia, Iran and Syria on the other w/China sitting in the Russians corner…for now.
          The Flip-tard Saint dreams of everyone getting along, living in peace and imagines scenario’s involving the populations in Syria( the kurds, Sunni’s, shia’s etc,etc) actually deciding what happens next in their hell-hole country.
          Clue-less/delusional to his flip-tard core, Saint fantasizes about who will decide what happens. Those that are going to dedide are everyone EXCEPT who the flip-tard thinks it will be.
          Filipino’s should ship his dumb-ass over there w/a guitar and the lyrics to “Kumbaya”, flippin’ idiot.

      1. @ Saint AKA/insulting idiot

        Now that Russia and the USA are meeting to discuss what will happen in Syria, MAYBE YOU UNDERSTAND? That the Kurds,Sunni’s, Shia’s & Syrian’s are not the ones that are going to decide the fate of what is now Syria.

        YOU are the one who makes the “vacuos statements” and are the “IGNORANT” one here! Go to any non-Philippine news org. RIGHT NOW and you will see it with your own ignorant eyes. Your own countrymen KNOW you are an idiot, so whatever insults you sling at me are folly on your part.
        YOU really are an idiot. try RT or CCTV instead of
        ABS-CBN. Surely you won’t learn anything, but…

  11. I oppose Syria intervention for if the rebels are allowed to take over, there’ll be GENOCIDE on the streets of Syria with Al Qaida/Saudi-backed Sunni troops massacring as many religious minority people as possible!

    If anything, it should be Saudi that gets overthrown and their Wahhabi establishment wiped out by NATO! It’s for the good of the world and most Muslims will rejoice at the collapse of the Saudi Royal Wahhabi regime – as will most sane people worldwide! As long as NATO is blinded by the oil cash and hobknobs these guys, their foreign policy will have ZERO credibility in my eyes!

    Mind you, I’m no fan of Assad, but the alternatives to him right now ARE WORSE so NO to intervention!

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