In clips of the highly anticipated Charlie Rose interview with Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president claims that the U.S. can "expect every action" if it intervenes in Syria. Yesterday, when Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed that the Assad regime turn over its chemical weapons to the international community, Assad "welcomed" the idea. This diplomatic gesture has a number of unforeseen consequences regarding a possible U.S. intervention, but in the event that the U.S. does enact a military strike, here’s a compiled list of possible repercussions to a U.S. military intervention in Syria.
1. Syria Can Directly Retaliate
As far as military operations go, the bombing in Libya was a success because Gaddafi's forces didn't retaliate against the U.S. The Libyan rebels also weren't up against the possibility of chemical weapons. If Syrian targets are bombed, the conflict won't be so one-sided.
2. There Could Be U.S. Casualties
Why don't Americans like the concept of "boots on the ground"? It's because many of them have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Among other problems, the lives lost in these conflicts have created a war fatigue that is easily upset with U.S. casualties. Any action against Syria will not be simply the drone strikes the public is used to, but rather air force personnel susceptible to the fighting air squadrons of the Syrian air force. Assad promises there will be repercussions. As soon as there is a U.S. casualty from combat engagements, his or her name will be all over the media, which will turn this potential strategic bombing into an emotionally tolling extension of the war fatigue.
3. Hezbollah Can Mobilize a Large Opposition Combat Force
While Hezbollah is a political party and paramilitary out of Lebanon, Hezbollah fighting forces have taken part in numerous Arab conflicts including the Syrian Civil War. Hezbollah fighters have already fought in numerous battles, including Aleppo. Any U.S. strike would bring about a massive mobilization and retaliation. Iraqi Hezbollah leader Watheq Al-Battat announced that Iraq alone had "23,000 fully-trained and equipped martyrdom-seeking forces who can blow the U.S. interests in Iraq and the Persian Gulf at any time if the U.S. commits such a stupid act." Al-Battat also expressed that Iraq might target its military actions as Israeli targets to retaliate against the U.S.
4. Iran Can Strike U.S. Targets Outside of Syria
Despite appearing to be more moderate, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani may have already frosted over any progressive U.S.-Iran relations. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Commander-in-Chief Mohammad Jafari announced that a U.S. strike would prompt "reactions beyond Syria's borders." Additionally, the U.S. intelligence community has supposedly intercepted Iranian military orders for a strike against U.S. embassies in Baghdad and Beirut, according to the Wall Street Journal.
5. The U.S. Can Be Dragged into a Long-Term Conflict
There are way too many variables at play to guarantee any quick and efficient end to the Syrian Civil War, let alone an efficient military strike. With international support from the Russia, China, and Hezbollah in Lebanon, there's no guarantee that al-Assad can easily be taken out. If he were to escape, he could still lead his own forces from afar. If retaliation includes attacks against Israel, the U.S. has more on its plate than strategic bombing. If Turkey is attacked, which it could be in an escalated situation, then NATO allies might be dragged into the growing conflict. This isn't a a simple a short-term problem and solution.