You can joke about how history repeats itself in our region, specifically with the al-Assad regime, where Lakhdar Brahimi is now envoy to the Syrian crisis after he was previously envoy to Lebanon, when he had to resolve a crisis that was caused by Hafez al-Assad. You can ridicule how Walid Moallem was unable to leave Damascus to go to New York recently and had to travel from Hariri airport in Beirut. You could also make fun of the fact that today we are facing the age old proposal of sending Arab troops to Syria, after the same special proposal was put forth for Lebanon decades ago.
You can put all of the above down to the fate of our region, but you cannot say it is possible to implement the proposal to send Arab troops to Syria. As I said on January 16th, along with others of course, what is most important is genuine, wide-ranging international intervention, and then it may be appropriate for Arab forces to intervene under the international umbrella. To only call for Arab intervention is unenforceable, and this may prolong the length of the Syrian crisis that desperately must come to an end.
Mere international mobilization, even outside the umbrella of the Security Council – as long as the Russians are impeding any resolution within it – through a coalition of the willing countries and the declared imposition of safe areas and a no-fly zone, would hasten the collapse of what remains of the tyrant of Damascus’ forces. This is what many dissident Syrian officers are saying. Of course, the matter would then require further earnest moves, namely genuine military action to stop al-Assad’s massacres and not incite the situation further. This would then end the crisis with the fall of al-Assad, and initiate the longer and harder stage of rebuilding the country as a whole.
To say “send in the Arab troops”, even with the agreement of Egypt – as an advisor to the Egyptian President was quoted as saying on Saturday in Turkey – or Tunisia, or even the bulk of the Arab states, this is not feasible and will not end the humanitarian crisis in Syria in the manner that is required. What is needed is collective international action, urgently, for several reasons.
To start with, there is a genuine humanitarian disaster taking place, and there is a danger to the Syrian entity as a whole, as a result of the crimes al-Assad’s forces are committing against the Syrians and the history of Syria itself. All this is happening with the genuine support of Russia and Iran while the whole world is watching with a strange air of indifference. This is especially strange given that what we are witnessing is an unprecedented level of criminality in our modern Arab history, whereby a criminal regime is running riot against its own citizens. What is worse is that an advisor to the Iranian Supreme Leader has said that al-Assad will be victorious over the Syrians, the Arabs and the West, and that this victory will also be a victory for Tehran. This means that it is no longer a story about external interference, it is the story of a regime that is a mere puppet for Iran, seeking to rule Syria with an iron fist and corrupt the entire region. So why is there not genuine international action to remove this regime, especially as the al-Assad regime is the worst to have ever assumed power in our region?
Therefore, sending Arab troops to Syria is impractical, what is needed is wide-ranging international intervention that the Arabs can be a part of, in order to intervene decisively and not impose half-measures.