War Scenarios for Syria (II)


DAMASCUS/BERLIN (Own report) - German government advisors' new war threats are accompanying the fragile ceasefire in Syria. If the civil war in the country continues, Western states would either have to accept "the limits of their influence" or decide military intervention, writes an expert for "security policy" of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). An array of gradual intervention options could be conceivable, ranging from arms supplies and training programs for the Syrian insurgent militias, via partial occupation of Syrian territory ("creation of safe areas") to western invasion. According to the government advisor, this last option is improbable, but German participation should be assured in any case. Human rights organizations are deploring that Western supported militias (often Sunnites), fighting against the Assad regime, are also committing serious crimes. Experts are warning that Islamist forces could take power in Syria with the support of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the most reactionary regimes in the Arab world. Their regime could become just as repressive as the Assad regime. Libya's development could serve as an example.

Like Kosovo

German government advisors' new war threats are accompanying the fragile Syrian ceasefire. According to an exclusive article on the foreign policy periodical, "Internationale Politik" webpage, "the USA and European countries are faced with a dilemma" if the civil war continues in that country: either they accept "the limits of their influence on the Syrian regime" - an improbable admission of Western weakness - or they weigh "the options for military engagement to contain the conflict with all the associated risks." This seems to be a "still distant" option, but "at second glance" the situation seems to be "somewhat differentiated." A "further escalation of the Syrian power struggle" would increase the "pressure to act" in favor of "repeating the Kosovo scenario:" "Because of the grave humanitarian crises, the West could feel obliged to intervene militarily, even without the appropriate Security Council mandate."[1] The author of this article, Markus Kaim, is the director of the Security Policy research group at the government sponsored German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). Kaim has repeatedly appealed for Western military action in Syria, also on the radio.[2]

Threshold to War

Kaim presents an array of "five options" for the gradual escalation of military activities, which would be difficult to "clearly delimit in reality." The first option could be the "covert deployment of special forces" to support the armed opposition with "training and arms" and to weaken the Syrian military forces "by sabotaging the military infrastructure."[3] According to secrete service sources, British Special Forces are already deployed - alongside soldiers from Qatar - in Syria to support the Free Syrian Army. London and Washington have officially announced intentions to equip the Syrian insurgents with communications technology. If one is ready for escalation, alleged "safe areas" on Syrian territory could be established, explains Kaim. These "safe areas" are officially designed to protect refugees from attacks by Syrian repressive forces, which are known for their brutality. But their creation would in fact mean occupation of Syrian territory. Kaim speaks, for example, of "an eighty by fifty kilometer" zone, which would require a contingent of about "forty to fifty thousand" soldiers and the disablement of the "Syrian air force and air defenses." Particularly NATO member Turkey is pleading for the creation of so-called safe areas. Kaim concludes: this would "exceed the threshold to an international armed conflict."

German Leadership Disposition

"Safe areas" could be created not only for refugees but also for the Free Syrian Army, Kaim proposes. These could help assemble the militia still fighting dispersed, provide Western training and equipment and prepare for a concerted offensive - as an organized military force of 15,000 to 20,000 men. The "safe areas" would therefore become the military "basis for regime change in Damascus," which has been intended so far politically, but not with official military partisanship.[4] In addition, it would be possible to openly operate against arms supplies to the Syrian repressive forces, writes the SWP government advisor. This would however demand "important naval forces, including naval and airborne reconnaissance to monitor the territorial borders." Moreover, the danger of a severe confrontation with Syria's main arms suppliers - Russia and Iran - could not be ruled out. "The medium term impact of such a confrontation" is "hard to estimate." A military invasion such as in Iraq is unlikely, according to Kaim. It would be difficult to assess the "necessary forces," Kaim explains Western qualms to wear out their own armed forces in a new expensive war of occupation. Independent of the escalation stage, in which the West would become militarily involved, the German government and the Bundestag should be "prepared for the question of German participation (...) being raised." "Germany's role in the Euro crisis" has raised the "question of German leadership disposition and capacity in Europe and beyond." It is posed in the Syrian conflict as well.

The Libyan Model

Whereas, for the time being, Kaim's plea for military action in Syria, with German participation, does not find majority approval in Berlin, political support for the insurgents is undisputed - regardless of the growing international criticism of their militias, particularly the Sunnite forces among them. The organization, Human Rights Watch, which usually documents brutal attacks by the repressive government apparatus - including illegal executions - recently addressed an Open Letter to the Syrian opposition, listing numerous cases of kidnappings, torture and arbitrary executions by the Syrian insurgent militia. Assassinations of members of certain population groups are repeatedly reported. Particularly Alawites are being tortured and executed. The Alawites are Shiite, like the Assad Clan.[5] This corresponds to reports from numerous other sources, according to which especially Sunnite rebel militia, some of whom Islamists, are also brutally attacking civilians. Qatar and Saudi Arabia are supporting particularly the Islamist militias also with arms deliveries according to congruent indications. If these forces would seize power, a development similar to that in Libya would loom, where rival, often Islamist militia - who also were particularly supported by Qatar - replaced the Gadhafi regime. Human rights organizations raise strong criticisms against them. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[6])

A War by Proxy

The West's, including Germany's, attempt, with the assistance of Qatar [7] and Saudi Arabia, to replace Assad's - like Gadhafi's - regime with Sunnite forces, has been received with reservations even among western foreign policy experts. The International Crisis Group, for example, warns that western sanctions against Syria could transform "a socio-political crisis into a comprehensive humanitarian one." One also should not forget that dictatorships on the Arabian Peninsula, notably Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are at the forefront to topple the Assad regime, with their "religious leanings, lip-service to domestic reform and defence of Bahrain's suppression of its Shiite majority" are "dubious champions of personal freedom and human rights."[8] Elmar Brok, Chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs recently confirmed that "the Sunnite fundamentalists on the Arabian Peninsula" notably support "Sunnite fundamentalists" in Syria, therefore systematically strengthening their position.[9] This is precisely the aim of Western operations: a Sunnite regime in Damascus would not support Shiite Iran, as Assad does, but would take up positions against Teheran. The civil war in Syria, which began as a rebellion against a repressive regime collaborating with Germany [10] in 2011, is, under Western influence, being transformed into an instrument in the Middle East struggle for hegemony over Iran.[11]

[1] Markus Kaim: Eingreifen in Syrien? zeitschrift-ip.dgap.org 30.03.2012
[2] see also War Scenarios for Syria
[3], [4] Markus Kaim: Eingreifen in Syrien? zeitschrift-ip.dgap.org 30.03.2012
[5] Open Letter to the Leaders of the Syrian Opposition; www.hrw.org 20.03.2012
[6] see also Europas Wächter
[7] see also Die kommenden Kräfte
[8] Now or Never: A Negotiated Transition for Syria; International Crisis Middle East Briefing No. 32, 05.03.2012
[9] "Assad muss immer mehr isoliert werden"; www.tagesschau.de 14.04.2012
[10] see also Oktober 2001, Deutsch-syrischer Herbst, Repression - The Common Denominator (I) and Der gemeinsame Nenner Repression (II)
[11] see also War Threats against Syria and Iran's Achilles Heel