No easy solutions in Syria crisis


Syria has me at a loss.   

Just two short years ago, an uprising began as a movement of the people to overcome an oppressive government.

When atrocities — such as the severe beating of Ali Ferzat that left the political cartoonist with both hands broken or the murder and removal of musician Ibrahim al-Qashoush’s vocal chords — it was apparent that the regime of President Bashar Assad was a nasty bunch that the world would be better without.

But over the course of the past two years, the people’s movement has grown into something much more difficult to support.

As rebel groups too numerous to name — many of which have already been labeled by the U.S. government as terrorist organizations during our other entanglements in the Middle East — converged on the country to support either the people’s cause or the Syrian regime, the country and its bloody civil war have become a complete quagmire.

Factor in the larger political context of the story — the one in which world powerhouse Russia has a vested interest in Syria as its main artery to the Mediterranean Sea — and it has become a global nightmare.

The stories of individual atrocities are now replaced with ones of chemical weapon attacks on the people that cannot be clearly attributed to either side.

Our own President Barack Obama was ready to rush into the fray at the first mention of chemical weapons. Without any international support or any scientific confirmation that the Aug. 21 attack was chemical in nature, he was already banging the drums of war.

I can’t agree entirely with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but the editorial piece he wrote for the New York Times last week was probably the most logical thing I have heard a world leader say about Syria. It was clearly written to serve his country’s purpose, but I can’t disagree that diplomacy is a much better place to start than war.

Evidence has now arrived in the form of a U.N. inspectors report released Monday confirming the attack involved sarin gas, but the report does not indicate who fired the rockets.

I certainly wouldn’t put it past President Assad and his military to unleash sarin on his own people.

But I can’t agree with U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power that “It defies logic that the opposition would have infiltrated the regime-controlled area to fire on opposition-controlled areas.”

It is completely logical in my mind that a group of these terrorist mercenaries siding with the original people’s movement would do just such a thing. It also makes me scratch my head when I read reports that no rebel casualties were reported from the Aug. 21 attacks — just civilians.

I can completely imagine a situation in which a group of mercenary fighters sneaks into enemy territory and fires off some chemical weapons to cause a major international stir.

These groups care for the people of Syria as little as Assad does. They just want a big nasty fight and they want to draw the United States into it.

And that’s where we must truly exercise caution.

Our military presence in the Middle East over the past half century has done little to win us allies. Quite the contrary, the same “heroic leader” we supported in Afghanistan’s war with Russia in the 1980s returned the favor by ordering terrorists to commit the worst foreign attack on American soil in our nation’s history.

I doubt that any rebel groups we support will think any higher of us as a people for sending them guns and bombing their enemies.

They care for us Americans even less than they care for the Syrians they are supposedly fighting for.

They are just fighting to be fighting.

Don’t get me wrong, though. There are still people in the movement who are fighting to be rid of an atrocious government and there are women, children and elderly humans suffering in refugee camps.

If we really feel the need to help at this point, maybe we could build the suffering refugees some amenities to make their camps considerably more tolerable instead of wasting that same money on bombs and jet fuel.

Meanwhile world leaders can spend the same time they would waging a war, working toward a diplomatic solution.

Acts of war don’t really create peace. Only acts of peace can do that.

Reuben Mees is an Examiner staff writer and advocate of peaceful solutions to world conflicts. He can be reached at