Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

In Syria: Don’t stop intervening | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Today in Syria everybody is beginning to think about and prepare for the post-Assad era, despite what continues to be said in this regard. Of course, there are those who talk naively and others who are talking maliciously. Therefore, one must be cautious about the next stage, and this must be handed far better than it was elsewhere, and this includes the manner of dealing with the Syrian revolution.

In our modern history, there are two experiences that we must mediate on, namely the Afghan and Iraqi experiences. In both experiences, Arab and Western intervention proved to be a costly failure, whilst the ultimate consequences of this were catastrophic. In Afghanistan, at the time of the Soviet invasion, the situation was portrayed as if this were jihad, which was not true. Indeed the gravest and most critical mistake that occurred was allowing the so-called “mujahedeen” to rise up against those who had previously sponsored and armed them, whether in the region – Saudi Arabia and others – or in the West, such as the US, Britain and others. Therefore, half-intervention is far more dangerous than non-intervention. This was the lesson learned from Afghanistan which was transformed into a den of terrorists. As for Iraq, the gravest mistake was failing to realize the fact that the Americans were determined to invade. There should have been Arab intervention; this is not to champion the invasion, but rather to temper the raging American bull that rushed to dissolve Iraq’s army and tear apart the country’s social fabric, then handed Iraq as a whole over to Iran. Accordingly, the lesson learned from the invasion of Iraq was that comprehensively refraining from intervention in this case resulted in the sacrifice of a major and important Arab state.

Today, we are facing the Syrian experience, which is completely different from all other Arab experiences. Syria is a state that every wolf in the region covets, particularly Iran, Hezbollah and Israel. Whilst the Muslim Brotherhood and other extremists also covert Syria, particularly when considering its religious history. It is extremely easy to tickle the sentiments of naïve people with regards to Syria’s historical role in wars and invasions. What is even more dangerous is the cunning propaganda about the presence of the Al Qaeda organization in the country. The aim of such propaganda is not apparent today, but this will be clear to see tomorrow. To clarify, whenever the presence of extremists is rumoured in Syria today, nobody is able to either confirm or deny this. Therefore, we find many intellectuals who initiate discussion with the conditional phrase “in the event that there are extremists…”. However the real objective of those who have promoted this malicious campaign regarding the claims of Al Qaeda presence is to ensure that following al-Assad’s ouster, when terrorist operations are carried out, it would be easy to say that Al Qaeda is behind all this, along the lines of what happened in Iraq. In reality, Al Qaeda only operated in Iraq under the auspices of Iran; al-Zarqawi, just like other Al Qaeda leadership, visited Tehran; whilst Iran is now hosting many of these same leaders today.

Therefore rational Arabs must today draw up a clear strategy for the post-Assad era; a strategy that must continue even after the tyrant is toppled, regardless of the situation. This strategy must confront all those who continue to bear arms following the al-Assad ouster with an iron fist. Furthermore, all the Arab Spring mistakes must be avoided, most notably the Muslim Brotherhood coup in Egypt. Thus, to put it simply, what is required is for those who are intervening in Syria to continue this intervention even after al-Assad is toppled. They must not stop this intervention, for half-intervention is more dangerous than non-intervention, as evidenced by the Iraq experience.