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The Syrian revolution has turned into a civil war, with over 40,000 people dead and counting, adding to the instability of the Middle East. The conflict continues to keep the Arab, European and American foreign ministers and diplomats awake at night. This seems to be hopefully coming to an end, if one connects the dots and sees what the EU foreign ministers, the Russians and the American establishment are doing. The potential use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime may be the tipping point and if that is the case, then Assad’s days may actually be numbered. This time around, American involvement may speed things up and help deliver justice to the Syrian people. Here are five reasons why I believe the U.S administration will take the lead and help topple the Assad regime:
1. Regional approval and international support: The UN brokered peace plans initiated earlier this year never went ahead and Kofi Annan quit, citing lack of action. He cited lack of international community’s unity in solving this problem. Perhaps, this is forthcoming in a military action against Syria. Though this should be the last resort, it seems inevitable, given that this has dragged on for over two years. The fact that the Arab League has sanctions in place from November 2011, and there is consensus that the Assad regime is doing more harm than good. What is needed is a Security Council resolution to make any intervention legitimate.
2. Tipping point reached: The rumors that Syria may use Chemical weapons against the rebels is persistent, while an Al Jazeera report says that the U.S has not taken any hard steps to stop the killings. In Libya, the criterion was being on the “edge of being on an atrocity.” Chemical weapons may be this criterion for U.S involvement and the American stance seems to be getting stronger. A recent Guardian news item pointed towards some evidence about the presence of chemical weapons. While the deaths of 40,000 plus people is reason enough to intervene, the magnitude may increase more if these weapons are indeed used against the rebels and civilian population.
3. The Assad regime is a nuisance to the world: Apart from killing its own people and contributing to a humanitarian disaster, Syria is creating a very unstable Middle East. With an estimated 11,000 refugees leaving the country daily, the Assad regime is a good candidate as a war criminal for the Hague tribunal, once the dust settles down.
4. A viable transition: The emergence of a coalition of Syrian rebels, who may replace and fill the power vacuum after Assad’s transition. While this may not be a as smooth as one imagines, there is reason to believe that this is true, considering that there was consensus in Doha, a few weeks ago.
5. A "just" war: While the parallels with the Iraqi invasion are being drawn, I believe an intervention in Syria will be fundamentally different, in several aspects. The key one being that there is widespread support for action against the Assad regime, which seems to have lost legitimacy in the international community.
A realist would look at this situation and say that the Assad regime has exhausted any goodwill it had (soft-power) and is close to losing its battle with the rebels too (hard-power). Given this situation, the only alternative is for the situation to continue as it is, and for more chaos, or for the international community to come together and get closure on this issue, which has festered for too long; with an inconclusive outcome.
While I disagree with Samuel Huntington on many of his theories, his observation about transiting political order holds true in this case. He famously said in his first book The Political order in Changing Societies, "the primary problem is not liberty but the creation of a legitimate public order. Men may of course have order without liberty but they cannot have liberty without order.” Assad’s regime has lost its claim to be a legitimate order, and the world must step in to ensure there is liberty with some order and Syria does not descend into anarchy.
American involvement in this case may be a blessing and I believe that with Arab support and UN legitimacy, Assad’s regime should go.
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