Syria: No Intervention, No Reconciliation

Article Summary
The words of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in Syria seem to be falling on deaf ears, as the mission has thus far been unsuccessful in bringing the parties to the table, writes Sami Kohen. The divide between those for and against military intervention persists, although statements from Western leaders have made this an unlikely scenario.

In previous (Milliyet) articles we noted a key contradiction regarding the Syrian crisis. Some are upset with the international community’s lack of action and are calling for quick action to end the tragedy. Meanwhile, others claim that there should be no external intervention, and that it is up to the Syrians to solve this crisis themselves.

The latest developments reveal that this contradiction is still very much present, and that there is no indication of any external intervention, nor of any hope of reconciliation between the regime of Bashar al-Assad and the opposition.

The fact that veteran diplomat Kofi Annan — although determined to continue with his mission — has not been able to produce any tangible results from his contacts in Damascus is not a promising sign that Syrians will be able to reach a solution by themselves.

What’s more, there is no sign of military intervention by external forces, least of all from the West, as happened in Libya.

Turkish leaders, including Prime Minister Erdogan, had previously criticized the non-involvement of the international community with regard to the events in Syria. Recently, however, President Abdullah Gul voiced a new element of the Turkish attitude toward the Syrian crisis. According to Gul, foreign forces should definitely not intervene, as this would make issues in Syria that much more complicated.

When we speak of external intervention, we precisely mean military action. Intervention through political arenas is nothing unusual. The West, Russia, Iran and of course Turkey are all attempting to use their influence to steer events in Syria in concurrence with  their own interests and views.

At the moment, the West has no intention of intervening militarily. An article published yesterday [March 12] in The New York Times listed several reasons why the Obama administration, and especially the Pentagon, are not keen on military action against Syria: Syria has a strong army and air-defense system, a military operation against Syria would be too costly, military operations close to urban areas could entail heavy civilian casualties and an intervention could bring the US face-to-face with Russia and Iran. It is also safe to say that Obama doesn’t want take such a risk in an election year.

The European countries struggling with their precarious financial situations are similarly uninterested in opening up a front in Syria. As such, there is no reason to worry about the consequences of a military intervention. Naturally, this situation is very much to the detriment of the Syrian opposition and the Free Syrian Army commanders, who are all supported by Turkey.

President Gul, while opposing intervention by foreign powers, stressed the need for the problem to be solved through regional contributions. There are in fact also risks inherent to intervention by regional powers.

From Saudi Arabia to Iran, the interests of the region frequently clash over Syria and there is no consensus within the Arab League either. Of course, it would be better for the Syrians to work it out between themselves; no one wants foreign intervention as the solution to the Syrian crisis. But that is not happening anyway — there is no intervention on the horizon. And, as the crisis continues without sign of change, it is the innocent people who are paying the price.

Found in: us intervention in syria, us, president gul, ny times, kofi annan, arab league, arab

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