Is Syria Becoming A Political Tool?

Streets of Aleppo, Syria, 19 Sept. 2012

In the pantheon of despotic leaders, it is easily understood that both Libya’s Gaddafi and Syria’s Assad were equal in the tyrannical curmudgeon category. So, then it begs the question why the United States was so willing to bring down the Gaddafi regime, and yet push the Syrian conflict away as though it was a plagued leper?

When the Obama Administration supported the rise of the Arab Spring, it was ostentatiously a support for the rise of democratic regimes in North Africa. If it was truly a support for the rise of democratic governments, then why not the support for Yemen as they had their revolutions also? This opens the door for wide speculation. Let’s put to bed one major inherent falsehood.

Oil. If supporting revolution for oil was really the root of Obama’s outward support, then his administration was misinformed. Though unfathomably cruel, to the point that his own immediate family was trying to distance themselves from him, the Gaddafi family was a great deal more stable than the uncertain future of Libya. In fact, since Libya handed over the Lockerbie bomber to England (and prior), most western oil companies were able to operate in Libya with little to no interference from the Gaddafi government.

So, why then offer aid to an unstable, and mostly unknown, rebellion against Gaddafi, and yet leave hundreds of thousands to die in Syria?

Some reasons bantered about include: Geopolitics, military strength/Allies, local factions, and war fatigue. All but one of these makes sense when looking inward toward U.S. politics. Let’s look at the options in more detail.

1. Geopolitics: As State Farm says, “Like a good neighbor.” In the case of Libya, the choice to send military aid was an easy one–Egypt and Tunisia were already leading the way in the Arab Spring rebellions, so what was there to lose? Syria, on the other hand, borders Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, and Jordan. The proponents of geopolitics as the reason we are not involved (or even seeing the events unfolding on television right now) is because the United States does not want to be involved in a volatile Middle East crisis right now. This does not hold water in the fact that the Obama Administration is involved with relations between Iran and Israel (two players in the Syrian game also). What they are really saying is that Obama is playing careful right now…

2. Military Strength/Allies: Weapons of Mass Destruction. Where have we heard that phrase before? It becomes a tricky play when deciding to invade a foreign, sovereign nation. We could call it a humanitarian effort, but we aren’t or we’d be there yesterday. We could call it an attempt to rid a nation of using WMDs against their people. Yes. Syria DOES have bio- and chemical-weapons. They also have a darn strong military. However, so did Gaddafi. His chemical weapons cache was found after his death; a cache that he was supposed to have dismantled in 2003. What Gaddafi did not have, though, is a stable military. He preferred to keep his army fragmented in order to keep a powerful military coup from happening. Either way, WMDs can’t be the reason either. The last thing the President needs in an election year is a war over WMDs.

So then, where does that leave the Allies segment?

Gaddafi was summarily dismissed by even the Arab League. He was a lone wolf, in a wolf kill zone. Assad? He’s got the support of Tehran, and, in turn, Hezbollah and Hamas. It could also be assumed with Tel Aviv’s thorny relationship with Iran at this moment, that Netanyahu would prefer the stable, however bloody, Assad regime than the unknown squabbling for power on his back door.

3. Local Factions: One of the biggest stumbling blocks for the EU, China, Russia, and the United States in dealing with Syria’s uprising is who do we work with. Even the various factions couldn’t tell anyone that answer. In part, the reason the West is avoiding Syria is because Syria cannot tell us who to talk with. If the United States did commit troops to the crisis, would we also be responsible for the clean up, and, who do we pick to rebuild the mess?

4. War Fatigue: Ultimately, the reason that the United States is not dealing with, or even acknowledging the crisis (as seen with the dearth of coverage on the major networks), Syria is because it is an election year. Simply put. Around sixty percent of Americans feel the effort in Afghanistan is a waste, and nearly fifty-five percent want the troops pulled out now. Looking at the geopoliticalmilitary strength/allies, and local factions arguments, what is not being discussed, but hidden in the messages, is that it would be political suicide for any politician to argue for soldiers in Syria. WMD comments would fly from the party machinery. The majority of Americans would vote against the candidate that said we should be in Syria simply because they are tired of Afghanistan. Because of Assad’s military strength, it would be a prolonged war or it would be a television nightmare with civilian casualty numbers soaring higher than Nielsen ratings for the Super Bowl.

Mitt Romney has said that he would be willing to commit troops to Syria if he were elected in order “to prevent the spread of chemical weapons”. Obama, on the other hand, has been more elusive on his Syrian stance and has called out Romney for “suggesting that we start another war.” It is hard to believe that the Obama Administration would see Gaddafi a logical target and ignore Assad and Syria. As it stands, there are reports that the Administration is working via the CIA to funnel weapons through Turkey and Saudi Arabia to the Syrian rebels. As it is, we are war-weary and neither candidate wants to get tied to a strong Syrian policy this close to the election.

Unfortunately for the people fighting for their lives each day on the bloodied streets of Aleppo, America will continue to ignore their crisis for another six weeks, at the least. Maybe then, something will happen; most likely, Syrians will be on their own until after the inauguration, and even then the newly elected President will hope that the crisis in Syria resolves itself.

CIA and FBI Find Men Responsible For Benghazi Attack

Tripoli–Two days after President Obama oversaw the return of three Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, killed in the Consul attack in Benghazi, members of the U.S. State Department, along with agents of the CIA and FBI, met with Libyan leaders in Tripoli. The objective of the meeting was to find the man or men responsible for the attacks.

Obama had said, via his weekly radio address, “I have made it clear that the United States has a profound respect for people of all faiths,” Obama said in his weekly radio address. “Yet there is never any justification for violence …. There is no excuse for attacks on our embassies and consulates.”

In response to repeated accusations from the Republican Party, including Presidential candidate Mitt Romney,

I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.

Obama has ordered a full-scale investigation. “I will not be soft on terrorism,” Obama said during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “I will not allow Benghazi to become another Beirut.” This is an obvious reference to the 1983 Beirut Marine Barracks bombing; an event that would bring all the jihadist splinter groups together under one banner–Hezbollah.

The sudden about face from the Obama Administration is leaving Republicans confused. “Obama’s Cold War references harken to a day when Truman ran the Presidency and the buck stopped there,” said a senior Romney advisor. “We’ll have to see if Obama is trying to shape himself in these last few days before the election as another Truman, or if he will continue with Clinton’s foreign policy of lobbing a few missiles into sovereign nations and calling it foreign policy.”

“Obama is pulling out a card from the Republicans,” an Obama aid said. “People want quick justice, just like Reagan after the discotheque bombing in 1986. Obama is willing to get his hands dirty.”

Knowing the likelihood of singling out the attackers on the Consulate building attack as a sketch to the bad side of worse to none, Obama himself came up with the plan now being implemented in Tripoli.

Along side Libyan leaders, Senior State Department officials toured Abu Salem prison. Several men facing the death penalty under the newly installed Sharia law were interviewed by intelligence officers from the three agencies. The number one question was whether or not the men would be willing to stand trial for the attack, be found guilty, and executed. The rationale by a State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity was “they are already going to be put to death, we might as well give them the opportunity to save face before their nation.” The interviews lasted about three hours.

Three men facing the death penalty for the rape of a young girl have agreed to the tribunal which will be held next week in Tripoli. In accordance with Sharia law, the United States will pay diyya to the families of the three men in exchange for their cooperation.

“This should appease the stupid, war-hawk, Neo-Cons,” an Obama spokesperson said in Tripoli.