That ominous opinion comes from the White House, which in recent days has seen the violence in Syria escalate amid several other troubling developments.
Syria owns a cache of chemical weapons, a disconcerting fact given the brazenness and brutality of the military led by President Bashar al-Assad. This week, the Syrian government assured the West that it would not use those chemical weapons against its own people — a real fear of international observers who’ve wondered if Assad would gas his own people as Saddam Hussein did in Iraq years ago.
In doing so, however, Syrian spokesman Jihad Makdissi issued a veiled warning to the West by saying the weapons “are secured and directly monitored by the Syrian Armed Forces and would only be used in the case of external aggression on the country.”
That warning wasn’t missed by the United States and its allies.
Meanwhile, Russia’s role in this deepening, bloody conflict has only intensified. The Russians, along with China, have blocked United Nations sanctions against Syria three times. The Vladimir Putin-led Kremlin remains Syria’s global protector, keeping the world at bay as Assad’s military kills civilians on a daily basis. (Activists say the death toll is now well above 14,000.) Unlike the U.N., Putin prefers a solution to involve direct talks between Assad and opposition forces — negotiations that seem highly unlikely given the constant bloodshed. Yet ...
“Assad can’t afford not to listen to Russian signals,” Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor of Russia in Global Affairs magazine, told the Associated Press. “He understands quite well that if he angers Russia, it will step back, leaving him to his doom.
“Russia certainly can’t force Assad to step down. What Russia can do is to tell him what are the limits he can’t cross, and it has been doing that. It may tell him that if he uses chemical weapons that would mean his end.”
The United States and its allies are not inclined to use their military to tamp down the killings — which irks intervention proponents such as U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Today, U.S. involvement includes humanitarian aid and non-military equipment to the rebels, though each day of increased violence brings more talks about Washington assisting with “safe zones” for the Syrian opposition.
The death tolls are shocking, but the White House is right to keep U.S. troops out of Syria. It is not our fight.
Instead, the White House and its allies should continue their diplomatic course and force Assad to leave. The bloodshed on Syria’s streets must end.