Conflict & Justice

Rami Khouri: 'No Easy Answers in Syria, and No Happy Outcomes'

The possibility of an American military strike in Syria is setting off strong reactions across the Arab world.

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Anchor Marco Werman discusses the mood in the region with Rami Khouri, director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, at the American University of Beirut.

Khouri just published the essay: "The Agony of the Smashing of Syria." Excerpt below. But go read it in full.

We continue to witness the ripples of the Anglo-American-led war on Iraq a decade ago, especially in the form of a fractured and polarized Iraqi state, and organized Salafist militancy and terrorism (with Al-Qaeda links) that plague Iraq and other countries in the region, especially Syria and Lebanon. An American-led military strike against Syria would probably generate equally problematic consequences, including counter-attacks by Syrians and various parties against targets from those countries that would join the assault on Syria.

It is also not clear that a few isolated, pinpoint punitive missile attacks against a handful of targets in Syria would have the intended effect of making the Assad regime change its tactics in attacking its own people in order to remain in power. Previous experiences around the region indicate that such punitive or deterrent strikes do not force any significant change in behavior by the target government. Only actions like a ground invasion or imposing a no-fly zone achieve that aim, and there is no serious talk of those kinds of moves yet.

Foreign attacks against Assad without a firm UN Security Council mandate would likely make the Syrian regime more defiant and reckless…