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NİHAT ALİ ÖZCAN > Is the post-al-Assad era important?

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The conflicts in Syria are turning out to be a civil war. The number of questions that politicians are supposed to answer is increasing. In this regard, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu indicated a significant point, “We have to focus on the post-al-Assad era.” He is right in his explanation: Unless politicians compromise on the desired post-al-Assad period, it is impossible to manage developments in Syria.

At this point, for imagining the architecture of the post-al-Assad era and for deciding a strategy, we have to answer these questions: “Do you want a military intervention or not?” If this question is answered with a no, developments in Syria would continue with its internal dynamics for an unpredictable period. If this question is answered with a yes, you have to answer more questions.

The fundamental questions are “What is your political aim? What kind of military intervention do you need? ” In other words, “What do you comprehend about the post-al-Assad era?” We know that having a vogue answer such as “building democracy” does not mean anything.

At the end of the day, what are the political features of a new Syria that is saved from ethnic wars/sectarian conflicts that will be stable in medium term? A clear “political target” can eliminate uncertainties such as determining the sides of the intervention, strategies, organization and structure of command chain.

Instead of a clear answer, vogue explanations and lack of planning would cause problems in the future. Such that in the medium term, not only in Syria but also the ones that intervene in Syria would have problems in terms of domestic politics. Moreover, problems among countries intervened in would occur as well. Good examples are Iraq and Afghanistan and also Libya, which have been faced with chaos.

An intervention for a vague political aim like “democracy building” has the potential to trigger chaos in allied countries naturally. I want to emphasize two topics. Firstly, chaos may occur between the politicians that have decided on intervention and their societies because the public’s grousing would rise when the cost of intervention and causalities increase. Politicians, who fear the reactions of the public, can change their decisions according to domestic politics instead of military necessities in order to slink off. This situation makes intervention meaningless and expensive. Secondly, politicians’ permanently changing decisions on political aims would cause failing operations and would damage the psychologies of generals. At the end, there would be high tension between generals and politicians. Israel’s Hezbollah and NATO’s Afghanistan operations are significant examples of these problems.

Political targets which are not clarified at the beginning would break down allies as time passes because each country would want to see a different Syria image for their interest.

Lastly, the absence of a clear political target would increase the violence in Syria and would make the warring parties focus on maximized targets.

A venture that does not define the post-al-Assad era clearly at the very beginning can be seen as “a new trillion dollar war.” This would mean shame for politicians, anger for generals and disappointment for the public.

June/21/2012

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