Meddling in Syria: Bad When Iran Does It, Honorable When We Do It

John Glaser, May 17, 2012

Headlines are awash today with the breaking news that Iran is continuing to send arms to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, despite UN sanctions prohibiting such transfers.

Forget the usual counter-narrative double standard about how the U.S. supports its own brutal dictators and yet we never hear about that in the mainstream media. No, I do that enough. There is a much more direct contradiction here.

The Obama administration is also sending arms into Syria, only they are being sent to an unorganized, unreliable, unaccountable group of rebel fighters, at least some of whom have ties to “al-Qaeda.” The UN Security Council has not specifically sanctioned such activity as they have arms sales to the Syrian regime, but a resolution was vetoed in February that would have allowed such aid to the rebels and the UN envoy to Syria Kofi Annan explicitly warned against Western intervention on behalf of the rebels because, he said, it would make the conflict much worse.

I’ve been arguing for months that all of the meddling in Syria – the U.S., Britain, France, the Gulf states, Russia, Iran – is one of the central forces prolonging the conflict.

The Iranians sending arms to the Syrian regime is rightly pointed out as a reckless policy which is probably helping to worsen the humanitarian suffering in the country. But the U.S. is being equally reckless. Numerous experts have spoken out against aiding the rebels. Ed Husain, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations has argued such aid could get into the hands of extremists. George Washington University professor and Middle East expert Marc Lynch has argued that “arming the Syrian opposition, would likely spread the violence and increase the numbers of Syrian dead without increasing the likelihood of regime collapse.” Also, as we saw in Libya, “fighting groups will rise in political power, while those who have advocated nonviolence or who advance political strategies will be marginalized.” The potential for this aid to the opposition - direct, indirect, lethal, and non-lethal – to  escalate the violence and exacerbate the suffering is very, very high. Yet the headlines say Iran is “flouting” international norms in a madcap scheme to militarize the conflict.

The fact that the Obama administration refused to come out and announce that we would be sending arms, directly or indirectly, to Syrian rebels speaks for itself. If this were a constructive policy, why would the administration have kept it so quiet and why would they be doing it through various unsavory Sunni dictatorships in the Persian Gulf who have themselves employed systematic repression to quell pro-reform protests?




12 Responses to “Meddling in Syria: Bad When Iran Does It, Honorable When We Do It”

  1. What solution do you offer for peaceful civilian protests being shot at with live amunition "light & heavy"?
    What alternative do you offer to a conscript refusing to shoot at civilians, who risks being killed on the spot or to run away? And If he runs away his family becomes in danger of being shot at themselves? So far such conscripts find no alternative but to run away with their light weapon to small add hoc congregation of fellow deserters – such nearby villiges and neighbourhoods risk power cut-offs water cut-offs and bombardments, phones internet cut-offs, villigers unable to sell their crops? Pro-government demonstrations are dragged from their jobs or from "favored sect" conglomerates nearby – I HAD BEEN READING YOUR OPPINIONS AT "ANTIWAR" SINCE THE START OF THE TURMOIL – I found nothing constructive so far..! Could you please think differently for a change!

  2. [...] Meanwhile, Iran and Russia continue to send money and arms to the Assad regime, creating a proxy war that is prolonged by outside intervention. [...]

  3. Welcome to the jungle!

    Might makes right.

  4. [...] Meanwhile, Iran and Russia continue to send money and arms to the Assad regime,creating a proxy war that is prolonged by outside intervention. [...]

  5. [...] aiding the rebels and if Russia and Iran weren’t still backing the Assad regime. All of the international meddling has probably prolonged the conflict and left space for al-Qaeda-like groups to [...]

  6. All aid given to any rebels that oppose a legitimate Govt anywhere in the world be it Asia ,Africa, Latin America or Europe, violate the UN resolutions on aiding terrorists. The arms and aid given to such terrorists in Libya,Iran,Syria,Kashmir,Central Asian countries,African countries and others is fueling terrorism that will continue for decades to come. The Arms lobby in the US and other countries exporting Arms will ensue that Terrorism dos not die down till a bigger conflict attracts their export potential and thus fuel their economies that are desperate for arms sales. Conflicts will be engineered,planned and kept alive so that arms can sell

  7. [...] Annan plan is hanging on by a thread (and is being hindered by foreign intervention on all sides). So far, there little evidence the Obama administration plans to move from providing lethal and [...]

  8. [...] to support the Assad regime while the U.S. and its allies in Europe and the Gulf Arab states are funneling aid and arms to the rebel militias. All sides have blood on their hands and all appear to be emboldened by their foreign [...]

  9. [...] weapons, and is desperately short of even light infantry arms and worse, ammunition. Meanwhile Russia and Iran continue to restock the government’s armories. How could such an imbalance exist given the strong [...]

  10. [...] the end of the NATO Summit, President Obama made an agreement to send anti-tank missile weapons to “rebels” in Syria. Not only has the U.S. government conducted forceful attempts to overthrow Assad, but [...]

  11. [...] the end of the NATO Summit, President Obama made an agreement to send anti-tank missile weapons to “rebels” in Syria. Not only has the U.S. government conducted forceful attempts to overthrow Assad, but [...]

  12. [...] the end of the NATO Summit, President Obama made an agreement to send anti-tank missile weapons to “rebels” in Syria. Not only has the U.S. government conducted forceful attempts to overthrow Assad, but [...]