It is not too difficult to imagine the consequences if the Western powers intervene in the Syrian internal conflict. After what appears to have been the use of chemical weapons on the outskirts of Damascus and the resulting death of hundreds, the so-called “red line” has been deemed by President Obama of the US to have been crossed and action is called for.
But therein lies the problem. What action can the US, with the eager assistance of allies Britain and France, take at this time in the conflict?
The civil war, originally between rebels within the country attempting to depose President Assad, has drawn in other international bodies both in support and in action. With Russia and Iran providing support for Assad, Western countries showing approval for the rebels and various groupings loosely linked to Al-Qaeda creating mayhem on the battlefields, the conflict is now, at the very least, a complicated affair. And with the history of US troop involvement in foreign affairs not being exemplary the options for the Western allies are not simple.
For a start, the UN weapons inspectors have only now been permitted to venture to the site of the tragedy and they may not be able to conclusively find what most observers now believe to be certain – that President Assad's security forces are responsible. Remember Iraq where UN weapons inspectors found no evidence of “weapons of mass destruction” and this was ignored by US and UK governments intent on invasion!
Even so the use of poison gas is abhorrent to most civilised people and the possibility of the culprits adopting this strategy again is very real. That alone calls for some international action but this should come through the United Nations. Trouble with the UN is that it moves so slowly that it could be months before any decisive decision is made.
In all likelihood the Western allies will not commit forces on the ground but will pound various targets, as they deem fit, from bases outside the region. This could be either by aircraft and/or by rocket fire which, despite the pinpoint accuracy of the past, is open to error and the killing and maiming of civilians.
What is certain is that events of the past week have elevated the Syrian crisis to the point where more action is inevitable and many more casualties will result. The Lords of War have been spurred into action.
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