Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Stay Out Of Syria

Are we crazy? After the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan to even entertain the idea of any form of intervention in Syria is an exercise in scaling moonbeams. Yet that’s what those doughty warriors, Senators McCain and Lindsey, are proposing. The toppling of democracy in Egypt only emphasizes the instability of this part of the world and how important it is to cease meddling in Middle Eastern affairs.

Of course part of this rush to conflict is to make President Obama pay for his ill-considered “red line” threat over the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime. As if the estimated 90,000 already slaughtered in this civil war weigh nothing in relation to the 150 or so poisoned with Sarin and other types of nerve gas.

It’s time to bite the political bullet, Senators; no matter how much it sticks in the craw, Barack Obama has won two presidential elections and because of his achievements in ending a couple of wars, stewarding the country through a financial meltdown, and extending affordable health care availability, his face will probably end up on some coin or bank note.

Still, not to worry, Hillary Clinton will be a lot easier to deal with in three years – and meanwhile both of you will have major moments in the sun if you can persuade your recalcitrant Republican House colleagues to pass a sensible immigration bill. In the meantime, later for military involvement in any more Muslim countries – this generation has enough wounded warriors, thank you.

You think Iraq was a quagmire? It’s got nothing on Syria. The Crusaders came barreling down this biblical highway on their way to Jerusalem and the natives, understandably, have had a thing about infidels meddling in their internal affairs ever since.

By all means send humanitarian aid and plenty of it, not only are up to 2 million people homeless and hungry, a great deal of the infrastructure of the country has been destroyed. But forget about introducing no-fly zones, taking out the Syrian Air Force or neutralizing Assad’s supply of chemical weapons.

It’s hard to imagine how this conflict can ever be resolved. A small sect of Alawites are hanging on to power for dear life because they know it’s curtains for them if the majority Sunnis ever take control.

The Alawites have always been mistrusted by their Sunni neighbors; if they were just simple Shiites who revere the prophet’s cousin, Ali, they might be acceptable, instead they have the nerve to celebrate Christian and Zoroastrian feast days, believe in reincarnation, and, most importantly, don’t like anyone telling them what to do.

As we know from bitter experience in the North of Ireland, sectarianism is a curse; it’s now playing out its poisoned hand in Syria where the Alawite 12% of the population, led by the Assad family, have been ruling the roost for almost half a century. Russia, with its naval bases, and Iran, with its support of Hezbollah, are major players on the Assad side, but in the end the numbers favor Syrian’s large Sunni population.

This is a battle we should run a mile from; it will play out of its own accord, partition will most likely be the bloody, and perhaps desired, result.

We have our own nation building to do. Instead of sending young men and women off on more impossible foreign adventures, give them employment at home rebuilding roads, bridges and cities. Oh, but I forgot, that would only add to the deficit, as if bombs, bullets, and American lives come cheaply.

The last thing Syria needs right now is a new crusade. The Sunni rebels, including hard-line Al Qaeda sympathizers, will get armaments from their co-religionists in the oil rich Gulf States; any help we give should be in the form of medical supplies and other humanitarian aid.

Senators McCain and Lindsey would be better off employing their considerable political skills in securing decent and sensible immigration legislation. It’s an issue close to Irish hearts and many of us will be very grateful to them for their efforts.

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