Friday, November 1, 2013

Thanks God America didn't attack Syria

November 1, 2013
By Saeed Qureshi
 By backtracking from military action against Syria, president Obama averted destruction and wholesale massacres in that war torn country. Let me explain what this remarkable accomplishment was made possible.
For a country that is always ready for military solution of the global disputes, abandoning a brutal attack on Syria to dislodge Bashar- al-Assad is well earned laurel for president Obama.

In one of his statements president Obama had categorically declared that he had made up his mind to debilitate incumbent Syrian regime’s military infrastructure because Syrian regime was using chemical weapons against its own people.

In September, the United States seemed poised to launch limited, punitive air strikes on the Bashar regime for its alleged use of chemical weapons. Already four U.S. destroyers equipped with Tomahawk land-attack missiles were en route to take positions in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The underlying aim of this limited strategy was to degrade Assad’s air power capability without flying US aircrafts over the Syrian air space.

The main strategy was to fire naval-launched cruise missiles or aircraft stand-off systems from international or allied territory of Israeli, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and even Italy. Besides, the United States planned to recruit and train huge number anti-government rebels within minimum time period as a bulwark for future combats. The purpose of this military blitz was to degrade Assad’s air power capability without flying US air-crafts over the Syrian air space.

Yet this military action was much less in ferocity and than that carried out on Libya. But all of sudden the whole frightening spectacle underwent an upbeat change. There were several critical developments that deflated the American plans for the military onslaught that would have exacerbated the colossal sufferings of the Syrian people. It was indeed a huge timely good riddance.

What president Obama did was first to pacify and take the conservative and pro-war lobbies within America on board by declaring the attack. It was much to the delight of the rightist both within and without America and the war proponents, who certainly gloated over yet another doomsday havoc inflicted upon a Middle Eastern regime with brutal authoritarianism.

But then in order to deflate this frenzy for another war he conditioned the attack on Syria with the Congressional authorization for use of force. It was indeed a very wise step. While the Congress was in consultation, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the resolution by a 10-7 vote that not only authorized a limited military response, but also giving Obama an initial victory in his push to win congressional approval.

 Thus president Obama kept buying the time for stalling the perceived action. Now he wanted the European partners also to join the American initiative. Bu such a hope and expectation died down when the British parliament voted against bludgeoning Syria. The turning away of the staunchest ally of America was a formidable setback for America to move on with its planned Syrian military adventure.

From among other European partners, Germany was reluctant to join the military intervention in Syria while France was all out in its favor. It meant Europe did not have a common stand in case of Syria, though in case of Libya all were united along with United Nations ‘approval.

Despite the Security Council’s disapproval, President Obama declared that “I'm comfortable going forward without the approval of a United Nations Security Council”. So against all odds still president Obama was determined to attack Syria. Yet one could perceive that president Obama’s’ heart was not in going solo in carrying out a mission that had its pitfalls and good and bad repercussions.

But then Russia moved in with her plan. In the light of that plan, The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a breakthrough agreement to eliminate all of Syria’s chemical weapons. The UN resolution came close on the heels of two weeks intensive diplomacy after “Russia and the U.S. reached an agreement in Geneva to avert an American military strike against Syria if Assad agreed to relinquish his poison-gas arsenal”. That resolution was drafted by UK, USA and France much to the satisfaction of United States and UN members in locating, destroying and moving the Syrian chemical weapons.

President Obama’s apparent stubbornness paved way for a peaceful and acceptable solution that would have wreaked havoc in a country already mauled and destroyed by a four years’ civil war. In accepting the Russian brokered plan President Obama unlike his predecessor president George W Bush did not insist on resorting to the military option that could have jeopardized Obama’s standing as the winner of Nobel peace prize.

No doubt the credit of winding up American military presence in Iraq and now in Afghanistan by next year has become an indelible part of history with president Obama as its hero.

His military action against Libya was with consensus but in case of Syria a solo American attack could backlash and undermine Obama’s standing as a votary of peace. That stigma would have never been erased. But perhaps it was the display of very delicate shade of diplomacy that finally culminated in a solution acceptable to all the parties on both sides of the isle.

For the domestic war lobby and notably the Republicans, he steered clear of the insinuation that he was dilly dallying on taking action against Bashar regime. On the external front he showed stubbornness on the decision of attacking Syria that finally led to the United Nations Security Council’s resolution that was a plausible and peaceful way-out and without disastrous consequences.

The Syrian regime has faithfully complied with her obligations under the UN resolution of October 4, 2013. Happily, today the inspectors confirmed that Syria’s entire declared stock of chemical weapons has been placed under seal. The OPCW also announced that Syria's chemical arms production equipment had been destroyed. And that is monumental achievement because this has been achieved not by war but through diplomacy and peaceful means.

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