The United States’ reluctance to involve itself in the Syrian conflict is puzzling to most, considering the amount of domestic bloodletting the regime has indulged in. However Bashar Al-Asad has limited the risk of intervention by not letting the conflict spill over beyond his borders. Due to the reasons below, one should not look to Washington, or other occidental powers, for resolution. The best hope for intervention rests with Arab players more capable of untangling local problems and less likely of enflaming grievances. Here is why:
- Syria is a close ally of forces opposed to the West generally, and to Iran specifically, making ground action there much more likely to encounter “friction”.
- Syria falls under the patronage of Russia, and seemingly now of China, making a move against it a move by proxy against these heavier weight players.
- Syria has had a heavy hand in Lebanon over the years, and has several contested border points with it. This makes any outbreak of unrest an invitation for unknown variables and the opening of old wounds.
- Syria is deeply mired in the Arab Israeli cold war, with a part in the contested Golan Heights. It is also a commonly held belief that destabilised or weak states make for ideal terrorist safe havens. It is likely Israel actually wants a strongman to retain control of this 90% Muslim population.
- Syria is already home to over 1 million refugees that fled the Iraq conflict, and roughly half a million Palestinians. Who would care for them, and who would politely convince these disenfranchised men and women not to see this an opportunity? By the way, this represents over 5% of the country’s population, without citizenship.
- Syria produces less than ¼ of the oil output of Libya, making any profiteering incentives unsound.