Only Bombing Assad's Forces Will Stop the Slaughter Now

(Independent-UK) Amos Yadlin - President Bashar al-Assad continues to exploit the international community's propensity to turn a blind eye to the escalation in Syria, which now results in the murder of hundreds of innocent civilians each week. A military intervention need not involve a ground invasion or even peacekeeping forces. The recommended model, built on the lessons of Iraq, is a Western aerial campaign that paves the way for regime change, as it did in Kosovo and in Libya. There are no "boots on the ground." The Syrian defensive capability is not dramatically greater than Iraq's of 1991 or 2003, which already included advanced Russian systems. As the Syrian military has been preoccupied with internal uprisings over the past year and a half, it is likely that its capabilities have eroded. Therefore, those who doubt the West's capacity to face the current Syrian defense ignore the fact that Western power was built to cope with much greater challenges. The "Responsibility to Protect" principle, endorsed by the West and formally adopted by the UN in 2005, declared the international community's obligation to halt and prevent mass atrocity crimes. In today's situation, it compels Western leaders to act with the Arab League to stop the massacre of Syrian civilians by the regime. It also obliges the Western powers to promote this campaign with their allies if Russia and China obstruct any broad endeavor under the UN framework. Military intervention also enables Western powers to cope with the potential use of chemical weapons. Finally, acting in Syria could weaken, if not break, the nexus between Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, and Palestinian terror organizations, and therefore likely contain Iranian influence in the Levant. This would have a dramatic impact on the balance of power between radical and pragmatic forces in the region. And it would signal to Iran the West's resolve to back up its interests and threats with force. A "Syria first" approach might complement international efforts and undermine Tehran's recalcitrance vis-a-vis the West. The writer is Executive Director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University and former Head of Military Intelligence of the Israel Defense Forces.

2012-09-07 00:00:00

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