Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Intervention 'A La Carte'"

'Ghalioun, Ziadeh and al...'
"... Al-As'ad's statements are indicative of an increasing trend of Syrian opposition members--or foreign activists lobbying on their behalf--making selective demands of outsiders to provide military support, albeit on their own terms.
This represents the trend toward "intervention a la carte," whereby overhead surveillance assets, logistical enablers, peacekeepers, armed drones, combat aircraft, ground troops, or smuggled weapons are demanded and presumably applied as opposition movements see fit.
This has been particularly evident in the public discussions on whether a no-fly zone (NFZ) should be imposed over Syria. An anonymous 25-year-old FSA member boasted, "The [Assad] regime would only last thirty days" with a NFZ. Another FSA member, Lt. Col. Abdullah Yousef, claimed, "If there is such a zone, the regime will not last for a week."... ... Syrian opposition groups do not agree on the intended objectives of international military support. All of the groups endorse President Assad's downfall, including the Syrian National Council, which lists "toppling of the regime" as a founding goal. Yet, rather than simply acknowledging that outside intervention is to help assure regime change, each group claims that they only need support to protect civilians. Although this strategy makes sense after Libya demonstrated that a regime change double-team by domestic and external forces is a resource intensive, uncertain, and open ended commitment, it is impossible to distinguish between the two intertwined objectives...
Finally, apparently beggars can be choosers, as Syrian opposition groups are also selective about which countries should participate in the intervention. An elder statesman of the opposition, Haitham al-Maleh, initially called for NATO to intervene under the principle of R2P, but later clarified his position:"I do not and did not agree to NATO intervention...NATO means America and I'm against that." Lt. Salem Odeh, a Syrian army defector, noted: "I just hope there will be Turkish military intervention. It's better, and they have longstanding blood ties from old times, and they are closer to the East than West." An exiled Muslim Brotherhood member agreed: "If other interventions are required, such as air protection...then the people will accept Turkish intervention. They do not want Western intervention." Another, more tolerant, activist in Deir al-Zour welcomed the idea that "Arab governments should make a no-fly zone over Syria."
Before NATO, Turkey (a NATO member, by the way), or "Arab governments" intervene in Syria, they must provide a plausible explanation as to how military force can succeed in civilian protection and/or regime change. Moreover, given the competing and disjointed demands among Syrian opposition groups, any intervention force should explain why it has privileged the interests of one group over another. Even then, the likelihood of the intervention succeeding is uncertain. The notion that external military force is an easily controlled tool that can be applied piecemeal to assure regime change is dubious. Nonetheless, if the level of violence against the civilian population worsens, and diplomatic and economic sanctions fail to compel a change in Assad's behavior, it is an option that must be debated and considered."

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