(Deutsche Welle) France, Australia and the UK are considering joining a US-led coalition flying air strikes in Syria. They cite the refugee crisis as justification for military intervention, but can bombing put an end to the conflict?
For British Prime Minister David Cameron, it’s not enough to act as a “moral humanitarian nation taking people, spending money on aid and helping in refugee camps.”
“Assad has to go, ISIL has to go. Some of that will require not just spending money, not just aid, not just diplomacy but it will on occasion require hard military force,” Cameron said, using an alternative acronym for “Islamic State.”
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has already announced plans for his country to join the US-led air campaign in Syria and he has not even ruled out the possibility of sending ground troops. France is already flying reconnaissance missions over Syria to gather information for potential air strike targets as President Francois Hollande announced his intention to join the US-led campaign in Syria on Monday.
‘Bombing people to save them’
But air strikes aimed at protecting civilians are rarely effective, according to Taylor Seybolt. Air strikes have a chance of success only at the start of a conflict – before the warring sides are entrenched – or at the end when they are exhausted. The strikes also have to defend a focused area for a limited amount of time, Seybolt told DW. None of these conditions are currently present in Syria.
“Bombing people to save them isn’t really a good practice,” said Seybolt, the author of “Humanitarian Military Intervention: The Conditions for Success or Failure.”
“The talk about humanitarian bombing is not focused on a particular safe area or population,” Seybolt said. “It’s just sort of a broad statement that we’re going to try to help people so that they stay were they are rather than come across to Europe.”
(By Deutsche Welle) US efforts to recruit moderate rebels are not going well. With “Islamic State” now enemy number one, the White House has tacitly forged an alliance with its old adversary: Bashar al-Assad. Spencer Kimball reports.
America’s rebel army in Syria has instructions not to attack the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
The main enemy is the “Islamic State” (IS). Not that the pro-Western militia poses a threat to either. So far, Washington has only trained 60 fighters.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter acknowledged as much this week, telling Congress that the number falls far below the Pentagon’s original expectations. The secretary’s admission triggered consternation among President Barack Obama’s opponents and damage control by his supporters.
“Our means and our current level of effort are not aligned with our ends,” Senator John McCain said during a committee hearing. “That suggests we are not winning, and when you are not winning in war, you are losing.”
Why has the US trained so few rebels? There’s a strict vetting process, which according to Carter ensures that recruits are committed to fighting IS as their first priority and will obey the laws of armed conflict.
According to Syria expert David Lesch, the Obama administration has been cautious because it fears US arms could fall into the hands of Islamist radicals: “which has happened on a consistent basis, including US aligned rebel groups’ weapons depots being overrun by Islamist groups.”
(By Deutsche Welle) Iraq has been shaken by its worst wave of violence in the last five years. The United Nations has warned that the sectarian bloodshed in Iraq and the civil war in neighboring Syria are merging into one conflict.
The outgoing UN envoy to Iraq has warned the Security Council that Syria’s civil war has spilled over into Iraq, saying that “the battlefields are merging” into one conflict, which could destabilize the broader Middle East.
“These countries are interrelated,” UN Iraq envoy Martin Kobler said. “Iraq is the fault line between the Shia and the Sunni world and everything which happens in Syria, of course, has repercussions on the political landscape in Iraq.”
According to UN figures, nearly 3,000 Iraqis have died in sectarian bloodshed in the past four months, the highest death toll since 2008. Another 7,000 have been injured. And increasingly, Iraqi jihadists and weapons are moving across the border to fight against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, UN envoy Kobler said.
“You have the Islamic State of Iraq, that’s launching most of the attacks, now operating on both sides of the border and getting stronger and stronger in Syria,” Patrick Cockburn, a veteran Iraq reporter for Britain’s The Independent, told DW.
“It has bases in eastern Syria right over to the Mediterranean, so that has made the organization much stronger – given it strength and depth,” Cockburn said. “It has access to arms depots that it’s captured in Syria.”