Global Politics

Why US Intervention in Syria Could Spell Deep Trouble

Joshua Landis, director of the Middle Eastern Studies program at the University of Oklahoma, tells host Marco Werman that more assertive US intervention in Syria is unlikely to quell the violence there.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the audio to hear it.)

"About 13,000 Syrians have been killed in the last 14 months, according to UN statistics. And in invading Iraq, a country the same size and the same population, we killed that many in one month," he says. "If this is about saving lives, we have to think about what is likely to happen if we destroy this regime."

Landis has limited expectations for a new plan former UN secretary general Kofi Annan is expected to present to the Security Council this week. The new "road map" would reportedly chart a plan for political transition that would be negotiated through a "contact group" – including Russia and Iran.

"The Americans are trying to float this idea now that the Russians will abandon [Syria], but I'm not sure they're ready to do that, which means Syria would be in for a much longer civil war," Landis says.

Landis is steeped in all things Syrian as a scholar, and because he is married to a Syrian. His wife is of the same minority group as President Bashar al-Assad. Landis says Assad's Alawite supporters are likely to remain loyal.

"There are many cousins who go on Facebook, 14 or 15 [year-olds], in Syria and they're wearing t-shirts that say: 'Assad Special Forces.' And they're carrying guns on their Facebook page and they're totally mobilized for this fight," says Landis. "That's what's scary."

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