Alwaght– Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, many Western analysts and experts came up with the idea that the domestic unrest in the country by itself could not topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Such a conclusion pushed them to demand an international intervention, led by the US, to end the crisis. But such intervention by no means was easy to conduct. During the past six years, a series of scenarios were put on the agenda to prepare the ground for military action against Damascus– including Libyanization of the conflict. But to date like the past years, no force-based measures were applied in practice against the Syrian government.
Here a question comes to mind: Why could not the West and its regional allies materialize their plans for military action against Syria? Or differently, what hurdles did exist ahead of a foreign military intervention in Syria?
Libyanization of the Syrian crisis or use of a Libya-style military intervention in Syria was almost the leading solution to end the devastating war in Syria put forward since the beginning by some of Western and Arab sides. The plan was, in fact, a combination of two mutually complementary scenarios, raised by the Arab states and some of Western leaders. The first phase was based on efforts for establishment of a no-fly zone in part of Syria’s territory. The plan was endorsed by figures such as French President François Hollande, as well as the foreign ministers of Italy, and Belgium– not to mention some of Arab leaders. The aim behind it was to cut out a part of the Syrian territory as a secure zone inside the war-torn country to facilitate training anti-Damascus militants and provide safe haven for anti-Assad opposition. But this was not the end as the designers foresaw upgrading of the scenario to pave the way for a direct military assault against Syria, as some Arab and Western officials began talking about possible use of force against Damascus. But the option was later removed from the table by Hillary Clinton, the then US Secretary of State, because of what she described as lack of an international consensus like that was reached on Libya for the measure.
One of the most important faults associated with the plan in Syria since from the very begining was that the Syrian opposition forces’ range was not wide enough to justify the international sides to easily argue that President Assad had lost its legitimacy in the country.
But aside from the Syrian leader’s legitimacy, other drives that removed the plan to Libyanize Syria’s conflict from the table of options of anti-Damascus league of countries are as follows:
1. The West was afraid of consequences of military campaign against Syria: Unlike Libya, where Muammar Gaddafi in 1995 dissolved the regular army and organized units of militant groups to replace it, Syria was enjoying a powerful and unified army, which to date despite heavy pressures on it, declined to show considerable signs of partition.
2. The geographical and demographic differences between Libya and Syria: On the one hand Syria has bigger population with wider intensity than Libya. On the other hand, unlike Libya which was easy to control due to vast dessert lands and its geographical position, it was difficult to control Syria because of its geographical conditions.
3. Problems with assault-hosting spots: Libya is a littoral state lying on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, a position making the Western sides face no challenges ahead of finding positions to host their bombing campaign. The small range of residential areas of Libya, which are majorly located in north, helped the West to arrange and conduct its air campaign from the northern coasts of the Mediterranean. But the case was different with Syria as the west faced a major problem of finding campaign-hosting positions. In fact, the countries that sought anti-Syrian airstrikes had to do their job from the neighboring countries. Even if, supposedly, Turkey and Jordan opened their air space for the military offensive, opposition by Iraq and Lebanon would have handicapped the action.
4. Another reason that could impede any Western military intervention in Syria was the fact that any further chaos in Syria would inflame sectarian conflicts in many of the regional countries, including Lebanon whom the West does its best to keep calm. Actually, initial sparks of such conflicts can currently be seen in some cities of Syria.
5. And most importantly, the decision to launch a military offensive against Libya was a product of an international consensus. But due to lack of such an accord, the plan has been inapplicable to Syria.
Neither the Axis of Resistance, led by Iran, nor Russia which share strategic interests in Syria, or even China with its economic interests in the troubled country, gave in to any anti-Syrian assault.
6. And finally, the Syrian popular resistance, along with support from powerful allies like Iran, and Russia was another deterrent to west’s direct military intervention in syria: Any foreign intervention could drag the clashes out of Syria, to regional and even international levels. Some analysts described the foreign use of force against Syria as providing a spark that could usher in a third world war.
Perhaps it was for these reasons and other similar reasons that voices that demanded Libyanization of the Syrian crisis were gradually pushed to the sidelines, and with the Syrian army adding to range of its successes and the terrorists leaving the country, such voices gave place to those calling for political settlement of the crisis.