All quiet on the Syrian Front

Ümit Enginsoy
Ümit Enginsoy
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Romney criticized Obama for handing over too much responsibility to the United Nations and Russia. But while he demanded more American leadership on Syria, he did not outline exactly what he meant, save to rule out a military option. “We don’t have military involvement there. We don’t want to get drawn into military involvement there,” he said. “We should be playing the leadership role there. Not on the ground with military.”

Romney in the past has suggested arming rebels in Syria. In a November 2011 Republican primary debate, he outlined in specific terms what he would do with respect to a regime change. “This is the time for us to use not only sanctions, but covert actions within Syria to get regime change there,” Romney said at the time.

Obama had in mind the drawbacks of possibility of transfers of American arms to al-Qaida or other Salafist groups there, and Romney was also thinking about the same exact chances that his chief rival in the elections was mentioning.

The result is a “wait and see” policy. Romney is no more a supporter of Syrian opposition forces than Obama is. Then, of course, the neo-cons in the Romney camp do not endanger the policies of the Republican candidate in the form of a “transition to moderate politics,” as this writer has suggested a few times.

In other words, the change expected by many others in U.S. policies toward Syria will not take place. In this, Romney is no different from Obama. In the event of both men winning the presidency, the principle of “no military intervention to Syria” will remain in place. In American eyes, no one wants to see another Iraq war, and Romney is not a renewed George W. Bush. So they say “let’s wait and see what happens in time if the Salafists win the war, we will think of a solution then.”

Of course, the chances of al-Assad trying to control large swaths of ground, when his forces amount to only about 20 percent of the country’s population, are extremely slim in the long term. He will depend on Russia’s air support, if it makes much sense.

In the end, whatever is going to happen in Syria will happen. Blood will continue to spill. But this will be despite America’s presumed silence, and inflamed statements in between the stages of the Syrian civil war. Turkey should not wait for an American intervention.

Turkey will most probably act in a way to avert a Russian cut of natural gas at a time when the vicious winter of the Middle East is coming, or another Russian hostility that is now unseen.

(Ümit Engnsoy is a columnist at the Hurriyet Daily News. This article was published on Oct. 31, 2012)

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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