End of the proxy war?
On March 15, 2011, the Assad regime violently suppressed a minor student protest for “democracy and freedom” in Daraa, Syria to trigger an uncontrollable civil war in the country. The conflict resulted in over 100,000 casualties, left approximately two million people injured and displaced in over two years. The bloody civil war also created fertile ground for numerous massacres: Most recently, on August 21, 2013, Assad forces used chemical weapons to attack Eastern Ghouta, a large Damascus suburb. Initial reports claimed that 1,300 civilians, including women and children, lost their lives as a result of the attack.
Syria’s Baath regime single-handedly determined almost all the rebellion’s breaking points for over two years. Ever since the beginning of the uprising, lack of interest and sensitivity marked the global attitudes toward Syria. The Baath regime relied on Russia and China to prevent global action at the United Nations Security Council, and invested in the possibility of widespread regional crisis to maintain its control over the country. This dual strategy rested on a simple roadmap: Creating such a complex and bloody mess in Syria that no other country would want to get their hands dirty. Despite a massive death toll in Syria, the regime for the most part achieved its objectives.
For months, the Baath regime remained uninterested in Turkey’s diplomatic efforts, financial aid offers, recommendations for humble democratization efforts and calls to cease armed attacks against civilian protesters. Since the uprising’s early stages, the regime opted for the worst possible scenario available at every critical junction. In early 2011, Assad lost his chance to introduce a simple democratization initiative and lead his country to free and fair elections to possibly become the country’s first democratically elected President.
The Baath regime today has but cheap propaganda at its disposal. It describes a possible international intervention as “imperialist foreign intervention.” Without doubt, such sentiments shall echo in the region. We must not forget, however, that it was Assad himself who orchestrated the first foreign intervention in the Syrian crisis by involving Iran and Russia in the country’s affairs. As his standing army fell on its knees and the Shabiha worsened an already bloody situation, Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda found a hospitable environment in Syria all thanks to the Assad regime’s careless policies. As such, Assad’s eager invitation of foreign actors into Syria represented the leading dynamic behind bloodshed and terror. The country is now faced with new foreign powers by-passing proxy wars to become directly involved in Syria.
Having silently stood by in the face of the Assad regime’s numerous atrocities over the past two years, all global actors reacted to Assad’s use of chemical weapons against the civilian population. In this sense, none but Assad himself will be responsible for a possible foreign intervention. Since this is a time for questions, here are some for Assad and, by proxy, Russia and Iran: Why have you so eagerly pushed for foreign intervention in Syria? Why did you dismiss political remedies from the onset?