Syria’s breaking point

The latest escalation of tensions between Syria and Turkey threaten to bring the conflict to a horrifying new level. Details are still murky as to why Syrian shot down a Turkish F4 Phantom. Syria did not dispute that they had shot down the plane; perhaps an overreaction but still a legitimate response to their breach of sovereignty. On Saturday Turkey did admit that they had entered Syrian airspace, yet back tracked somewhat on Sunday, saying that the plane was in fact shot down in international waters. It is safe to bet that Syria does not want a military confrontation with their neighbor. Turkey’s armed forces far out number Syria’s. And military confrontation would be disastrous for both nations. This is also the second reported attack onTurkish military personal. Syria also fired at Turkish troops guarding a refugee camp just over the border.

No doubt calls for some form of intervention will become louder in the following days. Turkey is said to be invoking article IV of the NATO charter which calls for high level meetings with all NATO members; military options have not been taken of the table.

An event like this could end up being the straw that broke the camels back. As many will remember it was the shooting down of Habyarimana’s plane that sparked the genocide in Rwanda. While this incident is much different the same basic principle remains.

The downed Turkish fighter jet could prove to be the catalyst for an intervention. All the rhetoric from the West (Saudi Arabia an Qatar included) about not wanting to cause more bloodshed is nothing compared to their the drive to oust Assad from power. Getting rid of Assad is viewed by the Americans and the Gulf states as key to weakening Iran. Turkey in turn wants to ascend to the mantle of regional power in the Middle East. Both sides have been itching for justification to get involved. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have gone do far as to say NATO and the Arab League could circumvent the UN by declaring war themselves.

The real net losers will undoubtedly be the Syrian people. Their goals of being free from repression and violence will go the way side in the face of the geopolitical goals. The Saudis care nothing for the plight of the average Syrian. They care only about maintaing hegemony through out the Sunni Arab world. Human rights and free speech will mean nothing when civil and regional war break out. And will mean even less to the theocratic dictators in the Gulf. Those advocating for intervention in the West should be weary that the loudest voices advancing this are some of the most repressive countries in the world. An endless cycle of violence will ignite through out the Middle East that will never end and will never be resolved. In the end the only winners will be the Saudis and Qatari’s.

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