The referral by President Barrack Obama of any action against the Syrian Government, which the State Department believes was responsible for a chemical weapon attack on civilians, has both appeased and baffled the world in general.
It was the President many weeks ago who drew the red line on the use of such weapons and later vowed to take decisive action in the form of a military attack. Now he has changed direction and asked for approval from Congress which will only meet on September 8. Where exactly did he lay his “red line”? Was he influenced by the reaction in the British Parliament last Thursday?
Retaliation now would be nothing short of a slap on the wrist as the Syrian Government has had plenty of time to prepare and to move possible targets around the country. What was it that changed his mind?
There is no doubt that military action in Syria by Western forces would be extremely unpopular with their citizens and could possibly provoke anti-government protests in their countries. And it would almost certainly inflame an already volatile situation. Memories of the chaos and confusion that their intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq caused are still a cause for non-intervention and many believe that the strife in the region should be settled by the warring parties without outside interference.
What is called a civil war in Syria is being played out by many combatants from many political, religious and geographical regions so a short and vicious attack from outside would cause more problems and possibly prolong both the fighting and the suffering endured by citizens caught up in the strife.
President Assad of Syria is but one antagonist and his strings are being pulled by Russia and Iran with on-the-ground support from Hezbollah and moral support from China. On the rebel front are various groups fighting under the one banner but with different goals after the toppling of Assad. The Western countries, and the Arab League, are backing the rebels more to oust Assad than for any loyalty to a worthy cause. It is a complicated crisis which is part of the overall “Arab Spring” that began early 2010 in Algeria. It is specifically an Arab conflict and will only be resolved by Arab nations with Arab solutions. The Western nations enter at their peril.
President Obama is briefed by many “experts” in the US, all with different opinions. But as President he is also the Commander of the Armed Forces, and as such he alone can make the decision to take military action. Something else must have made him proceed with caution, something other that the warning from the UK Parliament or the cold feet of the French.
There is a new government in Iran that is still finding its feet and has many problems to deal with. But there are some encouraging signs in that the new reform-minded President, Hassan Rohani, could be a major player in future events. Disturbed at the insecurity in the region President Rohani could seize the opportunity to make some peace moves by way of relaxing the political and diplomatic friction with Western countries. President Putin of Russia has played down his rhetoric recently and there is some evidence on Twitter accounts that Iran could pour water on the fires that burn in the region.
President Obama may be playing for time. Diplomacy moves particularly slowly but there is a window of opportunity for high-level talks on peace rather than conflict. Obama would welcome such moves towards peace as he is not a man of war. And he will realise that military action would be just as unpopular in the US as it is in the UK, and in France.
Besides, it appears that the Lords of War are now running scared of their own shadows.
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.