As Deaths and Ultimatums Multiply
Is Syria on Verge of Civil War?
And Will the West Intervene?
by Dan Ehrlich

Ultimatums from the Arab League, Turkey, the EU and US have yet to stop the bloodshed in Syria which is nearing 4,000 dead and heading for a civil war. This isn't what the Arab Spring was supposed to bring. But it does illustrate a need for continued Big Power involvement in this powder keg region. And events may mean just that as pressure builds for outside intervention.

For quite some time western leaders have maintained an end to the Israel-Palestine issue is the key to Middle East peace. However, the so-called Arab Spring has destroyed that idea. Indeed, the only connection Israel may have had with the upheavals sweeping the Arab world is through TV and the Internet, where the multitudes could see the affluent lifestyle along Tel Aviv's beaches.

For people, such as the Syrians, kept under theocratic dictatorships since 1918, and repressive Ottoman rule since the 15th Century, the idea of a better, freer life is what has fueled the uprisings. Yet, there will always be tension and danger with the prospect of chaos in a feudal world interacting with wealthy and free western nations...nations dependent on that world's black gold.

Several surveys of living standards reveal Arab nations woefully behind all developed nations and even below most Latin American nations. The United Nation's Human Development Survey shows Norway Number 1, the USA 4, Israel 17, the UK is back at 27 and the closest Arab country, the UAE at 32. Syria is way down at 118. Libya, which is also in utter chaos, was rated 64,  Tunisia is 94, Jordan 95 and Turkey, a non Arabic Muslim nation that wants to join the European Union is 83. Way down the list is Egypt at 113 and Yemen at 154.

The Arab world is similar to the USA in one key geopolitical area. It needs an enemy or scapegoat for its shortcomings and the excesses of its potentates. For decades America had Communism as an all-purpose enemy. With that gone, and the fact we are an economic hostage to the world's biggest nation, one that's Communist, we had to find another adversary...terrorism... a never-ending war of terror. Yet America's economic and employment problems are causing our masses to rethink foreign wars and foreign aid.

But, for the Arabs that enemy has been Israel...the simple fact is, if Israel never existed it would have to be invented to keep the Arab masses in line. They and the West would most probably face the same problems. The West would still be fighting to control Middle East oil until it runs out and the Arabs would be blaming each other and the West for their problems.

Given the NATO action in Libya and Iraq, it seems the only way the bring stability to the Arab World is to force the issue with an overpowering dose of neo colonialism, i.e., Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

NATO became involved in Libya on the grounds that Gadaffi was killing civilians. With this reasoning Syria, whose leader is killing thousands of his own people, is ripe for western intervention. And the West has to stop being timid and do what it has to do to maintain respect for its preeminence and support for civilized government.

The alternative is to accept an unknown outcome of various uprisings, with a worse case scenario being Islamic extremist governments. Indeed the only stable country in the region is Israel, and even it has to contend with the prospect of more violence from the Palestinians, who find it easier to take on the Israelis than their own corrupt leadership.

Yet, the Israel-Palestine issue has been relegated to a sideshow. Israel could recognize a Palestinian state tomorrow and it would have no effect on the so-called Arab Spring. The uprisings would continue and governments would remain or fall.

Little by little the Arab masses, while still hating Israel out of conditioning, are realizing an end to their repressive governments and not an end to Israel will help them obtain better lives.

But it seems realistic to conclude that for some time to come this region will be unsettled, chaotic and begging for some benevolent yet strong leadership. The main problem with the Arab world has been a nationalism based on a mass of uneducated people held in check by authoritarian, often repressive regimes, using religion as a tool of state control.

And part of this control has been maintaining feudal tribal fiefdoms where outsiders are often rejected on religious grounds and in the case of Israel, massive propaganda orchestrated by the state aimed at scapegoating that country for all the world's problems. Sound familiar?

The key to neo imperialism is to benevolently bring these people into the modern world through order, civility, living standards and proper contemporary education. This doesn't have to be nation building.

It's more like time travel. The nations of the Arab world are close enough in proximity to the West to have graduated away from ancient tribal lifestyles. But, for the most part they haven't and this modern day medievalism is the main difference that separates them from being modern progressive societies.

Some UN officials hoped back in 1948 that the creation of Israel would establish a climate of cooperation where the technically proficient Israelis could teach the Arabs how to make the desert bloom. For the most part this hasn't happened.

Since the West's prime interest in the Middle East isn't date and fig exporting, the only way to secure oil exports for the long term is by the West doing it until proper democratic governments can take root.

So far Tunisia, Morocco Libya, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen are in varying states of revolution or civil war. There have also been rumblings from Jordan and Lebanon.

This instability and upheaval could eventually impact oil production and the real possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran will only make things worse.

The Arabs, long the witnesses and victims of big power conflict know how to play one side against the other. They did it during the Cold War and sensing the West is in decline are warming a bit towards Iran, who some may feel will be a new power broker in the region.

In the long run this will prove a mistaken assumption. The forces of international capitalism will not be held in check by Iran. We acted quickly during Operation Desert storm when Iraq occupied Kuwait and the West will act again, if need be.

Part of the neo imperial doctrine would be to make the Middle East a nuclear free zone. This would eventually include Israel. Besides, once peace and tranquility encompasses the region, there will be no need for atomic weapons.

The key for the West would not to be perceived as an occupation power, but one of helping hands...the way Somalia was supposed to be...but ended so disastrously.

A fact of life is people is desperation will accept whatever help is given. This holds true even in a normally rejectionist Arab world. Libya is an example, as was Kuwait. A major test will be what happens after the US leaves Iraq. With one of the world's largest oil reserves, the West won't be happy to see Iran making a move of any sort of influence.

The importance of bringing stability to this region goes beyond Arab countries...Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan form a continuous belt of non Arabic Muslim nations linked to Europe yet influenced by what happens in Arab nations.

If the West allows chaos to continue and radical regimes to form, it could eventually face an expanded terror war and a growing disenchantment with the West.

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