Saddam Hussein called the first Iraq war the “mother of all battles”. Wait a minute before you blame me for quoting a dead “despised dictator”. Look at today’s Middle East and North Africa. Barring some hit-and-run or run-after-being hit military campaigns such as the Libya bombing of 1986 or the multinational forces in Lebanon during 1983-84, the Iraq war was the first major direct American intervention in the region. In 1991, the Americans came to the Middle East to stay there. Twelve years later, Iraq was bombed again, destroyed and its president assassinated.
The country is now at war with itself. Three years later in 2006, Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, a permanent non-state enemy of the American-Israeli-Saudi war trinity, was bombed by Israel under the blessings of Washington. The 30-day bombing left massive destruction in Lebanon, but Hezbollah still survived, thereby delaying the imperial war plans. But it all resumed in 2011 when President Barack Obama “led from behind” another bombing campaign on Libya, toppled the regime in Tripoli and executed the leader, Moammer Gadhafi. Just two years later, Obama is gearing up for another war—this time on Syria. The region is in a bloody chaos, grappling with a humanitarian catastrophe. After all, Saddam Hussein was not completely wrong.
This time, Obama wants to employ a 60-90 days bombing on this country of 21 million people. He initially called it a “limited strike”. But we all knew from the beginning that the real target was a regime change in Damascus. Those who are not convinced can read the Senate resolution on Syria that stresses the need to “change the momentum on the battlefield”. Like previous wars, the American establishment and its satellite nations have come up with their own excuses, backed up by intelligence claims, to defend action on Syria.
Like previous cases, these intelligence claims could anytime turn out to be fairy tales. But unlike previous wars, an attack on Syria could be very dangerous, perhaps more dangerous than most of us imagine now. Because, today’s Syria is not just a country where an armed rebellion is challenging a despot (say a Libya-like situation). Nor it’s a country where an isolated dictator, weakened by external bombing and decade-old sanctions, would go underground in the wake of an invasion (say another Iraq). Syria is already a geopolitical battlefield where different powerful actors are already present, either directly or through their proxies.
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