The situation in Syria has no doubt escalated beyond what anyone imagined: it’s been nearly a year since the rioting began, and yet the al-Assad Regime is still in place. What makes the situation even stranger is that no one is stepping in to help.
When the situation in Libya got ugly-i.e., Gaddafi refused to go out in peace (and instead went out with a definitive bang)-NATO stepped in and gave the rebels a little assistance. France was all up in arms (literally) to save the plebians of Libya. The situation in Syria is just as dire as that in Libya was, or so one would think: the majority want the president out. The despotic, nepotistic president refuses, and rains bloodshed on his people, calling them “terrorists.” But, with the exception of the Arab League’s “peace talks” which were an utter failure, no one is gearing up to arm the rebels this time.
Why not? With more than 9,000 deaths since the rioting began, what’s happening in Syria is a massacre. Al-Assad clearly doesn’t believe in democracy, and it is a shame and a sham to call him “president;” he is a dictator, not a president. Where did the Middle Eastern “presidents” of old (Ben Ali, Gaddafhi, Mubarak, Al-Assad et al.) got the idea that to be called president meant a lifetime of service, unopposed, unchallenged? Why won’t Al-Assad just let it go? Even if he was able to squelch the Syrian National Council, he would never be favorably received by any decent government ever again, and if said governments had any ounce of honor they’d sanction Syria until Al-Assad submitted. Oh wait, but that hasn’t worked so far!
The main reason Al-Assad is probably still sitting in office is because he has no real physical threat-that is, war-from the outside world. I am in no way suggesting that the poverty-stricken West or any other country (except maybe the wealthy Gulf states, in act of penitence) should go to war against Syria; war and violence are never the answer. But since the rebels will never stop fighting, the least the world could do is offer up money and/or arms. Sanctioning and public shaming don’t seem like they will work, unfortunately (look at Iran); and as a result, the citizens of Syria are put at risk as their country falls into ruin.
Perhaps the West is afraid of Al-Assad’s downfall. The once-promising Arab Spring has never looked so unpromising now. With the exception of ringleader Tunisia who seems to have pulled itself up to acheive the goals of it’s revolution, Egypt has (as I have so “lovingly” documented) been a disaster; Libya likewise. And with protesters on the move in Bahrain and even Saudi Arabia, the West is no doubt nervous about further overthrows. An interesting excerpt from a CNN article says:
“The Alawites [minority sect that Al-Assad belongs to] remain an important component of Syria, and will continue to enjoy the same rights as other citizens as we build one nation of Christians, Muslims, and other sects,” an SNC statement declared. “The regime will not be successful in pitting us against one another. We are determined to unite our society, and the first step is for us to extend our hand to our Alawite brothers and sisters, to build in Syria a nation governed by citizenship and the rule of law.”
This statement from the Syrian National Council sounds promising, not to mention very democratic, but recent history has proved that sectarian violence has not ended with the overthrow of a dictator. Post-Gaddafhi, those who were loyal to the leader were taunted, harassed, even executed; loyals even recaptured Gaddhafi’s hometown. Post-Mubarak, Christians in Egypt have suffered just as much, if not more, as the police also disappeared from the scene. People without a strong figurehead, apparently, would rather fight with each other than find a solution.
The situation in Syria continues. Rebels and innocent Syrian bystanders alike, including world-class journalists such as Marie Colvin, continue to die. When is the world going to step in and say that enough’s enough? Or better yet: why can’t Al-Assad just give it up?