Nuclear aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush has reportedly anchored off Syria. As an Arab League deadline to allow observers into the country passes with no response from Damascus, the possibility of intervention in Syria seems to be growing.
The George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group along with additional naval vessels are to remain in the Mediterranean to conducting maritime security operations and support missions as part of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn.The US 6th Fleet is also patrolling the area, Interfax news agency reports.
Meanwhile, America and Turkey are urging their citizens to leave Syria. The US released a statement on Wednesday urging American citizens to “depart immediately while commercial transportation is available.”
Against this backdrop, the prospect of humanitarian intervention in Syria no longer looks like such an impossible scenario. And pressure is growing on the issue.
Paris is urging the creation of a secure zone to protect civilians “that would allow aid groups and observers into Syria”and is seeking support from the US, UN and the Arab League. French foreign minister Alain Juppé said he was speaking with partners in the United Nations, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Arab League on the issue. However the EU stopped short of endorsing a French proposal for EU-backed humanitarian corridors on Thursday, acknowledging, however, that protection of civilians in Syria remains a top priority.
The imposition of a no-fly zone over Syria by the Arab League with US logistical support, is also being discussed, according to the Jordan-based Al Bawaba news website. A strong sense of déjà vu prevails, with the specter of a Libyan scenario repeating itself.
Rumors about the no-fly zone over Syria came in the wake of Tuesday’s United Nations General Assembly resolution which condemned human rights abuses by the Syrian regime, including the killing, arbitrary imprisonment and torture of civilians.
Meanwhile, an Arab League deadline for Syria to allow an observer mission into the country or suffer crippling sanctions passed on Friday without a response from Damascus, a League source told AFP.
“Until now, there has been no response from the Syrian government,” the source said after the 1 pm (1100 GMT) deadline. Damascus has been given until the end of the day to respond, if it is to avoid sanctions.
Earlier this month Russia, the most powerful opponent of the West’s push for “international intervention,” also anchored its warships in the Syrian port of Tartus. According to unconfirmed reports, the warships were carrying technical advisors who will help Syria set up and run advanced S-300 missiles supplied by Russia. However, there is no official confirmation that the S-300 missiles have actually been delivered to Syria by any side.
Meanwhile, Moscow has announced it opposes a military scenario for resolving the Syrian problem and the use of a human rights argument as an excuse for foreign intervention in the affairs of a sovereign state. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said that “under no circumstances must human rights issues be used as a pretext for interfering in the internal affairs of a state.”
Moscow has also abstained from voting on the resolution by the UN General Assembly Human Rights Committee thanks to “the humanitarian focus of the draft’s text,” said Lukashevich.
Patrick Henningsen, a political analyst from the US-based Infowars.Com online magazine, believes that the escalation of tensions over Syria between the world’s major powers may lead to a new chilling in world politics.
“I think we are going to see a new Cold War emerge in the next two years, and we are seeing the initial steps of that new Cold War right now,” he told RT.
“If the Western powers think they are going to get away with a no-fly zone in Syria, this is a very different prospect than Libya. This will be the first time, in Syria, and also, if you look forward – with Iran, that the West, actually, is engaging a country that has the ability to fight back,” Henningsen said referring to Russia’s close military co-operation with the two countries, as well as rumors of S-300 installations having been supplied from Moscow.
Experts say that even the armed opponents of Bashar al-Assad’s regime would strongly oppose any interference from outside.
“Even among the opponents of the ugly Assad regime, many in Syria will actually not welcome an intervention by Western forces,” even if it comes in the shape of fellow-Muslims in the Turkish army, predicts Dr. Pierre Guerlain, a professor of political science at Paris West University.
And Dr Marcus Papadopoulos, an analyst from Britain’s ‘Politics First’ online magazine, told RT that any hopes of bringing peace to the region by toppling the current Syrian government are delusional.
“I can’t see how they can possibly believe that peace will come to the Middle East with president Assad falling, I mean if we have a look at some of the people that the Syrian government is fighting against at the moment, they’re actually armed militants, they’re criminal gangs, and many of these armed militants have links to religious extremism, so once again, I think it’s a reckless, negligence, short-sighted approach that the West is taking.”
Earlier this month, Arab League foreign ministers suspended Syria in response to its violent suppression of anti-government rallies.
An uprising against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad started eight months ago. Since then, an estimated 3,500 people have died in clashes with government forces.
- Syria snubs its nose at Arab League sanctions (smh.com.au)
- France says days of Syrian government are numbered – BBC News (bbc.co.uk)
- Syrian government days ‘numbered’ (bbc.co.uk)