At his first news conference since taking up office, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that the US is evaluating new options to halt Syria's civil war, although he stopped short of weighing in on the debate over whether to arm the rebels fighting against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, The Huffington Post reported.
Two days ago, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said that he still supported supplying weapons to rebels fighting forces loyal to Assad, the BBC reported. Official sources say that the US is only supplying diplomatic aid to the rebels.
Don’t you find it worrying that the newly appointed US Secretary of State mentioned chemical weapons and Syria in one sentence? Using those words at his first media conference was very telling.
Throughout the 21st Century, the west has fought many suspect wars. On the back of 9/11, a knee jerk reaction by the US saw various countries engaging in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fact that Iraq had chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) swayed former British prime minister Tony Blair to follow the US to war.
With the WMD proving elusive in Iraq and in order to cover their tracks, there was still accusations that such weapons had existed but had been moved, spirited away. In the UK, one man who looked likely to spill the beans, David Kelly a weapons inspector, was found dead. Suicide was the official verdict.
The West now appears to be itching to become involved in Syria. We did not hold back in Libya and Egypt, so why the reticence? Could it be that we learned lessons from our hasty involvement in Middle Eastern countries during the Arab Spring?
These are countries that were led by despots, but are now not much better since their ‘revolutions’? Is it simply that it is ‘early days’ in these countries or is that our interfering has made matters worse? Post revolution periods are never easy but most of the Middle Eastern countries involved in the Arab Spring now have uncertain futures.
Syria has proved an enigma to the West. Yes, people are dying. Yes, the most vulnerable in society -- the old, the young and the physical or mentally challenged -- are suffering. The problem for the West is, what will alleviate the situation?
Talk by western leaders of arming rebels, once again called the legitimate force of the country, is foolish. The West was all too quick to call the rebels in Libya and Egypt the official new 'force' but we have no proof that such forces speak for a nation.
The elections that followed the Arab Spring have shown that countries such as Tunisia, Egypt and Libya are still divided. Some now appear to be hotbeds for the latest breed of terrorists. As Islamist militant groups spread across the Maghreb and the Middle East, you have to wonder if we have helped open a veritable can of worms.
Syria needs aid but does it need weapons?
When weapons are supplied to unknown forces the potential for widespread disaster is huge. Even at this stage of the Syrian civil war it is known that the rebels are not one entity. There is more than one force trying to depose Assad.
Do the ordinary Syrian people, after such a long struggle, deserve to be ruled by another despot? The answer of course is no. They deserve a chance at freedom and democracy.
The West and in particular the US, should look to its not so distant past. Look no further than Afghanistan. Remember a time when Russia occupied Afghanistan. At that time the West was so feared of Russia that it wanted to scupper its presence in Afghanistan by any means possible. US agents worked with, and armed, the rebels, the Mujahideen and, in time, that band of people became the Taliban, and al-Qaida.
What now for Syria?
If you believe that the West is not already arming rebels then I would say you are living in 'cloud cuckoo land'. The war has dragged on too long. Syria needs a resolution. It does not need more conflict or weapons and neither does the West.