Syrian Heat Speeds Up Cooking Gaddafi's Defeat
August 23, 2011
Libya is important. And referring to a column by Foreign Policy yesterday entitled "Was Libya Worth It?", the answer is
that it almost certainly was (especially to awakening colonial powers such as France and Italy) knowing the sea of black
gold that Libya floats on. Libya is important, but not as much as Syria. There is financial gain in the former, and
while the list of reasons for military intervention in Libya runs long, no strategic analyst can seriously advance a
claim that Gaddafi was becoming the Stalin of North Africa. Indeed, there may be some geopolitical strategy involved in
the NATO's bombardment of Libya, but geopolitics is the very essence of the Syrian situation. With Syria the parameters
of the conflict run long: Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, Golan Heights, instability in Iraq, Iran's influence on Iraqi
politics, Turkey's expanding economy and stiffening political will, the Kurdish issue, and so on.
Syria is getting out of control - and to policy makers in the mighty Western nations, it means Assad is losing his tight
grip on power. Assad is a favorite to the Israelis, and the tanks rolling into the Syrian cities were once upon a time
supposed to liberate the occupied Golan Heights, and the rest of Palestine, as the regime's propaganda invariably
But, Syria will be a more costly endeavor, and will undoubtedly be a long-lasting Iraq-like scenario, given the multiple
foreign and local factors at play there. Syria, has like Iraq and Afghanistan, a complicated geography. The Sykes-Picot
Accord, which drew the lines of the current Middle East post World War II were controversial ever since, and they were
meant to be. To lump together vastly differing ethnic, religious and linguistic groups over night meant a type of what
the late Edward Said called 'imaginative geography' must be in place. And like every image we imagine, or hope to
construct in the hope of creating a dream-like reality, it will surely fade and wear-out as muddy, earthy reality kicks
in. No better time than now has that geographic concept-dream faded in the Arab World, giving way to a vacuum of
un-ideological protests, but one which can easily be the beginning of new ethnic and religious groupings. In this
milieu, Iraq comes quickly to mind, and, given the readiness with which NATO interfered in Libya, Syria is naturally
next foreign-knocked domino.
Military analysts on Libya, even little informed generalists, knew well in advance that there was something odd about
the prolonged conflict - reaching a stalemate and no advance seemed in sight for a few months. But, now, before we knew
it, it is all over! Coincidentally, Syria seems more in a 'stalemate' than ever. The difference is that such 'apparent'
balance which a stalemate brings about is this time under the control of the Assads of Damascus, and not the big chaps
in NATO headquarters. The mighty honorable Ban Ki-Moon has just spoken tough (for the first time) that 'time is up' for
the Syrian president.
Gaddafi is 'defeated' and Mr. Moon quickly joins the troupe in beating the drumbeats of war.
Yahya R. Haidar is a freelance journalist and researcher in religious studies.