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Syria: "war of the red lines"…

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Baku, 9 September 2013 – Newtimes.az

President Obama tossed the ball to Congress and thus, slightly lessened responsibility and pressure. This does not rule out, however that the U.S. will not carry out a limited strike against Syria, because America’s policies and a drawn red line "in part” compels it to act. Therefore, without even slight punitive measures against Syria, U.S. "deterrence”, "resolve” and "clout” would be questioned. From the U.S. perspective, it denotes undermining of hegemonic power status. White House indicated that failure to act would embolden the likes of North Korea, Iran and Hezbollah. Thus, Syria case has to serve the purpose of delivering a message.

Obama’s Congress offensive denotes "shouldering the burden”, because domestic obligations are there and every mistake brings the Republicans ever closer to the White House. There is another aspect that is worth considering. Unlike previous years, Obama no longer resists (fails to withstand) the pressure. Let us examine consequences of a decision that certain reasons and processes may induce him to take.

"English move” towards Obama…

Apparently, Britain’s decision that precluded the involvement in a military operation against Syria affected Obama’s position. Presumably, just like UK’s hesitation impacted America’s political stance on this issue internationally, situation may also deteriorate at home. That decision already evoked big questions about the "legitimacy” of a possible strike and therefore, Obama wishes not to assume the risk singlehandedly.

Following aspects obviously impacted UK’s choice:

  1. Need to be reserved in light of the "chemical lies” suggested to the public in the Iraq war;  
  2. Failure to secure broad agreement on the "New Syria” process, with "Israel factor” on the backdrop;
  3. Gradually differing scale of crisis in Syria compared to Libya;
  4. Support rendered to Assad;
  5. "Deterrence” stemming from that support and a looming quagmire.

Thus, some new red lines are emerging that provoke hesitations with significant portion of the Western world, including Britain, with regard to even a limited strike. Military action is feared to have no dramatic effect on the situation, leading to "deepening” and "expansion” of resistance instead.

Russia’s red line…

Russia pursues a policy of manageable crisis. It emerges at the forefront of developments and efficiently employs available tools to display a resolute position in the UN Security Council, and rendering assistance to Syria and its benefactors. Although, at a glance Syria may appear as Russia’s red line, it is not necessarily an accurate estimate. Principal red line here is Iran - issue viewed as a vital national interest for Russia, and support of Iran through Syria. Russia considers an attack against Iran as a start of a world war - a notable statement that followed Iran’s announcement that Syria was its red line. This aspect underscores the danger of a chain reaction war, a delicate red line taken into account by the West.

China: "disguised red lines”…

Beijing’s classic crisis scenario is evident here. Avoiding a spotlight, China wages behind-the-curtain warfare with the U.S. Iran is a priority issue for China, but yet it views the U.S. as a bundle of problems as it realizes that "Celestial” is the ultimate target. That explains its policy of not the lines but of boundaries with respect to the U.S. which among others implies support rendered to Syria and the "Resistance Front”.

Iran: "central country” in war of red lines

Iran is known to be a primary target in the "New Middle East” process. Syria amounts to the issue of national interest for Iran, as losing Syria means the loss of Lebanon and Iraq, along with Hezbollah and other groups. With such losses sustained, military operations against Iran would be significantly alleviated. Therefore, Tehran views any military operation against Iran as a declaration of war. In this context, notable was Iran’s statement of resolve bound for Moscow and Beijing regarding mobilization of all capabilities in light of U.S.’s announcement of a possible military operation. It denotes that war in Syria may engulf the region, yet with a potential to escalate into a global one.

Indeed, "resolve”, "consistency”, "deterrence” and "integrity” displayed by the "Resistance Front” in comparison with the Western world are striking. This is the thought-provoking aspect for Obama and others because due to those red lines Syria is on the verge of a real war…

Dr. Mehmet Seyfettin Erol

Associate Professor

Head of Center for International Strategy and Security Studies

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