The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Nir Rosen on Syria's future

I really recommend this article, the last part of a Q&A series with Nir Rosen, who has been in Syria in recent weeks. It covers the many reasons why intervention is unlikely to either happen, or if it does, to work in a satisfactory manner, how the conflict is likely to perdure short of a large-scale massacre, how Syrian society is likely to disintegrate as shortages become more common and tensions increase among communities, and no one seems to be able to really do something about it that doesn't risk making things worse. He concludes:

If this civil war comes to pass, it will lead to a humanitarian crisis. Already, there is a diesel shortage in much of Syria. And in much of the country, electricity is shut down at least some of the time - even if this is often done for punitive or offensive security reasons. In opposition strongholds, normal government services have ceased. Garbage is piled high; children do not go to school. Eventually, if this continues, infrastructure will start to collapse. Electricity will cease to be available. People will turn to generators if they have access to them. Fuel for cooking and heating will be even harder to come by. Already medicines for children and chronic conditions is hard to obtain in opposition strongholds. Neighbourhoods will be besieged, and tens thousands of families will flee for safety to other parts of the country.

Syria is crumbling before our eyes, and a thoroughly modern nation is likely to be set back many decades.

As seen in Iraq — indeed perhaps Nir is heavily influenced by his experience there, although at least Syria did not endure what Iraq did under the UN sanctions regime in the 1990s.

I often wonder whether Turkey could intervene in Syria (logistically supported by NATO). Nir thinks Turkey is unable to do it, and it is certainly reluctant. There would be a certain acceptability to Turkish intervention, in the manner that Vietnam intertevened in Cambodia in the 1970s. I think that they would have to do so in a brutal way that would empower their local allies (whatever they find) and crushes the Kurds. It could resemble, perhaps, the Syrian intervention in Lebanon in the 1970s, which was welcomed by the international community at the time. Ironically we may be seeing the Lebanonization of Syria, after all these years of Syrian power over Lebanon.