Author`s name Olga Savka

Syria Might Be Next

The American administration wants to change the Syrian government

According to the latest information from Iraq, the war is far from being over. However, the American administration already develops variations of repression against those Middle East countries, who stood against the war. As a matter of fact, all Mideast countries set out their protest or dissatisfaction about the army campaign in Iraq. However, there was only one country, the government of which set out an aggressive anti-war protest – Syria. It deems that Syria will have to become a scapegoat.

The Washington Post published an article yesterday, from which it was clear that the administration of the American president was determined to do something about Syria. It does not go about an army campaign, not in the nearest future, at least. Conservative officials of the Bush’s administration, the newspaper said, would wish to change the government of Syria. Yet, it was added that they would like to achieve this goal in a peaceful way, without a military force. Conservatives are the US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his first deputy Paul Wolfowitz, who have repeatedly accused Syria of rendering military support to Saddam Hussein. By the way, there is some information, which says that there were several Syrian servicemen killed or taken captive in Iraq (they waged war on the side of the Iraqi army).

Nevertheless, there can be very big problems with changing the Syrian government in a peaceful way. Both Previous President of Syria Hafez Assad and his son Bashar al-Assad pursue the opposition in a rather tough way. Speaking of the opposition, Washington is not likely to like it, for radical Islamists are the most explicit adversaries of the current political regime in Syria. By the way, Syrian special services helped Americans to arrest several outstanding members of Al-Qaida terrorist network after acts of terrorism of September 11th. One of them was an organizer of attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon – Mohammed Haydar Zamar. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received a letter of gratitude for that from American President George W. Bush. On the other hand, Syria is on the list of America’s “axis of evil,” taking into consideration the fact that official Syrian authorities did not conceal their sympathies for Hizbollah.

Nevertheless, the tendency to get closer to each other was gone after the USA started getting ready for the war against Saddam Hussein. As it was mentioned above, Syria was one of the few countries of the region, which harshly criticized Washington for that policy. Of course, citizens of all countries expressed their dissatisfaction with the war. Yet, in contrast to Syria, the official criticism was not that harsh. It seems that Syria will have to pay for their critics.

There is another aspect, which attracts attention of the White House. Syria has a lot of chemical weapons (sarin, mustard gas), as well as Scud missiles, which were acquired from the USSR and from North Korea. It is a paradox, but the Syrian government acquired North Korean missiles owing to its participation in the war against Saddam in 1991. As a token of appreciation, Saudi Arabia transferred one billion dollars to Syria for its help to oust Iraqis from Kuwait. Well, Syria never considered its chemical weapons as weapons of mass destruction. According to the official defense doctrine, poisonous substances were the means to fight with Israel, so they could only be used at war with Israel. This means that Israelis have every reason to wish for a change of the Syrian regime, taking into consideration the fact that the current leadership of the country is still devoted to Hafez Assad’s course not to sign a peace treaty with Israel  until the latter returns the Golan Heights.

Of course, the question pertaining to the change of the Syrian regime is a hypothetical question so far. Washington is not ready to use the military force, for it would have fewer allies in this case. However, considering this issue as a perspective allows to assume that the White House is going  to watch Syria’s every step. President Bashar al-Assad and his team are unlikely to favor such attention. By the way, according to a recent opinion poll, 42 percent American people support the idea of an army operation against Syria.

On the photo: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Vasily Bubnov

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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Topics syria