Thursday,20 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1163, (5 - 11 September 2013)
Thursday,20 September, 2018
Issue 1163, (5 - 11 September 2013)

Ahram Weekly

Net Notes

America cares only about itself

The debate over the crisis in Syria and the looming US attack on the country occupied the debate among Egyptians on social networks. Many Egyptians expressed their fear of a military strike against Syria by the US or any Western country, calling for the Arab League to do something to protect the Syrian people.

“I think we do not know who is killing who in Syria, but we know that the Arab League must step in and protect the Syrian people from Bashar Al-Assad’s regime and the Free Syrian Army [FSA],” said Malak Mahmoud.

Mahmoud added that the FSA had committed violations just like the Al-Assad regime “and it is not an honest guardian of the revolution”. Thus the only solution is an Arab peacekeeping mission to protect the Syrians.

Mahmoud Khalaf thinks that the US will not intervene to protect the Syrians but will take down Al-Assad’s regime which is one of its strongest enemies in the region.

“I do not believe that they care about the Syrians. The Americans only go after their interests in the region. We have to be careful,” Khalaf said.

Moataz Samir asked why the Arabs are always waiting for NATO and the US to solve their problems.

“We do not take care of our own business. We always allow the US and the West to solve our problems,” Samir said.

Samir added that the Arabs have to define what is best for the Syrians right now and act accordingly “without getting any permission from anyone”.

Syria can get worse

The Syria Comment blog, run by Joshua Landis, director of the Centre for Middle East Studies and associate professor at the University of Oklahoma, provides some reasons why the military option will not solve the crisis in Syria but would lead to further complications:

“The reasons why the US should avoid a wider intervention is that it has no partner within Syria or the international community to help shoulder the burden of nation-building.  All the countries of the region want Washington to solve their Syria problem, but none want to send in troops.

The Syrian opposition is dysfunctional and composed of over 1,000 militias, the strongest of which are radically pro-Islamist and virulently anti-American. Most are not prepared to work with the US or provide responsible government for the country.

Military intervention in Syria is not a viable option for America for several important reasons:

- Bombing is not a solution. Mere bombing will not provide a solution; in order to disarm militias and protect Syrians, the US would have to put peace-keeping forces on the ground to end revenge killings and provide security, yet Washington has ruled out sending occupation troops into Syria.

- The lack of desire on the part of Americans for another long-term Middle East entanglement without a foreseeable end.

- The opposition is incapable of providing government services. Millions of Syrians still depend on the government for their livelihoods, basic services, and infrastructure. The government continues to supply hundreds of thousands of Syrians with salaries and retirement benefits. Destroying these state services with no capacity to replace them would plunge ever larger numbers of Syrians into even darker circumstances and increase the outflow of refugees beyond its already high level. Syria can get worse.

Most militias are drawn from the poorer, rural districts of Syria. Most wealth is concentrated in the city centres that remain integral (such as Damascus, Lattakia, Tartus, Baniyas, Hama, etc) which have survived largely unscathed in this conflict, and have not opted to continue the struggle. If the militias take these cities, there will be widespread looting and lawlessness which will threaten many more civilians who have managed to escape the worst until now.

It’s not at all clear that US intervention can improve the economic or security situation for Syrians.

- Entering the conflict would mean America battling on multiple fronts, not only against the regime; the US has declared itself at war with Al-Qaida. If we were to intervene, we would have to enter a new front against the most powerful and effective Syrian opposition militias, in addition to the war against Al-Assad. Our forces would be targeted by extremists and more radically-Islamist militias. We would be fighting a multi-front war.

- The potential for ethnic cleansing and revenge killings is high. The different ethno-sectarian communities and socio-economic classes are renegotiating the dynamics of their relationship inside Syria. For the last 50 years, Alawites have monopolised the ramparts of power in Syria. They have allied themselves with other minorities and important segments of the Sunni majority, and the regime has preserved its power through a careful sectarian strategy. The rebellion, led primarily by Sunni Arabs of the countryside, aims to supplant the Alawite hold on power. The US cannot adjudicate the new balance of power that will emerge in Syria. It is not prudent to dramatically tip the balance of power in such a supercharged environment of sectarian hatred and class warfare.”


“Three conditions to successfully integrate Islamists in the Egypt political system: democratic constitution, ideological reform and investment in their new generation.”

@Ahmed Sarhan

“One year in power, the Muslim Brotherhood didn’t just prove their incompetence in ruling Egypt, but showed their radical ideologies and extremism never changed.”

@Ahmad Mahmoud

“We need to move from the willingness to die for Egypt to the eagerness to live for Egypt.”

@The Elders

“The Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary win in 2011 does not mean that 70 per cent of Egypt is Islamists.”

@Iyad El-Baghdadi

“Democracy works best when the wishes of the majority are held in check long enough for good sense to prevail.”

@Ammar Mahmoud

“People in Egypt are unhappy about having to choose between two evils? In Syria, people have to choose between 20 evils.”

@Ramy Mostafa

“Hamas may soon ask Israel to protect it from Egypt.”

@Amira Abu El-Yazeed

“Best constitutions are often created not by authentic representatives of the people, but by elitists who fear strength of the mob.”

@Salama Moussa

“Egyptian media must end its obsession with demonising #MB & start talking about the democratic process.”

@Wael Nawara

“Sectarianism is like warm urine down your trouser leg: it instantly gives you a warm glow but quickly goes cold.”

@Brian Dooley

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