Empowering the Syrian rebels: ‘Whose line is it anyway?’ - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Empowering the Syrian rebels: ‘Whose line is it anyway?’

To some it’s just a civilian revolt with Syrian citizens fighting for their livelihood and freedom. To others it’s a glaring concern for   a stockpile of chemical weapons at risk of falling into the hands of anti-American extremists. Many contend that human problems can find solution in an honorably brokered communication and the push for a diplomatic resolution should continue. Indeed!  Many scribbling lines are drawn in the sand, yet ‘the slaughter of the innocent’ endures.

In a civil war that has dragged on for more than two years, the United States deters being militarily dragged into the conflict. However, since  a US intelligence exposé  that Assad’s forces likely used chemical weapons on  his own people, Syria has traversed president Obama’s ‘red line’ making it clear  that diplomacy  as the  ‘art nouveau’ of forging  relationships without resorting to arguments or conflicts has failed. Diplomacy’s assertive loom of conducting international relations is futile in the face of mounting deaths.  According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights more than 70,000 lives have been lost.

Evidently, negotiations can’t go on incessantly. Words can’t forever be wrapped in silk.

But in fearful remembrance of the faulty intelligence used to substantiate the assault on Iraq in the hunt of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons that turned out to be non-existent, a “game changer” is actually needed to reconsider the range of options that are available.

Of course, Assad’s ruthlessness and inflicting pain and suffering  on his people  deserves much comment, even as Syrian ambassador to the UN  Bashar Ja’afari confirms  that  Syria would never use chemical weapons; but while the world waits to confirm sources of whether  Assad did in fact use sarin gas on a small scale,  more lines are being drawn.

While Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu lament that “Iran is getting closer to crossing a crucial “red line.”, – a line that’s not supposed to  be crossed, Assad on the other hand seems content to continue sculpting a weaponry framework with Iran, Russia and Hezbollah.

It must also be seen that if Iran is pushed into a situation where their nuclear arsenal is endangered, the Syrian situation could escalate into a full scale war with Israel.  Iran has issued furtive warnings for years that it might attack Israel if international sanctions and big power diplomacy curbs its ambition to develop atomic weapons.  With one of the worst human rights record in history and already labeled as an ‘axis of evil’ and an outpost of tyranny and now developing nuclear weapons, empowering the rebels might only add to increasing Iranian hostility in the region.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reports that “there are currently many foreigners fighting in Syria.  Documented foreigners are mostly Arabs who come from Libya, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia, and to a lesser extent from Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, Morocco, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon, Iraq, and Turkey. Some of them have spent time in western countries for studies or work, and others are western-born Muslims or Muslim converts. Several fighters came to Syria from the Caucasus arena, and there are even two from China. Among the foreigners fighting in Syria are also many fighters from the former Soviet Union, including some who have fought in Chechnya.”

Noticeably, empowering the Syrian rebels present the major dangers of weapons leakage to Hezbollah and potential attacks on Israeli citizens in the Golan Heights.  Arming the rebels is crucial and can usher in the reign of   militant Islamic forces throughout the Middle East, which in time will turn itself as a double edged sword against the US because no one knows with added certainty who’s leading the rebellion.

Moreover, the doctrine of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ still prevails and deception and betrayal entangled in the cobwebs of politics can also dissipate friendship in a matter of seconds. The Syrian group the al-Nusra Front which has established a stronghold in the north of Syria and which the US has just added to its global terrorist list as an alias of al-Qaeda will find time to revel in its glory.

A new narrative is urgently needed in the Syrian conflict. A political solution and its pledge to create a pluralistic state that discards extremism and terrorism is the desired requisite. Morally, we all have a duty to draw the line and the Syrians have a right to self -defense, but a second thought must be contemplated on in the haste to arm the enemy.

Obviously a line must be crossed, but empowering the Syrian rebels to  ensure Iran don’t reach nuclear capabilities, or to hasten an end to the conflict shouldn’t  be  one of those lines, for  where the line ends that’s where  it will always begin. The line is all we have we have to live by.

Our lives are on that line.


About the author

Rebeca Theodore

Rebeca Theodore is a national security and political op-ed columnist based in Washington DC. Her work has appeared in various newsprint throughout the Caribbean, Canada and the US. Follow her on twitter @rebethd. Contact the author.
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