Monday, April 10, 2017

Syria: The Middle East's Tire Yard Fire

Ever seen a tire fire?

They are a lingering yet cancerous domestic disaster. The rubber lasts for ages, keeping the fire alive far longer than any other substance. Tire fires threaten the quality of life—and life itself. The smoke from a pile of blazing tires can last for months. The haze pollutes the air, damages commerce, and endangers surrounding communities.

And lots of water won’t put them out right away.

In Southern California, we get heat and smoke advisories because of periodic inland fires.  At least this year, Governor Brown declared that emergency drought conditions are ending. There’s so much water in California now, even Los Angeles County does not register with drought conditions.
But tire yards set on fire are a fire-fighter’s nightmare, and sadly the are the first and sadly most accurate image that comes to mind when I think of the Syrian Civil war. For two years, this international conflagration has dominating the news and bloodshed in the Middle East (aside from ISIS).

For two years converging Islamic, Christian, and secular forces have been digging, shooting, fighting, throwing whatever they have at the other side. Oops. Major correction. This is not a civil war, as much as civil wars, and there are many sides to this multifaceted, complex conflict. And none of them are good guys to work with.

Bashar al-Assad, ophthalmologist-turned brutal dictator of Syria, is part of the Alawite tribe, which belongs to the predominantly minority Shi’ite sect of Islam. Iraq is a Shi’ite country, even though the former dictator Saddam Hussein was a  Sunni. Al-Qaeda belongs to the Sunni branch of Islam, too, and so does Saudi Arabia and the vast majority of Muslim countries around the world.

But remember that Al-Qaeda hates Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia is afraid of Iran. Iran, once under a more moderate dictatorship, is now run by radical ayatollahs building a nuclear weapon, and they waged an eight-year with Iraq during nearly the entire Reagan Administration. Then George W. Bush invaded Iraq, which established a somewhat stable democracy. That’s all but over since ISIS has overrun the region of Northern Iraq as well as Eastern Syria.

Then there are the Kurds, who are the most well-educated of the differing ethnic groups in the region. They loved President Bush. They want to establish their own country, but Turkey, once thought to be the most moderate and modern Islamic countries, won’t have it. Oh, and Turkey had its own military coup, with President Erdogan turning himself into a deity of the people, who are now dying to get out, too, while taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East … who in turn are invading Europe and waging jihad of the heart, mouth, and the hand, i.e. sword, gun, and even truck.

Which brings us back to Syria, the inferno of civil wars, with no good guys all fighting each other, and using weapons delivered by American troops in a conflict which has raged for two years. Oh, and let’s not forget the Christians, Jews, and Yazidis, another minority, a thankfully non-violent sect. The Christian groups in the region are a real head-scratcher. Some ethnic Christians actually ally with the Lebanon terrorist group Hezbollah! Some Christians in Syria love Israel, but hate the Israeli Prime minister. Other Christian groups hate Israel entirely. All Christians are victims of genocide at the hands of ISIS. And the Christians were safer under the cruel Assad regime, while Assad himself attacks his own people.

There are no Jews in Syria, of course, but one of the few books still for sale in any Damascus bookstore (if they are still open) is the Czarist anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Oh, and ISIS is cutting off the heads of gays, Christians, or anyone else who does not submit to Sharia law.

The Syrian conflict is an international tire fire. No amount of “water” will put this fire out. Humanitarian aid? To whom? Send troops? Hell no! No one should allow our American blood into the guerrilla-style firing fray endemic to the region.

But does the United States just sit and shout “Burn, baby, burn”? If only Barack Obama had done that. Instead, he launched out into uncharted terror-tory, I mean territory—aside from everything and everyone on fire—and announced a red line” if Syria used chemical weapons against their own people.

Bashar al-Assad gassed his people, violated international law (as if we should care), and Obama did nothing.

Obama’s inaction followed an apology tour throughout the Middle East four years prior. Internal rebellions toppled stable yet corrupt and oppressive regimes through the Middle East and North Africa, and Islamic terrorist satellites swung into orbit around the upcoming ISIS death star.
Now comes the Trump Administration. The President decided to bomb the airfield where Assad released nerve gas, killing innocent civilians: red line crossed again. Instead of “hope and change” mantras, Trump launched 59 missiles.

Trump accomplished the following without killing anyone:

1. Demonstrated that the United States is not leading from behind.
2. Showed strength to shake up Islamic terrorists in the region.
3. Put Iran, Syria, Russia, and North Korea on notice that he is a man of his word, and of action.
4. Blew up the lie that he is a puppet of Russia.
5. Demonstrated soft power to curb the spread of the international fire in the Middle East from affecting the United States in the near future.

Am I worried about an escalation of American intervention?

The United States should refrain from this bloody Rubik’s-cube quagmire. But just like the inferno of a near-by tire factor, the residual damage of this military maelstrom is threatening us. In one tire fire, combatants squirted an extra blast of gasoline right in the middle of the blaze. The fire raged hotter, then burned out the rubber, killing the entire blaze. Perhaps Trump’s brief show of strength will have the same effect on the Syrian civil wars. 

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