The Myth of Non-Intervention in Syria

By Rouba al-Fattal on October 26, 2011

The crackdown on Syrian demonstrators continues, despite growing international condemnation of the Syrian government. More than 2000 civilians have been killed and approximately 3000 have been reported missing. But why is the international community not threatening military intervention as it did in the case of Libya?

There has been a myth circulating that in Syria, anyone who calls for outside intervention is likely to be branded as a traitor; any Western threat of military action would therefore hurt the opposition more than the regime. But with the escalation that we have witnessed by the regime against the people up till now, and the continued hesitation of the international community, the demonstrations in Syria might be losing steam soon.   

The majority of Syrians know by now that President Bashar al-Assad's argument, that the uprising is the result of foreign meddling, is a fabrication used by the government to excuse its actions. However, the international community has clung to this myth as its way out of direct intervention. The main reasons why the international community chose not to act is because it is crippled by divisions among its members at the UN Security Council, by an economic crisis that left the most financially well nations of that community unable to stop unrests on their own territories, and by a growing fear of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) taking over power in a “democratic” Syria – as it seems the direction that Egypt is heading.   

The economic crisis in the United States and Europe could not have come at a worse time for the Arab world which is going through waves of change and revolutions. At a time when the transatlantic community is facing great insecurities about its financial future, it is hard to imagine that it will consider another military intervention on behalf of the Syrian population – even if it wished to – but more so if it sensed that the end result will be a MB-led Parliament.

As the international community washes its hands from the Syrian opposition, the remaining option for the Syrian people is to look for support to the Arab League and their Arab neighbours. However, that also seems wishful thinking when the most powerful and richest Arab states are themselves fearful of internal oppositions; when strategically the Iraqi government and Hezbollah in Lebanon do not want to see the Syrian regime tumble at any cost.

Perhaps it is too early to bemoan the Syrian revolution but if the international community does not put its strategic interests aside and come to an agreement on military actions, if the economy of the transatlantic community does to stabilise soon, and if the West stop seeing threat in the MB taking power after a democratic revolution in Syria – then maybe there is hope. Otherwise, sooner than later President Assad and his Alawite military apparatus will succeed in quelling the opposition – repeating with that President Hafez Assad’s suppression of the opposition in 1982. And if we have learned anything from history, in a short time this too shall be forgotten and forgiven by the international community.



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