In the last installment of his interview with Al Jazeera, Nir Rosen says: The regime can survive for a long time, even if it steadily loses control of territory within the country. It is very unlikely that there will be any large-scale international military intervention. In Washington, there is a great deal of frustration. Zionists and advocates of the muscular use of US power, including several Republicans, are calling for Obama to arm the opposition. Even the neoconservatives are climbing out from under their rocks to call for a US military intervention. Fox News has seized on this cause too.
Contrary to conspiracy theories, until now the Obama administration has not made the policy decision to aid the opposition on the ground, as far as I know, let alone provide it with weapons. US and European officials who would like to intervene in Syria complain that there is no “silver bullet” or easy option for them. They don’t even know who to support inside Syria. The exiled opposition, such as the Syrian National Council, are too busy fighting among themselves and too disconnected from events on the ground, so the outside powers do not even have a convenient local collaborator or proxy to deal with. They also complain that the SNC has completely failed to reach out to minorities, especially Alawites. They agree that opponents of the regime will have to pry Alawite community from the administration. The Alawite pillar must be removed, they say. The United States, like the United Kingdom, reportedly has envoys among the Syrian opposition. It is only a question of time, in my opinion, before the SNC is officially recognised by them as the main interlocutor, but they are pressuring the SNC to get its act together first.
One more factor militating against US support for a hasty collapse of the regime is the fear over Syria’s vast chemical weapons arsenal as well as its tens of thousands of portable anti-aircraft missiles and anti-armour missiles. The US will as always be sensitive to Israeli concerns on this proliferation issue as well. It’s always better to have a postal address where to retaliate if you want deterrence to work. While foreign intervention of one kind or another is probably inevitable (regardless of whether it is desirable), those countries who would be most likely to intervene are ill-prepared.
Turkey has certainly become more influential in the region, but the United States foreign service probably has more Arabists in its embassy in Cairo than in the entire Turkish foreign policy establishment. The Turks are not yet prepared for their new role in the region, lacking experts and Arabic speakers, which limits their ability to intervene. On their own, Jordan or Turkey cannot give enough support to the opposition to make a difference, and an international coalition appears difficult to cobble together without the opposition being strengthened.
Israeli intelligence does not deserve the reputation it has. Its academia and foreign policy establishment lack real experts, given their Zionist bias, an inability to conduct field work and a tendency to view the Arab world through Orientalist or military prisms. The days when the Israelis could field Arab Jews who were fluent in the language and could pass as locals are long over. Israeli intelligence has suffered a string of humiliations in Lebanon in recent years. Likewise, US intelligence has recently been humiliated in Lebanon – and given its poor performance in Iraq and Afghanistan, it should not intimidate the Syrian regime. So, for the various countries who will want to play a role, there is no easy entry point. [Continue reading…]