Sunday, February 19, 2012

Syrian rebels must not be armed

While the violence and bloodshed in Syria unfolds, some have come out lobbying for arming Syrian rebels, most of whom are former soldiers serving in Syria’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad’s army that is slowly peeling away.

World powers have made it clear in the past few weeks that military intervention in Syria seems distant and two U.S. congressmen said they are in favor of arming Syria rebels who have right to defend themselves. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham claimed that Syrian regime is being financed by Iran and that a byproduct of a more interventionist policy in Syria would be to weaken Iran. Arming Syrian rebels might seem the only way out of this current impasse, but it is problematic in many ways.

First, Syrian people have lived under senior and junior Assads for four decades and no matter how brutal regime it is, current spate of daily killings is no better alternative. For this reason, end of violence is more priority than nudging Assad to the door or weakening Iran strategically. Arming Syrian rebels surely wouldn't help advance this cause.

Second, it is hard to predict when the uprising will bring Assad’s end or when the country will edge toward a peaceful political transition. Arming Syrian rebels could mean pouring more fuel on a burning house and may spawn an era of perennial fight among different Syrian factions. The US or any other country must avoid arming Syrian rebels unless they clearly know what the consequences of such a move would be. Arms supplying countries must also know that the rebels will have a decisive victory instead of massacring the other side once they are given more arms.

Third, Syrian rebels have sufficient amount of weaponry to defend themselves and territories they captured. What they lack is manpower and ability to defend civilian population in areas where Assad tanks are constantly shelling. Assad forces are attacking with tanks and armored vehicles and it is basically hard to counter them by Kalashnikovs. Except anti-tank rocket launchers, what kind of weaponry disorganized Syrian rebels could use?

Fourth, instead of seeking ways how to give the uprising in Syria a military tone, the international community must find ways to persuade the Iranian regime to stop funding Assad. Military operation is an expensive business and Syria is currently under heavy economic burden. Linking Syrian uprising to Iran’s strategic position in the region will not help. The international community must make compromises to Iran in nuclear talks or through some other ways in exchange for the Islamic republic’s halt to funding Syria. This seems unrealistic at the moment but so does arming Syrian rebels when the outcome and trajectory of the uprising is unknown.

1 comment:

  1. "Third, Syrian rebels have sufficient amount of weaponry to defend themselves and territories they captured. What they lack is manpower"

    Seriously ? FSA people always say, they have manpower but they need weapons and ammunition. Not the other way around.

    This is not what I expected to hear from Turkey. Shame on the people of Turkey for letting us be killed like this and not pressuring the useless politicians to actually do something. Sad to say, but so much for being neighbors, so much for shared blood and history... the only strong support we see is from the people of Tripoli in Lebanon.

    After we free Syria, we will help Kavkaz be free from Russia. You will not get away with this Putin, nor will anyone else who supported Bashar and helped kill Syrians.