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Sohu, China

9/11: What Kind of Syria Does America Need?


By Gao Wang

Translated By Gloria Furness

13 September 2013

Edited by Mary Young


China - Sohu - Original Article (Chinese)

A week ago the international community was largely pessimistic toward the developments in the Syrian crisis, but in recent days Syria, the U.S. and Russia have independently agreed to "seize the opportunity," allowing people to hope for the easing of this tense situation.

Today is Sept. 11. On this day it seems that people are more concerned with the immediacy of the Syrian crisis. This ongoing civil war, now two years old, is currently facing the prospect of foreign military intervention, due to the emergence of "chemical weapons." In the background of this situation is a very delicate relationship with the al-Qaida terrorist attack that profoundly changed the world 12 years ago.

Then, al-Qaida was like a giant hornet's nest, maintaining a long, firm hold in Afghanistan alongside the Taliban. Although the Taliban regime quickly collapsed following 9/11, when its hive in Afghanistan was easily laid to waste by U.S. missiles, its surviving hornets scattered to resettle around the globe.

Shortly thereafter, America launched the war in Iraq in 2003. After Saddam Hussein's secular regime was overthrown, a state of anarchy turned Iraq into a quick gathering place and breeding ground for displaced al-Qaida soldiers. Ten years later, under the harassment of al-Qaida guerrilla warfare, American soldiers find themselves trapped, unable to extricate themselves from Afghanistan and Iraq. Although Obama has announced military withdrawal from the above two regions, the word "victory" for the U.S. is still quite far away.

The outbreak and spread of the Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa at the end of 2010 provided al-Qaida with yet another opportunity to further disperse in all directions. There are many facts to prove that its members infiltrated local rebel armies long ago to take part in the fight for "regime changes," thus complicating and intensifying existing tribal and sectarian conflicts. All this is most evident in Syria.

The U.S. bears a bitter hatred toward the Assad regime, and it is well known that the U.S. wishes to expeditiously remove him. The exposure of chemical weapons is the best excuse for the U.S. to attack Syria. A week ago the international community was largely pessimistic toward the developments in the Syrian crisis, but in recent days Syria, the U.S. and Russia have independently agreed upon "seizing the opportunity," allowing people to hope for the easing of this tense situation.

According to the statistics, in the 200-plus foreign wars that the U.S. has entered into since its founding, it has only proceeded with the approval of Congress a handful of times. This time, Obama is adopting a low profile and seeking support from Congress. This is not evidence of a deeper respect for Congress than previous presidents, but rather of a deeper deliberation. On the one hand, allied countries and public opinion have not allowed Obama to confidently take action; on the other hand, with the "endorsement" of his actions from Congress, his liability will be reduced considerably, regardless of future circumstances. Of course, more importantly, Obama needs to consider what kind of Syria the U.S. needs.

To oust Assad’s regime in the name of opposition to chemical warfare is something that the U.S. has always dreamed of. If it becomes a reality, in the next several decades the anti-American front will collapse — from Iran to Syria to Hezbollah and finally to Hamas — not only alleviating security pressures in Israel, but also cutting off Russia's profound reach in the Middle East.

But a U.S. attack on Syria still presents a great deal of risk. Not only is there no way to predict whether Assad will react violently, stirring the Middle East into a frenzy, even if Assad is overthrown, the remaining Syrian rebels would not allow the masses to rest easy. The media has already exposed many "foreign soldiers" from over the Turkish border within the rebel groups, including al-Qaida members. Their makeup is incredibly intricate; their bloody spectacles of slaughtering captives are enough to make one shudder. Once this brutal, al-Qaida-inclusive and potentially anti-American force uses the corpse of its opposition to reincarnate the Taliban in Syria, America's scheme in the Middle East will be absolutely shattered, and there will never be peace in the region.

In the absence of reliable successors, maintaining the status quo seems to be the best, albeit helpless, choice. A 12-year counterterrorism campaign has revealed that, although America is powerful, it is no master of handling hornets’ nests, nor is it an expert at eradicating those hornets once they scatter to the four winds. Twelve years later, al-Qaida has not been eliminated. Instead, it is sprouting up in a few new places, its drifting ghost ever a nightmare to the U.S.



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