The Economist calls on America to establish a no-fly zone over Syria, arm the rebels, and recognize a transitional government composed of Assad opponents:
As the world’s superpower, America is likely to be sucked into Syria eventually. Even if the president can resist humanitarian arguments, he will find it hard to ignore his country’s interests. If the fight drags on, Syria will degenerate into a patchwork of warring fiefs. Almost everything America wants to achieve in the Middle East will become harder. Containing terrorism, ensuring the supply of energy and preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction: unlike, say, the 15-year civil war in Lebanon, Syria’s disintegration threatens them all.
Marc Lynch recently held a roundtable on whether or not to arm Syria’s rebels. Here’s Mona Yacoubian, who is against the idea:
Arming the Syrian opposition remains a bad idea. If anything, Syria’s chaotic evolution toward sectarian civil war vindicates the Obama administration’s caution on the question. The potential is great for unintended consequences: Arms may fall into the wrong hands, and the United States could get sucked into a long, nasty proxy war that foments spillover across the region. Lessons not only from Afghanistan, but also Libya (from Benghazi to Mali), highlight the deadly pitfalls of funneling arms into conflict. That such an inherently volatile and complicated process can be successfully “managed” requires a significant leap of faith.
Greg Scoblete lists other reasons not to arm the opposition. Among them:
Even though President Obama has been reluctant to throw the full weight of the U.S. behind the effort to unseat the Assad regime, Washington’s involvement in the civil war has crept steadily forward — egged on by a cohort of analysts and politicians whose advice on the Iraq war proved disastrous for the United States. As the U.S. takes additional steps to involve itself in Syria’s civil war, the logic and momentum of even deeper intervention will take hold.
(Photo: A Syrian man reacts while standing on the rubble of his house while others look for survivors and bodies in the Tariq al-Bab district of the northern city of Aleppo on February 23, 2013. Three surface-to-surface missiles fired by Syrian regime forces in Aleppo’s Tariq al-Bab district have left 58 people dead, among them 36 children, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on February 24. By Pablo Tosco/AFP/Getty Images)