Bombing Syria, a short-sighted proposition bound to go off-course

by Rob Brune

The White House is touting a so-called humanitarian bombing campaign while pushing the line that Syria will not be the next Iraq. “Iraq and Syria are in no way analogous,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters.

Al Qa'Qaa bunker in Iraq
Al Qa’Qaa bunker in Iraq

How can we forget that within the first couple months of bombing and “boots on the ground” in Iraq, Baathist insurgents moved in to grab 380 tons of high explosives from the Al Qa’Qaa bunker? It wasn’t like we didn’t know the risk. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned that terrorists might “help themselves to the greatest explosives bonanza in history.”

If the U.S. bombs the holy hell out of Syria’s chemical weapons supply, who will be there to secure the remains of those chemical weapons? It’s a realistic expectation that they will fall into the hands of radical factions of the Free Syrian Army affiliated with Al Qaeda.

Bashar al-Assad is a bona fide madman. Rather than deter him, a bombing campaign will likely provoke him to use more chemical weapons. The whole discussion of a military intervention is short-sighted. Bombing Syria is a proposition that will go sideways faster than Obama and his supporters in Congress think.


The good news is that someone has thought through this scenario. The bad news is that to secure Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles–estimated at 1,000 tons–the U.S. would have to deploy 75,000 troops:

The potential of strategic US strikes in Syria has sparked fears Damascus’ chemical weapons could fall into the wrong hands if the government is toppled. A recent congressional report says 75,000 troops would be needed to safeguard the WMD caches.

The Congressional Research Center (CRS) report, issued just one day before the alleged August 21 chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb, was compiled with the aim of “responding to possible scenarios involving the use, change of hands, or loss of control of Syrian chemical weapons.”

That’s 150,000 “boots on the ground.”

The urgency to topple al-Assad: “He’s killing the best of us!”

Nagia Kurabi

AJ and Nagia Kurabi want to set you straight on the Syrian revolution: “Everything you hear in the media is wrong.”

In an interview on Washington, DC’s We Act Radio on April 10, the Kurabis advocated for Syrian revolutionaries, those who have defied the regime of President Bashar al-Assad since March 2011.

They denounced attempts to discredit the opposition and undermine their support. “They are not terrorists, insurgents, Hezbollah or Al-Qaeda,” they insisted. Instead, they described them as either civilians and organized activists or soldiers defected from the Syrian Armed Forces–and who now make up the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

“We are united. We are a mosaic. We are not only Sunnis, Shiites, Jews and Christians,” Nagia said.

Syrian Americans and immigrants to the US more than 25 years ago, the Kurabis form a complementary team of advocates for the Syrian opposition. Nagia is verbose and passionate as she describes the atrocities committed by the al-Assad regime. AJ in contrast offers nuanced analysis delivered in precise language with a mastery of detail.

They have been organizers of a rally scheduled for April 13 in front of the Saudi Embassy on behalf of Syrian women and children. They intend to deliver messages to the Prince of Saudi Arabia from the FSA asking for support–food, medicine and support for a buffer zone so that civilians can find safe haven.

The Saudis have said “it was ‘a good idea’ to arm the Syrian rebels and create a safe haven on the Turkish border,” while the US has encouraged them to pursue other diplomatic solutions. The Saudis have also unsuccessfully pressed Jordan to allow arms to pass through their borders to reach the FSA.

The Kurabis believe Syria will become a democratic country if al-Assad is deposed. “Syria is different” from other Mideast countries, they said, citing its “rich history” with cultural contributions by the Persians, Romans and Greeks. There will be long-term benefits if Syria becomes a democratic country, they say, and another advantage is that Iran will be isolated. “If the Syrian revolution wins, Iran is next,” Nagia said.

In addition to a safe haven, the opposition wants a no-fly zone and more support for the FSA and the Syrian National Council. They define support for the FSA not only in terms of food and medicine but arms as well: “If we arm the Syrian [opposition], it won’t take much to topple the regime.” And in any case, they assert that al-Assad’s grip on power will not last forever, but the question is, for how long he will maintain it.

Eleven to twelve thousand Syrians have been killed in the conflict so far, but the Kurabis believe this is a low estimate. Al-Assad escalated the killing in the last six months because, they say, he has felt more secure that Western nations will not act to stop him. “Our women are getting raped, our children are getting slaughtered, our men are getting imprisoned,” AJ said.

Nagia summed up the urgency she feels, saying, “He’s killing the best of us!”

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