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Friday, August 30, 2013

Obama's imminent Syria strike: Sanity for Britain and lessons for Iran


In a rare display of democratic sanity, the British House of Commons has jammed brakes on the whimsical plans of the PM Cameron to bombard Syria, at least for now.

This is in contrast to the US where president Obama apparently plans to move ahead with the strike even without congressional approval.

As the war scale buildup for the strike Syria was going on, Britain appeared to be ahead of even US till yesterday as the British air base in Cyprus was clearly smelling war. But the sheer baselessness of the British Government's claim that pinpointed Assad for the chemical weapons use acted to catapult the members of commons. It was a strange sense of deja vu as similarly provocative but essentially baseless evidence of WMD in Iraq had led to the cataclysmic Iraq invasion a decade back.

Has the possibility of a strike on Syria subsided significantly? I think, no. US still has the capability and will power to launch the attacks and they are unlikely to miss such a golden opportunity to strike a foe who, having consistently gained upper hand in protracted warfare, has suddenly become more vulnerable than ever.

There is no doubt the chemical attack in Syria was horrendous, to say the least. But while John Kerry has chosen to label it a 'moral obscenity' of the Syrian regime, as many analysts have pointed, it is perfectly possible for the reality to be just the opposite given the lack of motive for use of such weapons on part of Assad's forces and the desperation of the rebels.

In all likelihood, US will now proceed with 'a limited' strike in collusion with Hollande's France. That will certainly deteriorate the Assad's forces and the rebels could well take over with the arms newly supplied by the US. That is, however, far from a certainty: Saddam Hussein thrived for more than a decade after humanitarian bombs showered in the Iraqi cities. If Assad was blamed for 'massacring' his own people, now he will be the sole resister of the western aggressors in the Arab world and despite the degradation of physical power, he will gain the moral upper hand.

15000 previously unreported deaths in Iraq have made this headline in Guardian. But who will ask the superpower to account for the devastation? Now that the Obama's US is out to police the world morally, these questions are worth asking.

In this exceptionally well articulated piece for The Guardian, Seumas Milne argues strongly against any attack by the western powers against Assad's Syria. 

Also, a war has stopped being a piece of cake for the imperial powers today. The other unintended consequences of any strike on Syria may be substantial.

As this visionary analyst has articulated extremely well, however, the most significant long term impact of a US strike on Syria is going to be a nuclear Iran:

Now, this becomes a morality play for Iran. Of course, the Iranian regime takes very seriously the "fatwas" handed down by their Spiritual Leader and Supreme Leader not to embark upon a nuclear weapon program. But, is that the wise thing to do?

After all, we have to be alive first before we can think of observing "fatwas" - even Persians. The point is, the impending US attack on Syria should be a wake-up call for the Iranian regime - alerting it to the existential struggle that lies ahead.

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