The Mideastwire Blog

Excerpts from the Arab and Iranian Media & Analysis of US Policy in the Region

Marc Lynch on Syria

A perfect illustration of why Mike Young’s punditry on Syria, discussed below, is so unhelpful. Perhaps he would support the more sensible and concrete positions outlined by US academic Marc Lynch? But we can’t know or be sure because 1) His ideological predilection and support for Western military intervention is so pronounced, thus raising the rightful suspicion that he really CRAVES this option (like Nasrallah has said he “Craves war, but we don’t want it”), and 2) his murky statements on what to do are… just so unclear/utterly without specificity.

From Marc at FP:

“…But I don’t see a great deal of leverage which the U.S. can on its own bring to bear on the course of events in Syria. There are no magical democracy words which will tip the balance. The reality is that the U.S. has few good policy options. There are some obvious steps, of course. The administration should focus on aligning its rhetoric and actions towards Syria with its broader regional strategy, without being drawn into ill-advised escalations. It should increase the spotlight on Syrian human rights abuses, and consider carefully targeted sanctions against regime figures involved in the repression. It should not recall the U.S. Ambassador from Damascus, or consider any form of military intervention. But it should make clear to Bashar al-Asad that he is on the path of Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh. The price of his choice to abandon serious reform efforts and unleash brutal violence will be steep, and work quickly to formulate a coherent regional response which can help broker a serious political transition in Damascus.

The key next step is to build a strong regional consensus among Syria’s neighbors on a Yemen-style plan for a meaningful political transition. This can not be a unilateral American initiative. It could only work with the active support of a diverse group of states who do not always work well together, including most crucially Saudi Arabia and Qatar, along with the rest of the GCC, and Turkey, which has gone from a painful silence to recently hosting a conference of Syrian opposition figures. (Ideally Iraq would be a part of this, though its current political tensions and Bahrain-fueled spats with the GCC make this unlikely.) There would have to be significant carrots offered in order to entice key Syrian actors to accept the offer, and fierce Iranian resistance would need to be overcome. The risks of such a regional initiative are high, and the continuing uncertainties about the Yemen deal certainly show that it won’t be easy. But the potential payoffs are enormous, and there are few more attractive alternatives on offer. It done successfully, such a gambit could rescue the Arab spring from the violent, bloody cul de sac into which desperate dictators have driven it, and hold out the prospect of fundamental positive transformations of the region…”

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Written by nickbiddlenoe

April 28, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Posted in ANALYSIS

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