The Sydney Morning Herald published an article last week appraising the possibility of military intervention in Syria from a range of different perspectives. Ben Saul, a professor of international law, analysed the question from a strictly legal perspective; other writers looked at the question from academic, journalistic and political angles. Further afield the comment pages of the international press have debated the question from a myriad of different perspectives. We present a roundup of different views from across the globe:
The BBC notes that “since the outset of the Syria crisis in March 2011, there has been little appetite for outside military intervention. This has been based on two assessments. Firstly, that this would be no simple military option: the situation on the ground in Syria is in many ways very different from that in, for example, Libya – the opposition is much more divided, the government’s security forces are much stronger, and Syria’s air defences are more effective. Secondly, there has been a view that the implications of toppling President Bashar al-Assad could prompt a much wider wave of instability in the region. Unlike Libya, Syria – both politically and geographically – is a central player in the Arab world, and sectarianism and instability there could threaten both Lebanon and Iraq.”
The Economist set up a debate to allow readers to judge for themselves. Ed Husain, Senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, argued that “Military intervention in Syria is ill-conceived, short-sighted, counter-productive, and likely to generate more killings and massacres rather than stop them.” Shadi Hamid, Director of research at the Brookings Doha Center, argued on the contrary that “Military action, in any context, should not be taken lightly. But neither should standing by and proposing measures that have, in Syria, so far failed to work. Opponents of intervention need to explain how staying the current course—hoping that diplomacy might work when it has not for nearly a year—is likely to resolve an increasingly deadly civil war.”
Phyllis Bennis, argues in Al Jazeera that only diplomacy can stop the war. “Outside powers should stop military involvement and support new diplomatic initiative,” he argues.
Haaretz in Israel reported on Rabbi Eliezer Berland’s calls for solidarity with Syria, “even if some grow up to be terrorists.”
The Moscow Times notes that the international community is aware that getting rid of Assad would not necessarily solve the country’s problems. “Sidelining or replacing Assad would be symbolically important, but it would not transform the ruling caste. Interestingly, this may imply that Assad, as a relatively weak figure, might at some point be spared even by his own caste on the condition that the ruling group is left largely intact. Hopes to gradually marginalize hard-liners in the ruling minoritarian group and in the ranks of the opposition ignore the fact that power and moderation do not go hand in hand in today’s or tomorrow’s Syria — with or without Assad.’v
In March The New York Times said that piecemeal intervention would create more problems than it solved.
Con Coughlin argues in The Telegraph said that “Britain’s action over the Alaed [preventing a shipment of Russian attack helicopters from being delivered to Syria, means…] that the first step towards military intervention in the Syrian crisis has been taken.”
Seumas Milne of The Guardian suggests that “the reality is that intervention in Syria by the US and its allies has already begun.” He says that “the US and its allies are sponsoring regime change through civil war,” concluding that “the consequences of full-scale military intervention would be incalculable.”