Syria. “Good news”? Or not…

29 May


The New Yorker‘s Philip Gourevitch in this week’s Comment:

“Syria cannot be addressed in isolation. What concerns the United States most in the region is trying to avert war between Israel and Iran. (Last week, during negotiations in Baghdad to curtail Tehran’s nuclear program, Washington’s hopes ran prematurely high.) There is a risk of a regional Sunni-Shiite conflagration, as Saudi Arabia, which backed Bahrain’s crackdown on Shiite protesters, has advocated arming Syria’s opposition. There are Turkish misgivings about Kurdish rebels establishing bases in Syria; and Israeli anxieties about Assad’s accelerating military assistance to Hezbollah forces. There is also the question of Syria’s enormous chemical-weapons stockpiles: might Assad use them? Can they be secured if he falls? And there is the problem of Russia’s support for Syria—its lone remaining client state in the Middle East—and China’s support for Russia, particularly after both countries were angered by NATO’s use of its U.N. mandate to provide humanitarian protection in Libya to achieve regime change there. (Russia has called on the International Criminal Court to investigate allegations of NATOwar crimes in the campaign against Qaddafi.)…

“…none of the conditions that worked to NATO’s advantage in Libya—its geographical and political self-containment, Qaddafi’s abandonment, the efficacy of the opposition forces, the ease of executing the mission from the air—pertain in Syria. Instead, the situation has all the makings of just the sort of quagmire that NATOis impatient to get out of: the main item on the agenda in Chicago was to declare the plan to withdraw all combat troops from Afghanistan in 2014 “irreversible.”



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