Some of my friends whom I stood with in demonstrations against the 2003 Iraq invasion (which I still believe was wrong) are shocked: How could I support a military strike against the Syrian regime? Let me start by saying this: Whenever there is more than one choice, I choose the more peaceful way. I never liked war or violence. This is how the Syrian revolution started in March 2011. People chanted “freedom” in peaceful demonstration only to be shot at by the security forces.
For nearly six months, not a single bullet was fired from the demonstrators despite more than 500 of them killed and thousands wounded in that small country.
The armed resistance started gradually, first by some army soldiers laying down their weapons and deserting their units. Later, they decided to keep their weapons and defend their families. The Free Syrian Army was later formed.
It is true that in this mess and lawlessness the Assad regime caused, some extremist groups formed among the Syrian armed resistance. Unfortunately, they were given huge media coverage despite the fact they are a minority in the opposition as testified by both Secretary of State John Kerry and Sen. John McCain.
I believe the military strike is not only necessary, it is a moral and legal obligation of the free world’s leader. Yes, I prefer to get a U.N. Security Council resolution, but Russia and China have vetoed several previous resolutions that condemned the massacres committed by the Assad regime. In fact, Russia and Iran are the main weapons suppliers for the killers in Syria today. Let me give my reasons for supporting such action:
1. This is not a strike against Syria. It is rather against the Syrian regime that killed more than 150,000 civilians so far and caused nearly half of the population to be displaced as refugees.
2. Other countries, including Arab and Muslim, will participate in the strike so it will not be the “U.S. against Syria.”
3. It is a moral and legal obligation of the United States, especially after President Obama’s “red line” warning to Assad against using chemical weapons. Solid and overwhelming evidence of the use of chemical weapons already has been obtained, some of which came from the Assad regime’s own allies and former high-ranking officials. America’s credibility and integrity are on the line.
4. This strike, along with the U.S. help to the FSA and mainstream opposition, will not only weaken the regime, it will marginalize radical groups.
5. This strike will also serve as a warning to Iran, which has expanded its influence to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon; and is eyeing oil-rich Arab countries in the Arabian Gulf. The strike will also help Lebanon by weakening the Hezbollah militia, a major supporter of the Assad regime.
6. There will be no long or messy war; no American or any other foreign boots are to be on the ground. The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee specified “limited and tailored use of the United States Armed Forces.”
7. No or very little impact on the U.S. economy in the short run, but potential positive impact in the long run, as we expect to help in rebuilding Syria and have strong ties with the new free Syria.
8. This strike is supported by both Republican and Democratic leaders, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. President Obama will update Congress and keep an open channel of communications. American people will not be kept in the dark.
For all those people opposing this strike, I ask a simple question: Is there a better solution? God knows we tried every possible way to resolve this crisis, but the Assad regime refused any reasonable solution. No one wishes to see his or her country bombed, but we are seeing Syria like a cancer patient who needs surgery. It may be painful, but without it, the patient will die.
If you think the strike is a bad idea, think of not doing it. An average of 150 civilians die every day, and the Assad regime is increasing the brutality day after day. Its recent chemical attack on the Al-Ghouta suburb of Damascus on Aug. 21 killed more than 1500 people in one day. Are we waiting for a bigger catastrophe?
Saleh Mubarak is a Tampa engineer.