English adaptation of today’s think piece by political analyst Sarkis Naoum for Lebanon’s an-Nahar
When Qatar’s emir told U.S. broadcaster CBS Arab troops should be deployed to Syria to stop the killing there, many Lebanese, Syrians and Arabs questioned the credibility of his suggestion.
They wondered if he meant Arab military intervention to end the violence? If so, which violence? Violence by Assad’s regime against his opponents who, in the opinion of Qatar, the GCC, most Arab states and the West, make up most people in Syria, or violence by what the regime calls gangs of “terrorists and saboteurs,” or violence by the two sides?
Lebanese, Syrians and Arabs wonder if Arab states would want to deploy troops to Syria or can do so under their present circumstances. They also wonder if the Arab states would be agreeable to the move at the Arab League conference table or in two-sided consultations.
The Lebanese, the Syrians and most Arabs wonder if Syria’s Assad clan would accept Arab troops to either help it or help the rebels.
The regime’s rejection of any form of military intervention in its can lead to one of two consequences. Either the Arabs would refrain from intervening or intervene by force. The question here is if the Arab states are collectively or individually prepared, motivated or equipped for a military showdown with the regime. The answer is no.
Another question: Do the Arab countries have what it takes to intervene militarily? The answer is also negative.
Qatar, for instance, sent hundreds of troops to Libya but does not have thousands more to send to Syria.
Likewise Saudi Arabia, because: one, its long-standing policy is to shun military adventures and not to resort to force except when its security is challenged internally or externally or both at the same time. Two, it is worried about the threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran and looking to thwart that danger. Three, it is aware that security is vulnerable in its volatile Eastern Province where some Shiites there can be swayed by Iran.
The remaining four GCC partners simply lack the muscle.
Egypt, the Arab world’s military heavyweight, is busy with itself. It will remain so for a long time. After its disastrous military intervention in the Yemen war in the early 1960s, Egypt opted for nonmilitary involvement in Arab affairs. In 1976, for example, it refused to join the league’s Arab Deterrent Force (ADF) for Lebanon.
In turn, the Arab Maghreb countries are immersed in their own internal troubles. So are Sudan and Jordan, though the later is adept at active intervention.
To sum up, most Arab countries want to get rid of the Syrian regime but lack the needed capacity and power. That’s why they count on world powers, which so far refuse to use force to bring about regime change in Syria.
Only two countries -- alas both nonArab -- have the clout for change in Syria. They happen to represent the two main branches of Islam. Their military intervention could thus be palatable to Syrians and Arabs. But their visions, plans and objectives are at cross-purposes. Turkey backs Syria’s rebels while Iran stands by the regime. They won’t make up before Iran either jumps to bed, or goes to war, with America. Syria in the meantime will sink deeper in blood.