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Mark Collins: What about Muslim intervention in Syria?

by Mark Collins

National Post
August 29, 2013

Western countries have conducted, over the last two decades or so, several “humanitarian interventions” in aid of Muslims: Somalia, Iraqi Kurdistan and Southern Iraq (no-fly zones), Bosnia, Kosovo and Libya. But none of these has gained the West–and especially the United States–any appreciable credit in the Muslim world broadly and in the Arab world more particularly.

Yet now a few Western governments led by the U.S. appear bent on attacking the Syrian government over its likely use of chemical weapons against rebel areas around Damascus. However one analyzes the rationales for such an assault a large component is undeniably humanitarian. People simply should not be gassed to death on a large scale. At least that is what many in the West profess to believe and thus action in reply is required.

Now here is a brief speech that U.S. President Obama, French President Hollande, and British Prime Minister Cameron might simultaneously deliver on live television internationally:


Muslims of the Middle East! The government of Syria has mercilessly slaughtered its own people through the horror of chemical weapons, weapons almost all countries in the world have condemned and renounced.

Surely and certainly such a despicable and cowardly action demands military punishment in response. Many members of the Arab League have indeed denounced these vile, these heinous, deeds.

But who should bear the responsibility for striking against the contemptible perpetrators? If Western countries do so recent history teaches us they will receive no real gratitude in your countries. Much more likely the reverse. In fact it is probable our countries will in the end be accused of still more neo-imperialism, neo-colonialism and disregard for Muslim lives.

Therefore: we three leaders call upon the leaders of your countries to punish the Syrian perpetrators. It is your region. Your co-religionists have been slaughtered. Moreover several of your countries have very significant air forces with aircraft and weapons purchased mainly from our three countries. Should your leaders strike backagainst the Assad regime we of course will provide necessary logistic, communications and intelligence support.

Is it not most directly upon your governments that the moral obligation rests to retaliate against Assad and his criminal collaborators? Unless–and this would be a most distressing and sad thing to have to conclude–that the conviction that there is a necessity, in extremis, to defend the innocent against unspeakable deeds is fundamentally and merely a “Western value”?

Le choix est le vôtre.

One can but dream. And hope.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Research Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute.


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