Those nations who support American action in Syria mostly seek more than just punishing Assad. They want regime change. However given the disparate elements that are opposing the Syrian tyrant regime change is much easier said than done. Even the degree of change is not agreed to be the critical players—the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
The Gulf Cooperative Council States lead by Saudi Arabia has called upon the world community to “rescue: the Syrian people from their government’s “oppression.” “The genocide and grave human rights violations, faced by the Syrian people necessitate an immediate intervention by the international community,” GCC Secretary General Al-Zayrani is quoted as saying in today’s Saudi Gazette.
Turkey also seeks regime change but is concerned about the emergence of transnational jihadists running the country. The Turks fear that the jihadists could become allies of their Kurdish minority. The Obama administration seems to share the regime change view, though people like Senator McCain don’t separate the loyal Syrians from the Al Qaeda backed jihadists. This divergent view contributes to the do nothing view that is currently running through Washington. Politically it is impossible for the administration to say that it would support the emergence of an Al Qaeda backed group.
The Us has been supporting the Free Syrian Army, but doing so at the expense of the other rebels is a balancing act of some magnitude. This also applies to the provision of arms, which will be the subject of another article.
The Saudis have a much more aggressive position. The Saudis are pleased to see that the US may finally exercise the military option. Ultimately the Saudis want the Alawite regime toppled and look to the US to do it. Regime change helps the Saudis thwart or reduce the influence of their biggest enemy--Iran and its two allies-- Iraq and Hezbollah.
The Saudis seem to know that the total collapse of the Assad regime will create a power vacuum that could be exploited by transnational jihadists. The Saudis would almost welcome such a situation as it would undermine the Iranian regional influence. The Saudis may even see the jihadists as tools who would oppose the Iranian Shias thus forcing Iran to focus on such problems. Also the ability to move arms through Syria to Hezbollah would be limited by the jihadists as they sought to gain those supplies for their own use. This would force the Iranians to expose that line of communications to even further disruption because of the need to use alternate routes that the Israelis could interdict.
The divergent views on the degree and the management of regime change suggest that possibly the best strategy is to let the bloodletting continue so both the jihadists, the Alawites, Hezbollah and the Iranians are weakened in the process. This may not seem to be a humane approach, but it may be the most effective approach in the near term until we can figure out how to insure that the Free Syrian Army is jihadist free and can be the only beneficiary of military supplies. This will take time. Will the politicians on all sides and all the involved countries be patient to allow that to happen? That is a burning question.
The answer to the question of attacking Syria thus remains NO!