According to Lexington Herald-Leader columnist Robert Olson in the 01 March issue, “On Feb. 24, some 50 countries, notably minus Russia and China, calling themselves the ‘Friends of Syria,’ gathered in Tunis calling for more forceful intervention in response to the bloodshed occurring. Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Saud al-Feisal, the main advocate of Asad's overthrow and the main United States ally in the Middle East, along with Israel and Turkey, called for armed intervention.”
The “Friends of Syria” tag has little to do with the actual relationship between Syria and the other countries. Friends do not call for armed intervention in another friend’s country but that’s neither here nor there. The so-called “friends” are dedicated to the overthrow of Syria President Bashar al-Assad, ostensibly because he is murdering insurgents within Syria though he is not bothering anyone else. Indeed, U.S. President Obama and State Secretary Clinton have publicly called for his departure, the implication being through any means possible.
The Middle East elephant in the living-room is Iran, greatly hated by folks such as the Saudi fat princes, who understand quite well that but for the good graces of George H.W. Bush in 1991, Saddam Hussein would be in Riyadh today and they would be either waiters or wine-tasters, working in the oil-fields or part of the aquifer under the deserts. The current fear is that Iran’s Terrible Twosome of Ayatollah Khameini and Irani butcher/strongman Ahmadinejad will stir up real trouble, perhaps eventuating in doing what Bush stopped Saddam from doing.
So…Syria is of little actual importance or threat; however, it is Iran’s only ally in the Middle East, maybe also a sort of dumping ground for armaments…maybe even the location of Saddam’s WMD not found in Iraq in 2003 and onward. The fat princes don’t give a fig about the Syrians, so disregard any altruistic caterwauling. When they felt threatened enough by al Qaeda thugs a while back, they got tough and ran them out of their doll-house.
The Saudis also invaded tiny, neighboring Bahrain in March 2011, albeit supposedly at the invitation of the Bahraini government, to put down an “Arab Spring” uprising by the Bahraini hoi polloi, so there’s little doubt as to the princes duplicitous ideas about the people’s right to protest. For them, it was wrong in Bahrain last year but it’s okay now in Syria.
The hypocrisy is obvious. Significantly, the governing Muslims in Bahrain, Iraq and Syria were/are in a pronounced religious minority, thus holding on to power by use of force, either theirs or someone else’s, such as in the case of Bahrain most recently. Assad’s Alawite ruling tribe comprises only 10-12% of the population. Sunni Muslims make up 74%, but have no military standing. Saddam’s Sunnis were only 40% of Iraq’s population, while the Shiites made up 60%. This accounts for the bloody payback in Iraq now, as the Shiite government works its will, courtesy Uncle Sam.
But, to the point of intervention! Code for what happened in Tunisia is quite simply that the U.S. should just DO something about evil Assad, such as what it did to Libya through a simple direct order by Obama – bomb the bejesus out of Qaddafi and the Libyans, never mind the Congress or the American people, who were not consulted last March lest Obama’s misplaced and disgraceful effort at being a military leader get unhinged at the gate.
Ironically, the Saudis walked out of the “friends” meeting because of inactivity, i.e., nobody was planning on bombing the bejesus out of Assad’s living-room. What a laugh! The Israelis routinely bomb Syria whenever they figure to destroy a threat to their country. They’re not about to join a full-scale attack, though one never knows what Obama, a loose cannon, might do.
Syria has 304,000 active troops; 4,950 tanks; and 830 aircraft. Saudi Arabia has, respectively, 233,500; 1,305; 1,200, not a small force and its northern-most point is only 150 miles from Damascus. Okay…the princes might figure those odds not good enough to correct the “inactivity.” Turkey has, respectively, 612,900; 4,246; 1,940, and shares a 540-mile border with Syria. On paper at least, it could end the inactivity by invading Syria with its overwhelming force tomorrow.
Not good enough? Put the forces of Saudi Arabia and Turkey together and VOILA! the combined force includes 846,400 troops, 5,551 tanks, and 3,140 aircraft – enough power to blow Syria away in (as Obama said about the seven-month war with Libya) days, not months. So, if the fat princes want to end the inactivity and “friend” Turkey wants to help, there’s the perfect solution. Quit crying about other “friends” not doing anything, and get on with it.
That won’t happen. Two countries which are not “friends of Syria” but are friends of Syria are China and Russia, who do not share the “inactivity” position, meaning that military intervention in Syria could precipitate the next world war. Even Obama probably understands that, though one could wonder if he might order an attack and then go on vacation somewhere to announce it, as was the case with Libya.