BERİL DEDEOĞLU

The Syrian civil war

There is disinformation where there is war. This is an expected result when you think »»

There is disinformation where there is war. This is an expected result when you think of the chaotic atmosphere an armed conflict creates. The independent sources -- if these exist -- can provide only limited information. Disinformation has become one of the tools of warfare, and it is impossible to know for sure how much of the information we receive from Syria is true.

Some sources claim that President Bashar al-Assad’s close relatives are already dead. Some others insist that his wife and children are now under protection on a Russian military base in the country. It is impossible to confirm these reports, but they give, nonetheless, some clues about the situation in Syria. If these rumors have been spread by the opponents, then they probably want to prove that they are about to topple the regime down and they want to expose once again Russia’s support for the Baath leadership. If these rumors originate from the government circles, then they want to show that despite great losses, the regime is still powerful and will pursue the fight and that it still enjoys Russia’s help. In other words, the same rumors may be interpreted differently and may serve both sides’ interests.

Disinformation is not only about what is going on inside Syria. One day, we read in the newspapers that the US thinks a no-fly zone over Syria is necessary, without saying who is going to declare it, according to which international regulations and under the auspices of which organization. The press insinuates that the US and Turkey are willing to establish the no-fly zone, but there isn’t any official confirmation on that. The following day, we read that air corridors will be established without confirming the beginning and end points of these corridors. It is also unclear who will establish them and how, given the presence of a Russian military base in Syria and the shooting down of a Turkish F-4 plane.

Following these reports, we suddenly start to hear American officials saying the US has no intention to lead the way in establishing buffer zones or air corridors. In other words, the US has no intention at all of being at the forefront. However, Washington will probably not have any objection if Turkey, Qatar or Saudi Arabia decides to send their soldiers to set up buffer zones and so on.

Well, I have a few objections to that. One needs to explain why these individual countries should carry the military burden, without any international legitimacy and when there are countless security organizations that can carry out such a mission. Besides, why should these countries agree to confront Russia and Iran? If Turkey, for example, decides to put in place buffer zones unilaterally, Saudi Arabia and Israel will probably be very pleased: they love the idea of Turkey becoming Iran’s main foe in the region.

The only way to make a military intervention work is to find a Kosovo-like formula. A unilateral intervention will not help the Syrians, and it will definitely not serve the interests of the intervening country.

Besides, the implicit purpose of buffer or no fly zones is to protect the opposition from the government forces. Today in Syria, however, everyone needs to be protected from everyone. The Syrian regime is committing crimes against humanity, as the UN confirms, but we also know that their opponents, the Free Syrian Army, are frequently accused of war crimes. The little we know about the situation on the ground is already horrifying; I don’t dare imagine what we don’t know. People keep leaving the country and the refugees are not only Sunni; along with Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, Iran and Iraq too receive refugees.

It is now clear that after the fall of Assad the unrest will continue in Syria. The Iraq example is right in front of us.

I wish you all a happy Eid.

2012-08-17

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Columnist:: BERİL DEDEOĞLU