I walked around the premises of Lynn University in the state of Florida last Monday, where the last debate between President Obama and his opponent Mitt Romney, which focused on foreign policy, was held. The place looks like a huge carnival, with dozens of satellite transmission vehicles scattered among Hot Dog kiosks. 3,000 journalists were gathered to broadcast the biggest debate among two candidates, each seeking to convince American voters that he is the best to run the country for the next four years.
Syria, with its wounds and sufferings, had to finally get its share in the campaign carnival, which was first and foremost about domestic issues, including the economy then the economy. A statement from President Obama saying he will support the moderate forces in the violence-stricken nation. His opponent Romney revealed Iran is supporting Syria because it wanted access to the Mediterranean.
I left the debate in a pessimist mood: how would President Obama identify the “moderate” among the revolutionaries n Syria to support them or at least to allow those who want to support them to do so when he is elected? If he were to listen to me, I would have advised him to consider all Syrian revolutionaries as moderate, and support them consequently, and then he can exclude those who prove to be extremists. As for Romney, the Syrians will have to wait till his access to power in January so he can have a better understanding of the region’s geography, and its geopolitics, before he can take any decision.
The killing of the American ambassador to Libya in an attack in Benghazi has become a priority topic in the American elections and has spread fears among the American Public from the Arab Spring, which caused real damage to their brothers in Syria.
Those – who fired the rockets and are therefore more hunted by the American government than Bashar al-Assad – do not care about “The Public Opinion.” But this U.S. public opinion is what shapes the politics in democratic nations. The conservative American Right unhappy about the Arab Spring since its inception, based on its longstanding stance against the Islamists in whom he sees a direct danger to Israel, fueled the fire of Benghazi incident, and attempted, then and now, to diverge the positive stance of American President Obama towards the changes in the Arab World and turn into a negative position subject to blame. Mitt Romney for example said that the Arab Spring turned into “a dangerous chaos”, equating between the access of Islamists to power in Egypt and Tunisia, and Al-Qaeda control over north of Mali.
I heard about the theory on the importance of the “Public Opinion” from a Turkish journalist who co-participated with me in Istanbul, last week, in a close circle discussion session over the situation in Syria. He said that Arabs want Turkey to do everything, “but they have to help the (Turkish) Prime Minister Erdogan, who is facing an anti-war Public Opinion. The Turks are enjoying an unprecedented prosperity which they fear of losing in case their country slides into an uncertain war.” He even proposed what he believes would help Erdogan convince the Public Opinion towards a certain intervention in Syria. “If the Saudis and Qataris will send a squadron of their fighters to a military base in South Turkey, and declare this, as this will send a message to the Turkish Public Opinion that the Turkish government is not alone,” he said.
The dominant opinion is that without an American cover – which is unlikely to happen before the end of the elections – the Turkish government will not get involved alone in a major military operation, in spite of the presence of many alternatives that don’t necessarily require a U.N. resolution, such as Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. It provides that if a NATO Ally is the victim of an armed attack, each and every other member of the Alliance will consider this act of violence as an armed attack against all members and will take the actions it deems necessary to assist the Ally attacked.
Turkey can, for instance, decide a flight ban over North of Syria for security reasons, and due to the Syrian limited geographic extent, such a decision means a flight ban over all the Syrian territories, which will enable the world to establish safe areas in the north west of Syria, which is almost free in full, and therefore create a safe haven for hundreds of thousands of Syrian displaced in their own country, and empower the FSA to keep battling the regime and liberate additional territories until reaching Damascus, after depriving the regime form its competitive advantage of performing airborne attacks. Some way that the regime has lost its solemnity and structure as a regular army, and became just a sectarian militia, in its majority, with an air force and external relations with Russia and Iran, which now have the final word in Damascus.
The experts see that the Syrian regime isn’t controlling anymore its “dirty” deterring power – the chemical weapons – which is controlled directly by the Russians, who promised the United States and the West to keep them away from the conflict. But as the west doesn’t have much confidence in Russia, it adopted a Plan B, by sending special British and American troops to Jordan, ready for a swift intervention in Syria whenever they discover any movement of the well monitored weapons.
So, there is no actual need for the Stinger or Manpad STA missiles if the Syrian Air Force is isolated away from the battle, but the real need will be for more anti-tank missiles, which is easy to convince the Americans to pass them to the rebels without any cost, as the donors are ready to provide them, although the experts see no harm in delivering Manpad missiles to entrusted elements, as they are operated by batteries with a limited life span.
The logic says, as well the calculations of winning and losing, all tend to call for a limited swift intervention to put an end to the battle of Syria, to stop creating a stinking environment, favorable for Al-Qaeda growth. A lot was written in this context, and it was repeated over and over by dozens of experts, but none succeeded in changing neither the international stance nor the neighboring countries which prefer to sit and wait, maybe for the American elections, or maybe for something else! At the end of the day, the only thing that the Syrian people can rely on is the valor of their brothers, as it is not allowed that the Syrian people spends another Eid holiday the way they spent it a few days ago, while their brothers are enjoying their food and drinks and their security.