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The Syrian crisis

Mark Easley | Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chaos once again reigns in the Middle East as Syria is engulfed in rebellion against the feared Assad regime. For years, Bashur al-Assad and his family have oppressed the Syrian people and have fomented violence in the region to maintain power. Now in the wake of the Arab Spring, public revolt has boiled over and violence has erupted as the people try to rid themselves of Assad. More than 9,000 people have died since the uprising started a year ago.

The United States already has had the green light for war in Syria for quite some time. We not only have an obligation to stop Assad from killing his own people, but the Syrian government is also responsible for the direct and indirect deaths of U.S. servicemen in Iraq during the Iraq War. Hundreds of Syrian foreign fighters poured into Iraq to wage jihad against the United States. Money, guns and bombs also passed through the border to aid militias and insurgents fighting against U.S. forces. And for all the world knows, Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction could have been moved to Syria before the invasion of Iraq began.

Assad and his government are guilty of crimes against humanity, being a state sponsor of terrorism and acts of war against the United States and Iraq. For even more icing on the cake, the Assad regime has also caused serious trouble in Lebanon with its occupation of the country from 1975 to 2005 and aiding the terrorist organization Hezbollah. This meddling has caused conflicts with Israel that has made the people of Lebanon and Israel suffer.

Assad has been an enemy of free people since he took power and he rightfully deserves a spot in the axis of evil.

What complicates the situation is more external than internal. While Syria is heavily armed and well funded, I have no doubts the U.S. military will wipe the floor with their defenses and bring Assad to justice. These paper tiger regimes in the Middle East simply can’t stand up toe-to-toe with the U.S. in a fight. What is troubling is the significant Russian and Chinese presence in the country. Both countries are there to increase their access to resources as well as solidify their sphere of influence in the region. Some fear that engaging and removing Assad militarily could cause some backlash from one or both of the countries, perhaps even a bold military response.

President Obama certainly doesn’t want to deal with a conflict against two of our biggest rivals (in an election year nonetheless,) so for this reason alone it is unlikely we will see U.S. and international forces deployed in Syria.

However, a braver man would be able to call that bluff. Just as we were near powerless to stop the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, Russia and China would similarly be powerless and foolish to stop an invasion of Syria. With the backing of the international community and strategic deals to appease Russia and China, it is very possible to achieve a regime change and return peace to Syria. Would I trust Barrack Obama to do it successfully? If Egypt and Libya are any indicators – No way, Jose!

It doesn’t look like help is coming any time soon for the people of Syria, and for that I am truly sorry.

Mark Easley is a senior computer science major. He can be contacted at measley@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.