D.R. HAFEZ – 16th November 2015
To be at war with the Islamic State is to give it too much credit. Its annihilation requires that we continue our strategy in Syria.
As the smoke clears and the moans diminish, the horror of corpses piled upon each other and the smell of blood and death in Paris have made many European politicians question the current “Western” strategy in Syria – we have been deluded, they claim. We should be allying ourselves with Russia and the Al-Assad regime in order to annihilate the Islamic State first – we are at war with Daesh.
However, as has been argued over and over again on this blog, such a change in strategy is risky at best and most probably detrimental to the final objective, that of quelling Daesh-like structures and their affiliates. In order to reclarify the reasons behind such thinking, let us examine the current proposals.
As has been stated previously, to target Daesh (rightfully so) alongside the Al-Assad regime will give the propaganda tool that the organization craves – it will prove that the West is in a war against (their) Sunni Islam – quite apart from fueling hatred towards any Westerner, it will very probably fuel acts of terror towards non-Sunni minorities : Shia, Yazidi, Christians etc.
Renounce to the regime change in Syria and the war will drag on and produce offshoots for a decade. An alliance with the regime will bring more fighters to Daesh’s aid. Daesh has not declared war on the west – such an affirmation would imply that the western governments recognize its rule. Daesh has brought its terror tactics to the west precisely because it cannot act in any other way. To “wage war” on Daesh and in conjunction with the Al-Assad regime is to give the organization a type of recognition, dare we say, legitimacy, when in fact, it is nothing more than a violent criminal organization.
Democracy is good enough for you – why not for others?
As the world’s press gather ponder on what the Paris attacks signify for democracy, individual freedoms and collective security, it strikes as rather hypocritical to uphold these values in Western Society and yet deny the same basic rights to the Syrian opposition that is currently fighting both Daesh and numerous Islamist offshoots and the Syrian regime.
Should a trip down memory lane be necessary, it is the brutal repression of the Syrian people coupled with the ineffectiveness of both the international community and the rebel’s infighting that allowed Daesh to occupy the Eastern regions of Syria – remember the brutal repression of the Syrian people only partially captured by the Cesar report, remember that the regime released Islamist prisoners during the 2013-2014 period (notably from Sednaya prison) and has been accused by Western forces operating in the region of targeting Syrian rebel forces instead of Daesh bases.
This is a classic tactic of authoritarian regimes – help foster a threat so extreme that it de facto eliminates the real political threat that demands an end to the reign of those in power. Finally, remember that those fighting from the beginning against the Al-Assad regime are doing so for the same reasons that spur Western forces to defend their democratic freedoms. Should the Al-Assad regime remain intact, family and all, could you, the tear-stained Parisian or European look a Syrian in the eye and ramble on about the need for democracy and greater freedom?
The great Russian example
Without wanting to name those wanting a stronger alliance with Russia on the precise subject of Syria, suffice to state that numerous politicians have called on greater cooperation with the Russian forces engaged in the county. As has been argued previously here, the aim of this blog is not to install a dogmatic hostility towards Russia – quite the contrary. However Russia is in Syria for its interests, nothing more – those interests may coincide with the maintaining of the Al-Assad regime for now, but what is abundantly clear is that those same interests do not include the ordinary Syrian people.
Likewise, far be it for this article to argue any overriding morality – in the world of geopolitics, such lofty ideals should be avoided. Quite simply, does Europe want to be tarnished with the same Russian brush that has seen such massacres as Chechnya and Afghanistan – would it really serve the interests of Europe and “the West”? To those ready to argue that desperate times require desperate measures and that, faced with the fait accompli of Russian intervention in Syria, we should make use of it, what argument will they give to the current events in Ukraine – in other words, just because Russia has decided to protect its national interests and side (for the time being) with Al-Assad, it does not mean that such a situation advantages Europe or the West neither in the short nor mid-term. A copy-cat behavior rarely pays off, and in any case, is only a pale reflection of the original copy: from a Syrian regime’s point of view a sudden change of heart from the European nations will not alter the deep-seated loathing that it will have, even if all the suitable niceties and diplomatic bowing are observed.
When effectiveness fuels hatred
Finally, perhaps it is a little too obvious to be stated, but Daesh attacked Paris as a symbol of European and Western intervention against its interests in Syria and Iraq – China has not been targeted, neither has Brazil, nor has Argentina or any other world players.
France was attacked because of its involvement in destroying the murderous organization – these horrific attacks on French soil are unfortunately the proof that Daesh is beginning to feel the heat – to change tactics, even allegiances would be to give in and allow al-Baghdadi’s men to feel that they can still influence the external military policies of a nation by a barbaric act – the precise definition of terrorism.