The situation in Syria continues to get ever more complicated. Today, an attempt to kill the current Prime Minister failed– when a large bomb did not kill him as has he was passing through Damascus. The current Syrian Prime Minister is the fourth since the Civil War broke out. The bombing, however, underscores the fact that while Damascus remains under Assad’s rule, the opposition has no problem smuggling bombs into the very heart of the city.
Meanwhile, in Lebanon, Hezbollah has tacitly admitted that the number of its fighters killed has exceeded 200. Hezbollah has been actively fighting on the side of the Assad regime and against the rebels. Recently, a Sunni religious leader in Lebanon issued a Fatwa calling on all young Sunnis to go to Syria and fight the Assad regime. In what I think is a related matter, sectarian violence seems to be rapidly increasing. There is fear of a renewed Civil War. That concern is no doubt, to some extent, a product of the Civil War in Syria, which has turned into a sectarian fight. Thus, if the war in Syria continues much longer it may undermine whatever achievements the US obtained in its costly war in Iraq.
Meanwhile in Washington, the debate continues on what should be done with the fact that by all accounts the Syrian government has violated the clear red line that President Obama stated would be crossed with the use of Chemical weapons. President Obama, while admitting that it seems the Syrians have in fact used said weapons, has prevaricated as to whether that indeed means they have crossed the Red Line. I do not believe the US has any choice but to take action. If a red line– such as this– can be crossed with impunity, then all of America’s deterrent capability will be fatally undermined. I keep on hearing that America imposing a no fly zone would be costly and difficult; I have been at a loss to understand why. Israel was able to win a totally one sided victory against the Syrian Airforce in 1981. Today, 30 year later, the gap between the Syrian Air Force (which still flies Soviet aircraft from that era) is no match for the US air capabilities, which are newer, and maintain a considerably larger fleet. Any actions will more likely have the same one-sided outcome as the US intervention in the Balkans.