In deciding not to extend an arms embargo to factions fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the EU (European Union) has made a political blunder of unimaginable proportions. Alas, the EU’s move will only see more arms flood the country and thousands more lives lost..
Proponents of this decision claim it will put more pressure on Assad to negotiate an exit for himself and his regime. This is a serious calculation.
Such a move could even lead to the break-up of the Syrian state.
It would appear western powers have learned nothing from the recent and very tragic military interventions in the Arab world and region at large over the past decade.
Forced regime change
Forced regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya has only resulted in broken countries, shattered societies, shattered economies, a horrific number of refugees, and the rise of Islamic radicals.
So, why will regime change be any different in Syria? This is a very uncomfortable question for the EU, the US, Israel, and the oil rich countries of the Persian Gulf.
They don’t have a collective answer because they all have different agendas and different proxies on the ground in Syria fighting Assad’s forces. The US, British, French, and other Europeans say they support secular moderates in Syria.
Who are these people?
Where are these people on the ground?
As far as this writer can determine, these people only exist in YouTube videos for western propaganda purposes.
Israel will support any-and-all in Syria as long as the country remains divided and at war with itself. Ideally, Tel Aviv’s dream outcome is to see a regime in Damascus that will cut Iran’s ties to Lebanon’s Hezbollah. The political orientation of that regime is of no importance to the Israelis.
Israel has never had a problem with seeing the Sunni and Shia fight it out in the neighborhood. More arms to all the warring factions probably delights the Israelis no end (for now).
Oil-rich Arab countries
Saudi Arabia, Qatar & Co merely want an end to Assad and his regime in a gambit against the influence of Iran among the region’s Shia.
The oil-rich Arab countries of the peninsula also want to export their very own repressive religious regimes to others so as to stave off an 'Arab Spring' at home.
Who has been left out?
Well, the Syrian people for starters.
None of the outside players mentioned above (and there are others) have the interests of the Syrian people in mind – just geopolitical, region, and sectarian interests.
In the meantime, expect the flow of arms to continue - and the ensuing bloodbath.
Countries like the UK and France say they can control who in Syria receives their weapons. This is folly! When has this ever happened in the Middle East (with the exception of Israel, of course)?
This all the more remarkable considering it was most likely NATO arms in the hands of terrorists that killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi last September.
The fact of the matter is that controlling the use of arms in a war zone is beyond wishful thinking: it is a dereliction of political and moral responsibility.
EU abdication of responsibility
Before our eyes we are witnessing the EU abdicate any sense of obligation to protect the Syrian people from more senseless cruelty and death.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague claims there are not plans in the works to arm the rebels, but added, “all options remain on the table.”
Is the option of peace talks on the table?
This is a question Brussels appears to have little interest in.
As such, we are doomed to keep making the same dreadful mistakes. Alas, millions more Arabs – this time Syrians - will never forgive us for our actions and omissions.
*Peter Lavelle is the host of Voice of Russia's political program Debating Russia, and RT television’s debate programme CrossTalk.