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Published on August 28th, 2012 | by Paul Sullivan


Syria’s Nightmare Today is the World’s Nightmare Tomorrow

It is clear that Syria is getting worse. It is clear that the United States, Russia, China, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Egypt, Israel and just about everyone else can do nothing to retrieve Syria from its inevitable collapse into yet another failed state in the region. There was a time a few months ago when something could have been done.

However, as has been the case in joint international strategic operations in the Arab Spring, even if something is tried it will likely be too little, too late, too disjointed, too disputatious and a real mess.

The Syrian opposition is a dysfunctional lot. Don’t expect too much from them. They don’t trust each other. Frankly, after the Butcher of Damascus has met his fate, which could likely mirror that of Ghaddafi’s or Mussolini’s, the opposition will more likely be shooting each other than talking about how to put the Humpty Dumpty of Syria back together again.

Lebanon looks like an extension of the nightmare. The Palestinian issue will be pulled into the Syrian nightmare. Jordan looks like it is on the edges of it now. Turkey is well into it in its Southeast. Iraq could easily fall prey to the ghosts of its Sunni-Shia divide found in Syria.

The Israelis are focused on Iran, whereas they should really be far more focused on Syria. The GCC states, especially Qatar and to a lesser extent the UAE and Saudi Arabia, have walked right into the Syrian nightmare thinking they could be part of the solution. Even the President of Egypt seems to think he has a solution. Egypt is trying to reconfigure its strategic position in the region. Starting with trying to solve the Syrian problem will likely not be a winning beginning.

There are now tens of thousands of Syrian refugees. There will be more. There could be thousands more killed and maimed before this year is over. The anger, resentment, bitterness and ethno-religious animosities that are developing could be the seeds for more disasters to come in the region. The Balkanization of Syria is almost complete.

The so-called experts should stop asking silly questions about the existence of a civil war. This is beyond a civil war. This is a rolling slaughter.

Al Qaeda is involved it seems. Other extremists are pouring in. This situation may be fuel for the Salafists and other extremist groups in the region to gain more power as well.  Syria could also be a rather well-placed safe haven for many violent extremist groups.

But, world leaders, you really must not worry. Don’t stay up at night trying to “solve” the situation. It is too late.

Frankly, the so-called world community failed the Syrians. In turn they have failed the Lebanese, Israelis, Jordanians, Iraqis, Turks and so many others because of how they have dropped the ball on the Syrian conflict. They not only dropped the ball; they watched it roll away as they had meeting after meeting.

Talk is cheap. The blood of the children in Syria is not.

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One Response to Syria’s Nightmare Today is the World’s Nightmare Tomorrow

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  1. avatar scottindallas says:

    Does this man only read the headlines? How can he ignore the overt and reported support of arms and fighters from Saudi Arabia and the GCC, Turkey, and even avowed CIA support. Yet he writes:

    “The GCC states, especially Qatar and to a lesser extent the UAE and Saudi Arabia, have walked right into the Syrian nightmare thinking they could be part of the solution.”

    Whatever, I don’t know that Assad’s ouster is so certain. His army is strong, and the Syrian opposition doesn’t and can’t hold any territory. I think we will see the costs to Turkey so mount, mostly due to domestic unrest–economic political and ethnic. Erdogon might be in a double cross from the US and his own military, who have venerable ties.

    I think the hope was that Assad might topple lightly; though that has drawn out. What we seem left with is a real fracture, a collection of mercenaries gathered in the region, who are wearing out their welcome in Lebanon, Turkey, and no doubt threaten Jordan and no doubt Israel.

About the Author


Paul Sullivan is an internationally recognized expert on security issues including energy security, water security and food security in the Middle East and North Africa. He is an economist by training and a multidisciplinary public intellectual by choice. He is an Adjunct Professor of Security Studies at Georgetown University and Adjunct Senior Fellow for Future Global Resources Threats at the Federation of American Scientists.

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  • Named after veteran journalist Jim Lobe, LobeLog provides daily expert perspectives on US foreign policy toward the Middle East through investigative reports and analyses from Washington to Tehran and beyond. It became the first weblog to receive the Arthur Ross Award for Distinguished Reporting and Analysis of Foreign Affairs from the American Academy of Diplomacy in 2015.

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