I have heard so much of supposed foreign policy experts, intellectuals, and leaders say the United States has no national security interest in Syria that I could scream. How can they along with the majority of political leaders and civilian population so miss the obvious right in front of their face? To say the U.S. has no national security interest in Syria is very shortsighted to say the least. I am writing this article to tell of all the reasons we should as a Nation get involved in ending the crises in Syria through intervention. Some will accuse me of being bias, I am indeed but no less bias than those who speak against intervention in Syria. Some will accuse me of looking for reasons to intervene in Syria, I need no reason outside of humanitarian reasons to convince me we should get directly involved in ending the crises in Syria. Finally some will consider these reasons as still not justifying a military intervention within Syria, but the truth of it is for most of these people with this position of non-intervention almost nothing could change their minds.
The humanitarian reasons for wanting to get directly involved to end the crises in Syria are obvious. Mass crimes against humanity have occurred in Syria for over two years now and have progressively been getting worse as time has went on. There are reports of well over 100,000 deaths counting all killed during this conflict civilian, rebels, and Assad‘s government. The crimes against humanity that have occurred in Syria range from unjust and inhumane detention, torture, rape, and murder. Saddest of all many thousands of children are among the victims and a sizable percentage of the victims are children under ten years old. Children are victims of not only being killed inadvertently in Syria but also victims of unjust and inhumane detention, torture, sexual violence, being used as human shields, being recruited to fight in the war, and murder. It has shocked even experts in human rights and scholars of crimes against humanity how many children have been among the victims of these terrible crimes and how young many of the victims have been. The savagery of the crimes occurring in Syria has also shocked many. Virtually every evil humanity is capable has occurred in Syria during this conflict.
The majority of tortures have happened to men and boys in government detention. Both women and girls have been victims of sexual violence by government forces but also men and boys mostly in government detention by government officials. Most killed have been men but a significant number killed have been women and children. Some massacres like the Houla Massacre the majority of those intentionally targeted and killed have been women and children. Many speculate massacres like this were done by the regime to cause people to fear the regime so they would stop challenging them. Some indications lead many to speculate ethnic cleansing is taking place. A few including myself have accused the Assad regime of committing genocide and I still stand by these accusations. It is no accident that the majority of those Assad has targeted and killed has been Sunnis, leaving heavily Alawite and Shiite neighborhoods and areas untouched.
Those displaced because of this conflict is greater than 2.5 million and in a country of about 22.5 million people that is even more significant. With a significant percentage of the population taken refuge outside of Syria this places major strain on surrounding nations attempting to find shelter, food, water, sanitation, clothing, supplies, and medical treatment for the refugees. Countries like Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt are beginning to become very strained in this prolonged conflict trying to care for the refugees. Aid is coming in from the UN, the US, many regional Countries, the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, France, and Israel. Aid is also coming from many private charities and donors. However there is still is a great need of aid for the Syrian Refugees. The longer Syria remains in chaos the greater the pressure it will place on the countries hosting the refugees.
No matter what one chooses to call what is happening in Syria I think all can agree it is a terrible and tragic thing that needs to stop for the sake of humanity.
OUR ALLIES IN THE REGION
Israel is our closest and strongest ally in the region but Jordan and Turkey are also our allies. All three nations share a border with Syria as does Iraq and Lebanon also two critical nations in the region. Our Allies National Security Interest is our National Security Interest. Anyone who thinks otherwise does not understand the concept of allies. Allies are more than just diplomatic partners they share strategic foreign policy interest. We stand with our allies through thick and thin, not just when it is convenient for us. The conflict in Syria has put all three of our allies in the region in jeopardy.
Israel has felt so threatened for its national security interest with Hezbollah getting actively involved in aiding Assad it has already taken a strike against some weapon caches of the Assad regime. The Golan Heights has come under attack many times during the Syrian conflict. The Golan Heights is a very critical area for Israel’s national security interest. Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights is especially critical for Israel as its height is the highest point in the region. Israel is able to watch both Syrian troops and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon from this vantage point. The fight between Syria and Israel over the Golan Heights goes back all the way to 1967 during the six-day war. In the region many recognize this area as being Syrian and see it as occupied Israeli territory. As I mentioned though the Golan Heights has become critical to the defense of Israel and must not be allowed to be recaptured by Assad’s forces.
Turkey has also felt threatened by the Assad regime as fighting has spilled into Turkey in the recent past. Turkey remains an ally of the United States and is a NATO member. Turkey and the United States are at odds on certain matters but the alliance remains critical in the region. Recently on a trip to the Middle East Obama got Israel and Turkey talking again which was no minor accomplishment. With the protest breaking out in Turkey it complicates the situation in Turkey. Such protest and the Turkish government’s distraction and focus on cracking down on the protest has caused much-needed focus to be shifted away from what is happening in Syria. While I along with many others in the West welcome the protest to bring more democracy, freedom, and make sure Turkey remains secular concern remains how the protest will turn out. If the Turkish government continues a harsh crackdown campaign and the protestors dig in their heels things could turn violent and ugly very quickly. The last thing Turkey needs now is its own civil unrest with so much unrest and bloodshed happening to its next door neighbors in Syria. I urge the protesters to temper their passions and not to push too far too quickly and I urge the Turkish government to allow freedom of speech and association and peaceful protest and dissent and practicing restraint when dealing with protest that turn violent. Turkey is right in the middle of this conflict in Syria and it is vitally important for Turkey along with the surrounding region that Assad’s regime does not succeed.
Jordan a close ally of the United States in the region also faces peril if the Assad regime stays in power and the conflict in Syria continues. Jordan has been an important ally in the region of the US for decades. Jordan has been greatly concerned about the conflict in Syria and fears what the implications can be for the region. Jordan has like Turkey has taken a strong stand against the Assad regime, and this has greatly enraged the Assad regime. Assad has continued to play the terrorist card in Syria that he is fighting “terrorist” and has tried to convince regional Nations like Jordan that it is in their common interest to defeat the terrorist in Syria. Oh really Bashar how do you explain massacres like the Houla and Banias Massacre, The Aleppo Bakery Massacres, the death of Hamza Ali al-Khateeb and the many other brutal crimes carried out by your regime. There is indeed extremist within some of the opposition forces but they make up a small minority of the opposition and terrorist within these extremist groups who carry out war crimes are even a smaller minority yet. Most of the opposition is made up of moderate and secular forces who respect human dignity. Thankfully Jordan has realized this and has been instrumental in the supply line of supplies, aid, and weapons to the Syrian rebels so they can continue to make advances against the brutal Assad regime killing innocent men, women, and children within Syria. Jordan is a critical ally of the US in the region and plays a critical strategic role in the battle to overthrow the ruthless Assad regime.
Our international reputation in the 21st century is more important than ever. How the world sees us today matters more than ever before in the past. There is all sorts of talk how the United States is in decline. While I will acknowledge many problems the US must overcome, I reject strongly this idea that America is in decline. America is merely going through growing pains, I don’t by this notion either that the US is in its middle age. America has always been a leader in the world and has saved the world from tyranny on many occasions its actions in WWII being its most obvious success. The United States since FDR has been considered an example for upholding human rights and since its founding as being the Nation that stood for liberty even if it for a long time was more an ideal then reality for many. There is yet work to be done on the issue of human rights in the United States but overall we have upheld the ideals of human rights in the world.
The world needs a strong leader to stand up and say “No we will not accept crimes against humanity occurring on a mass scale. We will not accept tyrants that torture, rape, and murder men, women, and children. We will not accept genocide and ethnic cleansing. We will not accept weapons of mass destruction being used in the world. We will not accept suffering and crying children being turned away for lack of funding to humanitarian aid. We will be as the Good Samaritan and not turn away from our fellow humanity but reach out our hand to lift them up. We will hold tyrants accountable and help stop mass bloodshed where we have an ability to do so. We will uphold the principles of human rights and continue to encourage others in the world to do the same.” President Obama can be that leader if he is willing to step forward and do what it is going to take. The world is looking to the US for leadership on this issue and like it or not that is the place the United States finds itself. With great power comes great responsibility and sacrifice. We can be a major part of the solution to ending the crises in Syria. Through international diplomatic talks and military intervention in Syria we can end the crimes against humanity occurring in Syria once and for all.
The Assad regime has used chemical weapons on at least two different confirmed cases in the city of Aleppo, Syria. Syria is well known to have large active chemical weapon programs and it has admitted to having them in the recent past. Another less talked about program in Syria but as worrisome is Syria’s biological weapons program that has included the pathogens anthrax, plague, tularemia, botulinium, smallpox, aflotoxin, cholera, ricin, camelpox. Lastly Syria has one of the largest missile arsenals in the Middle East built up over the years and with recent shipment of arms from Russia and shipments from Iran which have continued being provided to Syria in a steady stream since this conflict began. Chemical Weapons have the ability to kill thousands of civilians in a short period of time in ideal conditions for them to be most effective. Even in less than perfect conditions and used on small scales chemical weapons can still be very deadly and potentially kill dozens of people at a time. Not only do they present a risk domestically to the Syrian population but also Syrian’s neighbors with advanced delivery systems that Syria has the capabilities for. Imagine what such weapons could do to civilians in Israel, Turkey, or Jordan should Assad decide to use them against his neighbors in an act of desperation to hang onto power. We must not allow Assad the chance to use this option of chemical weapons either against his own people or his neighbors, because if he does the consequences could be devastating.
The Rise of Extremist Elements Within Syria
The longer this conflict has gone on in Syria the more extremist elements have infiltrated Syria. These extremist elements among the rebel forces make up an increasing in influence and power minority of the opposition which overall is still mostly moderate and a sizable portion especially younger native Syrian fighters are secular. 80% of the rebel forces are moderate Islamist like the Syrian Liberation Front also known as the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front and mostly secular like the most populous group The Free Syrian Army. The hard-line Islamist extremist rebels; rebels belonging to groups like The Syrian Islamic Front not to be confused with the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front a moderate faction and the even more extreme and backed by Al-Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra, make up only about 20% of the rebel forces or possibly a bit less or a bit more depending on how the smaller Independent brigades alliances are ideologically oriented. The Free Syrian Army has been especially critical of the extremist: actual quotes from FSA commanders one commander stated they are “hijacking a revolution that began as an uprising to demand a democratic system” another one claimed “Jihadist and secular rebel groups watch each other’s military bases warily, unclasping the safety catches on their guns as they pass” a rebel leader in Idlib Province said “We are not fighting Bashar al-Assad to go from living in an autocratic to a religious prison”. There has been an influx of foreign fighters join the opposition and pro Assad side and unfortunately many of them are extremist.
This does not even mention the even more worrisome Iranian Revolutionary Guard on the ground in Syria and Hezbollah militant fighters aiding the Assad regime. This is even more worrisome as far as the United States foreign policy goes as unlike the extremist rebel groups who are a small minority of the rebels who are mostly interested in creating an Islamist State in Syria and imposing strict laws and harsh interpretations of Sharia, Iran and Hezbollah have the interest primarily to maintain influence in the region and wipe Israel off the face of the map. Iran has a 90-95% population of adherents of Shia Islam and Hezbollah is a Shia Islamic militant group so the idea of Syria going from being controlled by Alawites, a sect of Shia Islam, and the sect Assad is a part of which makes up only about 12% of the Syrian population to being controlled by a majority Sunni which makeup about 74% of the Syrian population is very threatening to them. Bashar al-Assad has also been strong allies with Iran and Hezbollah and they do not want to risk that alliance being broken.
Bringing Down A Brutal Tyrant And A Merciless and Cruel Regime
Decades ago in Syria the Alawites were heavily persecuted and have been persecuted for most of their history. However under Hafez al-Assad, Bashar al-Assad’s father, the Alawites suddenly became the prominent ruling minority in Syria pushing the Sunni majority into a minority political status after he came to power after a series of coups from 1966-1970. The Alawites went from second class citizens to the ruling elite. For a long while in Syria’s recent history the different sects got a long fine. However some resentments remained and Hafez al-Assad brutally put down a rebellion in Hama, Syria against him in 1982 as many as 40,000 people were killed in this crack down. The oppressed Alawites under Hafez had become the oppressors, not all the Alawites of course just those loyal to Hafez al-Assad. He used fear mongering that he was crushing extremist as justification for his brutal putting down of the rebellion against him. Enough were convinced with his rationalizing the crackdown and heavy-handed ways, he gave the people just enough freedom and reforms, he indoctrinated enough of the youth of Syria in Ba’athist ideology, and rallied the people around a common enemy, Israel, to stay in power until his death in 2000 when his second eldest son Bashar al-Assad took over because Hafez eldest son, chosen to be his successor, died in 1994 in an automobile accident.
Bashar was groomed by his father for power after his eldest brother’s death in 1994 until his father’s death in 2000. Bashar al-Assad came into office promising major reforms. He was seen as a young reformist President who promised the Syrian’s a better life and more freedom. He made up for his lack of sex appeal, slight lisp, and awkwardness by being well spoken and very charismatic far more than his father could ever dream of being. He was embraced by Western Powers as being a welcome change in Syria. He was a master at pulling the wool over Western eyes and against the Syrian population’s eyes. He had nearly everyone fooled. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, an iron fist in a velvet glove, a lion who appeared as a lamb. Oh how mild-mannered this ferocious beast appeared, how he lured people in with his persuasive words and flowery speech, how outward he appeared as a gentleman but inward he was a ravenous wolf hungry for absolute power and fulfilling his sadistic appetites. He was the son of Hafez and was a chip off the old block after all. He was patiently waiting, likely all his life from late childhood to the time he rose to power, for a time when he could conquer his enemies. All those who mocked him and his family would someday pay and pay dearly.
This once lonely and awkward child, son of a sociopath and cruel father, became a cruel sociopath. Yes he chose to go down that dark path of becoming a tyrant but he could not escape his father’s shadow. His father was manipulating his mind for years and built up a cruel State and essentially gave him the keys to this repressive system. He likely feared his father growing up but admired him at the same time. He was taught it is better to be feared and respected than admired and loved. He was taught to never forgive your enemies and crush them before they crush you. He was taught being cruel to save the State and keep the Assad regime in place was no vice. His father had installed cruel men in powerful positions for decades. These same men who Bashar al-Assad would later be influenced by. His mother was said to have glorified Hafez to the young Bashar and as he came to power encouraged him to follow his father’s example of how to deal with rebellions. This does not justify the path Bashar al-Assad took in life, excuse his decisions, or make any less terrible his ruthless crimes against humanity, but it gives one insight into his humanity. Bashar al-Assad could have rejected his father’s ways, overcame his upbringing, showed mercy to his fellow humanity, and tempered his darkest of impulses, but instead he traveled down a dark path of seeking vengeance, absolute power, and gave into his sadistic impulses to hurt, control, and manipulate others. It is a similar tale of many tyrants throughout history. Bashar al-Assad was not the first tyrant nor will he be the last but the world would be wise to learn there is no such thing as a benevolent dictator.
Well getting back to the present the reforms and freedom Bashar al-Assad promised never came in any significant way at least to those outside the Damascus inner city and outside the Alawite favored sect. There was indeed people having their lives much improved under some of Assad’s reforms. There was life coming to the heart of Damascus and Assad’s young supporters felt optimistic and jubilant that Bashar al-Assad was their Messiah in a sense. They listened to his speeches and were captured in the moment of his celebrity with his beautiful British born wife and his adorable children. They saw him in public and how friendly and charismatic he was. They saw how he appeared to be so compassionate to the people of Syria. He was admired by both the young and the old. Well they did not realize they were blined by SANA
(Syrian State Television and state-run press), that their textbooks they read in school were indoctrinating them into Ba’athist ideology, that they were surrounded by shrines of both Assad the first and second, that their entire lives were being manipulated by the regime and they were being shielded from the real world. They were so used to having little and living in hard times that it just seemed natural. They were so used to being controlled and manipulated by the Assad regime that no heavy hand was needed anymore they bowed down symbolically to the regime in submission willingly without being told. If some of Bashar al-Assad’s crack downs and laws seemed harsh they just ignored their own feelings and accepted he was trying to keep them safe from those that they were told would harm them and kill them and their families.
As far as the Sunni population who were far less sportive of the Assad regime because of deep resentments of his father and lack of concern Bashar seemed to have towards them, they saw Damascus improving and all these happy and seemingly successful people there, yet they were unhappy from all the decades of repression of the Assad regime and largely living in poverty. They wondered why is it that they are cast aside and the Alawite favored. They had been oppressed so long they just somehow over time have gotten use to it. Some even had begun to feel badly about themselves and wondered why Allah would give them such a lot in life? Did not they love their God as much or more than the Alawite, then why had they to suffer so? They saw on the Internet and from foreign media, news about the Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt, Libya and Yemen. Young Syrians wondered why can not we have an Arab Spring right here in Syria. Some boys were so inspired by the Arab Spring one day that they gratified anti-Assad messages on public walls. Apparently Assad saw this as very threatening, even the youth of Syria were beginning to turn on him he must have thought. He had to punish such defiance before more such young “hoodlums” decided to do the same or worse.
He could have fined the boys’ parents or made them do community service but no to insult a God, Bashar al-Assad, was a grave sin in the book of Assad. Instead he had them arrested and placed in state custody. His regime did not stop there though what they did next shocked all of Syria even knowing the cruelty of Assad’s father. They refused to release the boys from state custody and began to yell at them and torture them. They beat them, pulled out their fingernails, burned them with fire, humiliated them, raped them, cut them with knives and sharp instruments, and even in one case cut off the genitals of a thirteen year old boy and so cruelly tortured that poor kid that he died from his injuries. That boy was named Hamza Ali al-Khateeb and anger over what happened to him and the other boys in state custody led to mass protest and riots all over Syria. They heard of the Assad regime torturing extremist, criminals, and enemies of the state but to do such to children, no this was brutal and vicious even for the Assad regime. They could no longer support a regime that would treat even children in such a brutal manner. They could no longer support a regime that promised them reform and an improved life and gave them nothing but misery and heartache. The protest and riots were brutally cracked down by force by the Assad regime and protesters were being beaten, tortured, and murdered on a regular basis eventually.
As the regime cracked down more the protestors became even more numerous. Their beloved leader had become a tyrant whose regime orders the torture of children and murder of its own citizens for the mere act of protesting. Well eventually the protestors were tired of being sitting ducks and began to fight back first with sticks and stones, fist and nails, but when that didn’t work and the regime started killing them in even greater numbers they began to use deadly force against this brutal regime. They would not allow this regime to hurt and kill them and their families, friends, and neighbors no more without fighting back. Now Assad was ordering his regime to use tanks and other armored vehicles to shoot into crowds and sometimes literally crush his opponents. They would have large groups of soldiers fire automatic weapons into large crowds uncaring if they killed an armed protestor or a mother and her young child. These were the enemies of Bashar and they had to be destroyed for to show them mercy is to allow them the chance to usurp his throne. Bashar is not just a man he is a God and not just any God but their God. This is how drunk with power the regime was and is. This is how merciless this regime was and is. In fact Assad’s cruelty did not stop there he would grow more cruel and brutal with time.
When the Syrian people began organizing into militias like the Free Syrian Army and take on the Assad regime automatic weapon with automatic weapon is when the absolute barbarity and savagery of this regime reached shockingly cruel proportions. His regime now began carrying out massacres of entire groups of people, bombing entire neighborhoods, sending in death squads into people’s homes and destroying the occupants home, beating the men, raping the women, and often times murdering many of them, no even the children were not spared from their savagery. I am talking crimes so shocking and depraved even hardened thugs serving life in prison would be shocked. There was stories of wives, sisters, and daughters being raped in front of their husbands, brothers, and fathers. Husbands, sons, and brothers being beaten to death or murdered in front of their wives, mothers, and sisters. Stories of children being kidnapped by the regime. Stories of them not even having mercy for the very young and very old. Evil is the only word that can fully describe the horror of the regime’s crimes. I know these things are hard to hear and think about but image the Syrian people who have to live it.
No this regime needs to be brought down to the ash heap of history of failed ideas and institutions. It needs to be fought like the Nazi’s were fought in WWII and a number of evil regimes since then. There was a time when there could have been a diplomatic solution but that time is long gone. There was a time when the regime could have denounced its former evil ways and step down and probably be granted asylum. Now that time is over all that is left is prosecution in the world court and life in prison or to stand and fight until a bitter and violent end befalls Assad and his top regime officials. If there was a way to end these crimes against humanity without firing a single shot I would gladly welcome it. However I see nothing outside of war to bring down this brutal regime now so the crimes against humanity can stop. War is evil and a human rights abuse there is no doubt but sometimes it is a necessary one to save human beings and protect human rights. All opposed to intervention in Syria offer no non-violent solution that has any chance of success. Tyrants like Assad need an international effort to bring down. This is not about vengeance this is about stopping the crimes against humanity. This is about justice for all those who have been harmed and killed in this conflict. This is about standing up for our fellow humanity and their human rights that are being so grossly violated. This is about saving children, the disabled, and the old who can not fight for themselves. Yes it will require some innocent lives sacrificed and treasure spent but the idea we can be spared from making any sacrifice in a conflict this large with this much bloodshed being the most wealthiest and most powerful Nation in the world with the largest military capability and specialized skill is beyond wishful thinking. We can a turn a blind eye and pretend it is not happening but it will continue to happen rather we are paying attention or not. It’s time for the world community to pay attention and get together and help end this crises by directly getting involved in ending it.