Is the Syria crisis on the path to military intervention?

(STRAT RISKS)   If those who state that there is a Syrian scenario developed by the US and their Middle East allies are right, then the developments in Syria contradict the plan. The regime of Bashar Assad appears to be hard to kill: it didn’t collapse as easy as those in president of Tunisia and Egypt. The Syrian opposition can’t turn the civil war in its favor as in Libya. The opposition admits that they were pushed out from Damascus. According to received reports, the rebels seem to fail “the historic battle” for Aleppo as well. In this context, leaders of anti-Assad forces speak about necessity of a no-fly zone over Syria. The opposition interest is understandable. Such a no-fly zone will at least neutralize Syrian Air Forces devoted to Assad, that would make implementation of military tasks easier for Free Syrian Army. It seems FSA’s urging was heard by Washington.

The US and Turkey are studying possibility of a no-fly zone over Syria, the State Secretary of the US Hilary Clinton stated at the negotiations with the Foreign Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutaglu, Reuters reports.

Moreover, Washington and Ankara will establish a special committee for coordination of intelligence services to improve effectiveness of help to the Syrian opposition. “Our intelligence services, our military have very important responsibilities and roles to play so we are going to be setting up a working group to do exactly that,” Clinton said. Asked about options such as imposing a no-fly zone over rebel-held territory, Clinton said these were possibilities she and Davutoglu had agreed “need greater in-depth analysis.”

“It is one thing to talk about all kinds of potential actions, but you cannot make reasoned decisions without doing intense analysis and operational planning,” she said. The same question was addressed to Davutoglu who answered that the main task of the international society in Syria is prevention of humanitarian crisis, including Aleppo where fights between the governmental troops and the opposition have been lasting for several days.

Establishing of a no-fly zone in Western interpretation stays in memory of the international society due to the Libyan military campaign. Libyan rebels managed to win the war against Gaddafi’s army only due to NATO aviation support. On the ground of providing implementation of the no-fly zone over Libya the Western countries in fact provided a military operation on overthrowing of the regime. At the same time, Gaddafi really used aviation and artillery against peaceful population.

The position of Russia and China prevent establishing of a no-fly zone over Syria, as their veto cannot be ignored. In other words, the Libyan scenario fails in Syria – at least through the UN SC sanctions. However, the position of Moscow and Beijing is not the only factor holding the West and its allies from the military intervention to Syria. NATO bombed Yugoslavia and Iraq without UN sanctions, and the international society accepted it.

The more important aspect is that intervention of Syria will hardly be easy. According to experts, implementation of the no-fly zone plan will be difficult because of powerful Air Defense Forces. NATO is not ready to fight in Syria because of the system of Air Defense, the deputy director of the Political and Military Analysis Institute Alexander Khramchikhin said at the press conference in RIA Novosti.

“European Air Forces have decreased to insignificant amounts, and the Libyan operation confirmed it,” Khromchikhin reminded.

“Europe could provide only 100 aircraft for this operation, and they had a tough time. We saw how Denmark’s Air Forces exhausted all their munitions in three months, even though they sent only six aircraft for the Libyan operation.”

It appears the European members of NATO are not ready for the military campaign against Damascus. It means the possible intervention to Syria wouldn’t take place without direct participation of Turkey and the US. And anti-war attitudes in both of these countries cannot be ignored.

The Turkish population treats such prospect negatively. 72% of interviewed people believe that a military campaign in Syria will fulfill interests of Western forces. The poll was conducted by the Center of Strategic Research BILGESAM.

At the same time Ankara faced unprecedented growth of terrorist attacks by LPK in the regions neighboring Syria, and the Turkish authorities accuse Bashar Assad of support of militants. But it is a big question whether Ankara will take more severe and wide-scale measures. Turkey will hardly undertake military intervention to Syria without direct participation of the US.

However, even Washington hesitates on the complete decision. Obama’s administration is not eager to be involved into a military adventure during the election campaign. Some experts warn: Syria will involve the whole Middle East into the regional war. The West cannot ignore these risks.

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