Syria’s Assad Dilemma

(Image Source: CNN)

Back in 2015, when the global media was focusing on Assad’s loss of influence in Syria, many opined that the end was neigh for the dictator. Many also believed that both the IS(IL) and the Al Nusra front will succeed in establishing a caliphate in the country, and consequently wreak havoc on the region.

Yet, after two years of ISIL’s apparent rise, and western efforts to overthrow Assad by supporting the Free Syrian Army, Assad is still in command of important parts of the country.

It is indeed a miracle that Assad, unlike his contemporaries, has survived so long, even though being confined to Damascus for most of the time, since the civil war broke in the country in 2011. During this time, he allegedly used all extreme measures, including chemical weapons, to destroy foundations of any insurgencies and uprisings against, yet, has so far failed to establish peace or defeat either of the militant groups.

So much is the hate for Assad in the global media that even an airstrike by another disliked leader, Donald Trump, against him was appreciated throughout the world.

It was claimed by the Trump administration that the airstrike was in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime against innocent civilians.

These claims sounded similar to the war hysteria that was created before Saddam Hussain’s Iraq was invaded on the preamble of (non existent) weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). It now seems that Sarin Gas and chemical weapons could well be a solid reason for a globally-backed intervention against the Assad regime in Syria.

An argument made against allegations of use of Sarin by Assad is; why would Assad, on the cusp of defeating the Islamic State, use chemical weapons and automatically invite a foreign intervention?

There was an alternate argument presented by Russia, one of Assad’s allies, on the whole Sarin saga. According to Moscow Assad’s Syrian air-force jets were attacking a rebel arms depot, and their rockets triggered explosions which allowed sarin to escape and cause the tragic death toll among men, women and children. The US, along with the western media, has so far denied this version, calling it mere fabrication.

Because the war narrative on the Middle East is strictly controlled by the Western media, chances of acknowledgement of any version of Assad or his allies’ stories are slim. The Russian version, though can not be corroborated, yet a UN report from 2014, citing rebels using the chemical weapons, proves why there might a possibility of the rebels using chemical weapons to achieve their goals.

The report on chemical weapons by UN in 2014 stated: “ISIS [the militant Islamic State group] has taken control of a vast former chemical weapons facility north-west of Baghdad where 2,500 degraded chemical rockets filled decades ago with deadly nerve agent sarin or their remnants were stored, along with other chemicals…”.

Trump, by attacking Syria, also went against his promise of destroying the IS, and thus indirectly aided IS by attacking Assad installations. Trump, along with the west, ignore the fact that the moment Assad leaves Syria, the fate of country could be worse than Libya. Libya, under Gaddafi, was a state boasting a unified nationalistic outlook, disregarding any tribal affiliations. Soon after Gaddafi was eliminated, the country divided into tribal militias and militant groups.

In Syria, the situation is predicted to be similar. The country boasts a number of religious groups such as Druze, Turcoman tribes, Alawites, Christians, Kurds and Sunnis. If, by an chance, IS comes to power, its primary targets would be the non-Sunni groups, with something similar happening in Iraq since its invasion by the US forces.

But, in all this chaos, an important question needs to be answered.

Who benefits from the current situation in the Middle and the rise of Sunni Militants?

The answer points towards a particular Sunni state in the Middle East, which opposes any presence of secularism and democracy in the region. That state also fears that any demand of democracy in its own country would threaten the decades old monarchy. Thus, one can’t help but think; are we blaming the wrong culprits from the get go?

 

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