The Case for Intervention in Syria
In, of all places, The Independent on Sunday. Brendan Simms, professor of of the history of international relations at Cambridge University, argues for Nato intervention in Syria.
He says he understands the reluctance of Nato generally and David Cameron in particular, because of
the paradox of pre-emption: you will never be thanked for the evil you have prevented, but you will be made responsible for everything that follows an intervention.
But he says Syria is not like Iraq; it is more like Bosnia. And the longer we leave it the worse it will be, says Simms. His proposal is for limited intervention as part of a wider policy of protecting minorities:
Britain should begin by asking Nato to impose a no-fly zone over the country, and threaten air attacks on all of the regime’s heavy weaponry. This should be accompanied by a political initiative to support the opposition under the Syrian National Council to setting up free zones along the Turkish border, in which a provisional government should be established with representation from all major population groups. This approach needs to be embedded in a broader Western strategy to protect Middle East minorities, especially the Shias of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia whom we have neglected for too long. The west should insist (as in Bosnia) that foreign fighters be sent home, and local Islamists disarmed. Nato should then train and equip the remaining opposition forces until the regime has fallen. There is no guarantee that Christians, Alawites and Shias will not suffer reprisals, but there seems to be little support for this among ordinary Syrians, and in any case the biggest long-term threat to minorities’ survival is the Sunni anger the regime is stoking.
Meanwhile this, on the inconclusive evidence that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons, is sensible (if you leave aside the confusion about Iraq dossiers: the main dossier on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction was regarded as dull when it was published in September 2002).
Photograph via Haaretz: Abu Tarek, a 74-year-old retired army officer, trying on a homemade gas-mask assembled using a plastic bottle, coal, cotton, gauze, cola, and cardboard, for protection against chemical weapons, Syria. AFPTagged in: bosnia, david cameron, iraq, liberal interventionism, NATO, syria
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