The Syrian civil war is a three-way struggle between Sunni jihadists, Sunni secularists, and Iranian Shia-backed Alawites, who constitute the government. Of the opposition to Assad, the greater part is jihadist. Alawites are about 11% of the Syrian population: like the Afrikaners, they may run a brutal dictatorship but they represent very little threat to their neighbours because they are atop an unstable pyramid. Alawites are heretical to Sunni Islam, and when the rebellion against Assad began, the Sunni protesters shouted the slogan:
“Alawites to the grave, Christians to Beirut!”
I suggest that Sunni goals remain the same after three years of brutal civil war.
Syria’s population is about 23 million.
So now Obama wants to bomb Syrian government chemical weapons factories, to prevent their future use. After this spanking, Assad will continue as before.
Do we have any significant interest in overthrowing Assad?
No, we do not.
The Middle-East is composed of Muslims, not liberal democrats. When the “people” come to power , as in Egypt recently, the “people” rapidly morph into a plebiscitary dictatorship, as Morsi’s Egypt was becoming, or had become. Only monarchies and armies provide stability and protection for religious minorities: viz Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey before the populist Erdogan took over.
We have a strategic interest in stable, repressive dictatorships or, better yet, enlightened monarchies, in Islamic countries. We do not have an interest in populist revolutions (Iran, Egypt) of any kind in the Arab Middle East. In case you are wondering, 4,000 civilians have been killed so far this year in Iraq’s Sunni-Shia struggles, and a mere 10,000 wounded.
How’s that hopey changey stuff workin’ for ya?