A Free Syrian Army fighter carries a mortar launcher at the frontline near Nairab airport, which is controlled by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Aleppo, June 14, 2013.
Credits: REUTERS/Hamid Khatib
In 1982, Muslim extremists launched a civil war against Syria’s dictator, Hafez Assad. His soldiers chased them to the town of Hama, surrounded the city and pounded it with artillery for a solid month. Thirty thousand men, women and children were killed. The rebellion died, too.
Assad bequeathed his dictatorship to his son, Bashar, who now faces a similar revolt by similar extremists.
Credible reports put the death toll of the current civil war at 93,000. That’s sad.
But it’s a teardrop in an ocean of the world’s sorrows, especially in the Muslim world, especially these days.
A few years ago, 300,000 people were killed in the Sudanese region of Darfur. By Sudan’s own government.
Syria is a small country, barely 20 million people, with a GDP as small as the city of Edmonton. It has never been in the western orbit.
It was a Soviet client state during the Cold War, and is now a colony of Iran. The Russians still have a naval base in Syria’s port of Tartus.
What is the west’s interest here, other than to not get entangled in it?
It is all about entanglements now. Iran reportedly has 50,000 expeditionary troops there, defending Assad. The terrorist group Hezbollah has committed to defend Assad. Russia continues to sell hi-tech weapons to Syria, which already operates MiG-29 jets and in 2010 signed a contract for state-of-the-art Russian anti-aircraft missiles, called S-300s.
Israel is so worried about those S-300 missiles — and their ability to stop Israel’s F-16s and F-15s from flying missions in Syria — that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally visited Russian President Vladimir Putin to ask him to halt the sale, and actually warned that Israel would feel compelled to destroy the missiles before they were deployed. But Putin was not dissuaded.
That’s who’s on Assad’s side. But who is against him? Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama said he was.
He announced the U.S. will send military equipment to the rebels, and may even set up a no-fly zone over 25 miles of sovereign Syrian territory adjacent to Jordan, as a base of operations for the rebels.
Who are these rebels, to which Obama has allied America and its military?
Is there a Lech Walesa amongst them — the democratic hero who liberated Poland?
Is there a Vaclav Havel? Maybe even a Kemal Ataturk or a George Washington?
No. They’re a coalition, dominated by al-Qaida and al-Qaida’s affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra. More than a thousand radical jihadists from the west — a thousand Omar Khadrs — have gone to Syria to take up arms against Assad, including several Canadians. One of whom blew himself up in a truck bomb in the middle of a crowded street. That’s our “allies” now. Funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
These are not liberals. These are not democrats. They commit as many atrocities and war crimes as Assad does; both sides are descending into hell.
Rape as a military tactic is now standard, not only to punish and demoralize the other side, but to commit the rapists to fight till the death, knowing that if they ever surrender they would be killed mercilessly. Which both sides do.
Into this fray Obama has committed not just America weapons, but American men and women. That is what a no-fly zone means.
Do you doubt that Assad would use S-300s against those American jets if he could? Do you doubt Iran would? That Russia would?
But that is America’s problem. What is so terrifying is the certainty that Obama has pressed Stephen Harper to go along with this fool’s errand, to send forces like we did in the air war against Moammar Gadhafi.
Gadhafi had no allies or serious weapons; it was a turkey-shoot
Our 500 Canadian Forces were lucky to escape the mission unharmed.
It will not be such smooth sailing if Canadians are sent to enforce a Syrian air or sea blockade, at Commander Obama’s order.