Thursday, August 30, 2012

"The US & its allies should continue to avoid the no-fly zone trap!"

"... In fact, despite ongoing calls for international intervention by some opposition groups, an effective no-fly zone in Syria still has no international, regional or domestic buy-in. A large gap remains between the near unanimous sense of obligation to protect Syrian civilians and the means required to do so. Recently updated digests of US and global opinions on the Syrian crisis compiled by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Program on International Policy Attitudes and a recent CNN poll indicate that while a clear majority of world opinion supports a no-fly zone enforced by the US and its allies, it is unsupportive of military engagement. The poll also reveals negative regional attitudes toward the US role in the Syrian crisis thus far. Without regional backing or a mandate to engage the enemy, any potential no-fly zone would be rendered ineffective and potentially destabilizing from the outset.....
The Iraqi case also reveals that an extended no-fly or safety zone could encourage the further fragmentation of the Syria state. The uneven availability of international protection, alliance structures, and security forces in particular regions of Syria would likely reinforce growing fissures between groups and regions. Depending upon the nature of external support over time, different nationalist, religious and tribal communities could take advantage of their protected enclaves by advancing their own group agendas that challenge Syrian state unity. One of the by-products of the northern Iraqi no-fly zone and its accompanying 12-year safe haven is the present-day Iraqi Kurdish quasi-state.
Regional states have their own political baggage that could further complicate the efficacy of a safety zone and unsettle local relations. For instance, many Syrians are skeptical of Ankara’s calls for a buffer zone. Some worry about the influence of a Muslim Brotherhood regime backed by Istanbul while others are concerned about Turkey’s ambitions to extend its control over Syrian territories, referring to the 1938 İskenderun annexation and unresolved Cyprus problem. Still others see a buffer zone to control refugee flows in northern Syria as a pretext for Turkey to root out the PKK problem and shape the region in a post-Assad state.
In the absence of necessary conditions to implement a successful no-fly zone, as well as the “dangers of perpetual patrol,” the US and its allies should continue to avoid the no-fly zone trap ...."

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