Hesitant Obama, lucky Assad

Raed Omari
Raed Omari
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Isn’t Syria a mystery? I mean, isn’t it obscure that the U.S.-led international community is still unable to move decisively on Syria when its ongoing civil war has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people so far?

What is so stunning is that even after the chemical attacks, the Syria file is still being handled with “guesswork.” Strangely and sorrowfully enough, the horrific and shocking nerve gas attack against Damascus’ suburb of Ghouta is still being dealt with in terms of “who did it,” with very little attention being given to the human suffering and future danger.

Not only that, the chemical attack has turned into a heated dispute between the U.S. and Russia, with the former being certain that Assad’s forces had done it while the latter claiming to have proof that rebel fighters had employed sarin nerve gas against civilians. In both narratives, humanity is absent.

What adds to the uncertainty and reluctance engulfing the Syria dilemma is U.S. President Barak Obama’s perplexity on Syria even after having had his red-line warning crossed by the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Obama, who is believed to be unable to afford a new Iraq and Afghanistan, has, no doubt, deep concerns about a military intervention in Syria for, if not so, then why would he still seek the Congress’ consent if he is authorized to initiate military action by himself?

Assuming that the military intervention in Syria is Obama’s last choice, then how do we solve the Syrian dilemma when nothing tangible has been done to push for a political solution to the crisis.

Even the British Parliament, which has closed the door on a military intervention in Syria, has provided no alternative on how to end the ongoing war there.

Not to hail a Western military intervention, but if not militarily, then how and when will Syria’s crisis be solved politically?

It is no doubt that Assad is the foremost beneficiary of the international community’s indecisiveness on war torn Syria. He is actually lucky to have survived this far from the West’s inertia regarding his war. In fact, events outside of Syria helped him more than events inside the country.

In addition to the international community’s inaction on Syria, there are other inscrutabilities surrounding the Syrian crisis which all contribute to making Syria nothing but a mystery – at least from a Western perspective.

What makes Russia relentlessly supportive of a regime that is marred by bloodshed and genocide when it is attempting to secure a presence within a region of mostly anti-Assad countries?

Raed Omari

Syria turning into fertile territory for extremism is a mysterious thing in itself. I mean here the wrongdoings of al-Qaeda’s two official affiliates operating in Syria: Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Rebel commanders videotaping themselves chopping off heads and cutting open the chests of regime’s soldiers have all contributed to distorting the alluring image of the Syrian revolution, thus making the West and also many Arab states deeply concerned and perplexed about Assad’s replacement.

Syria, the ethnically and culturally diverse country, which has long embraced moderation and coexistence, seems to be leaning towards radicalism with the extremist groups gaining predominance in the on-going struggle there. This has caused the West and also many Arab countries to think twice before providing lethal arms to the opposition.

What many anti-Assad countries have failed to get is that those radical groups are not in fact the embodiment of the Syrian opposition which, as accredited by the Syrian people, has been represented by the Free Syrian Army and its political arm, the Syrian National Coalition.

Actually what gave predominance to such radical groups on the Syrian scene is the international community’s indecisiveness. Regardless of such an obscure situation, the entire world will suffer a lot from its inaction on Syria if action is a problem.

Another mysterious aspect of the Syrian crisis is the Russian role which has been swaying between arbitrary support of the Assad regime and securing a presence in the Middle East.

What makes Russia relentlessly supportive of a regime that is marred by bloodshed and genocide when it is attempting to secure a presence within a region of mostly anti-Assad countries?

Or, what makes Russia favor Hezbollah, which is still a group not a state, at the expense of other regional countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey?

It is so obscure that the Obama Administration, which urged its ally Hosni Mubarak of Egypt to step down after the January 25 Revolution when relatively few died, has been silent on Syria, where hundreds of thousands have died.

The lucky Assad

Assad has benefited, and still benefiting, a lot from external factors and some internal ones.

First of all, the uprising in Syria has reached its climax during the time Obama was preparing himself for re-election and, when he was re-elected, he gave priority to internal issues at the expense of external ones. That is the norm for most U.S. presidents during their second term when they try to make history for themselves within America.

Plus, Assad has benefited immeasurably from the radical groups fighting his regime to the extent of which many observers have become haunted bya “conspiracy theory,” seeing some kind of give-and-take relationship between the two sides.

Countries, like Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan, which host al-Qaeda and other radical groups, have always been targets of U.S. drones, but not Syria, where they have safe haven.

Developments in Egypt and the unsuccessful outcomes of the Tunisian and Libyan uprisings have also contributed to ensuring a kind of sustainability for Assad. In part, they shifted the world’s attention from Syria to Egypt and, to a great extent, have made people question the validity of the Arab Spring uprisings. But each country has its own distinctiveness and generalization is unfair in this case.

In addition, the Syrian uprising came during a time of a U.S. retreat from the region after its failure in Iraq and at a time when the pro-Assad Russia is relentlessly fighting for a presence in the Middle East, no doubt tempted by the Americans’ absence.

Constants and variables

Despite these variables in Syria – all opinionated by the way - there are deep-rooted constants, or I would say facts, in the ongoing revolution.

One is that what we have witnessed in Syria is a revolution against tyranny and for freedom and not a struggle over power, as it looks to many.

What is also certain is that the bloodshed and genocide in Syria cannot be erased from the memories of the Syrian people who have reached a point of no return and will not give up until they topple the regime and regain their freedom.

As a matter of fact, it is the regime that transformed Syria’s peaceful uprising into an armed struggle when they responded to protests with gunfire, compelling Syrians to carry arms to defend themselves.

For those pan-Arab nationalists who still see Assad an embodiment of “resistance,” one major aim of the Syrian revolution, which is also a constant, is the replacement of Syria within the Arab causes after being put in the service of Iran and Hezbollah.

With the previous Israeli air strikes against Syria, let there be no more talk about the “resistance axis” for it proved to be nothing but a big lie.

Luck is variable and can change anytime. There is something called “historical inevitabilities” – logical events that prevail in the end.

The Syrian people regaining their freedom and Syria regaining its position in the Arab world are just examples of historical inevitabilities.


Raed Omari is a Jordanian journalist, political analyst, parliamentary affairs expert, and commentator on local and regional political affairs. His writing focuses on the Arab Spring, press freedoms, Islamist groups, emerging economies, climate change, natural disasters, agriculture, the environment and social media. He is a writer for The Jordan Times, and contributes to Al Arabiya English. He can be reached via [email protected], or on Twitter @RaedAlOmari2

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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