Friday, October 5, 2012

The Beginning of the End for Syria (and the Middle East?)

Word just came in about another "accidental" shelling by Syrian forces across the border into Turkey, and the Turkish aren't happy about it. Complying with the rules of engagement, Turkey has fired back into Syria, continuing what has been almost two full days of constant artillery fire across the border. Luckily, no other Turkish were injured this time around - an accidental shelling the other day that incited the past days' tension killed five innocent Turkish civilians, including a woman and her three children. Given the circumstances, it is highly understandable that the Turkish government is livid, that the two neighboring states are seeming increasingly bellicose towards one another, and that the U.N. is
issuing new calls to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to step down from his position.

What may be less apparent (although also understandable), given the incessant media coverage of the election this week, is that the United States is violently defecating in their figurative pantaloons. And if they aren't, they certainly should be: the Syrian uprising was a disaster several months ago, when the death toll of innocent civilians reached 20,000; now, the crisis is pouring over borders and sparking instability in countries such as Turkey, which is widely seen as the bastion of secular Islamic democracy and a role model for the Middle East as a whole. With the conflict in Syria creeping this close to the Turkish border, Turkey has been spending valuable time and resources on protecting themselves from what seems at this point to be an imminent, more serious attack. The resources spent on this have been taken from other facets of society, and the Turkish government is not the only one to notice: the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers' Party, an opposition party responsible for frequent violent attacks on the Turkish government, have begun taking advantage of the reduced military presence within the country itself. Violence is widespread and if Turkey cannot quell the rising PKK militia, the results for the country could be catastrophic.

The fragile state of the Middle East at the present moment is that of a row of dominos. This is no new concept, but one often worth reiterating, especially at a time like this. Instigating with Turkey will likely not end with Turkey - Syria, if it continues on the path it is headed, will soon be the catalyst for a regional conflict involving many of the states so volatile to begin with that the United States simply cannot do enough to keep them stable and peaceful. We are not just looking at a tragic revolution anymore, we are looking at what has the potential to be a frighteningly colossal multi-state conflict. President Obama certainly has a lot on his plate at the moment, given that the presidential election is a mere month away. However, he should be pressing the U.N. for a multilateral military intervention in the region before it is too late. I have been saying for months that such an intervention was needed in Syria, primarily because of the amount of casualties the country is suffering. From a humanitarian standpoint, my argument was admirable, but perhaps not enough to rouse support from those more realist than myself. This is no longer a plea on behalf of the innocent civilians dying daily in Syria. The situation is dire, the potential consequences profound, and the necessity of a resolution is immediate. Without one, we may be facing one of the worst wars of our generation, and likely since World War II ended almost eight decades ago.

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