08/29/2013, 00.00
SYRIA - USA
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Attacking Syrian serves no purpose. The Middle East needs tolerance, not weapons

Philip J. Crowley, until 2011 foreign policy advisor to the Obama administration , speaks to AsiaNews about the geopolitical scenarios in the event of the fall of Bashar al- Assad. At least four conflicts are raging within the country : between the regime and rebels , Saudi Arabia and Iran, Israel and Hezbollah , Al- Qaeda and the moderate Arab world . Only with moderate and charismatic leaders will Arab countries find their stability. But it will be a slow process, that will take at least one generation.

Washington (AsiaNews) - "What happens in Syria will resonate across the region and multiple dimensions... What these countries need is a figure that will lead them towards a more tolerant society".  This is the opinion of Philip J. Crowley, former assistant and spokesman for the U.S. State Department and now a professor at George Washington University. He served the Obama administration from 2009 to 2011 . Interviewed by AsiaNews, the U.S. diplomat describes possible future scenarios and the consequences of the attack on Damascus planned by the United States with the support of Great Britain , France, Turkey , Canada and the Arab League.

"In Syria - says Crowley - there is more than one war being waged. There is the conflict between the Assad regime and the Free Syrian Army, a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, a shadow war between Israel and Hezbollah and al Qaeda's war against the prevailing Arab order and the West. Obviously what happens in Syria will resonate across the region and multiple dimensions. "

Added to these regional problems is struggle between Russia and the United States for hegemony in the Middle East. "Over the past 35 years, a number of regional governments who were former Soviet client states have strengthened their relationships with the United States at Russia's expense. This animates President Putin's approach to Syria. Russia also has a deeply held belief that regimes should not be overthrown by force and what happens with the internal affairs of a country is none of the international community's business". According to the former State Department employee, after the effects of the war in Libya, Russia is determined to avoid a similar way out in Syria. "The United States - he explains - believe that Assad has lost his legitimacy given the mounting death toll and now the use of chemical weapons. The two countries just look at Syria and reach different conclusions about the implications".

When asked about the strengthening of al- Qaeda after 10 years of the fight against terrorism, conducted first by George W. Bush and continued by Obama, Crowley answered by quoting the results obtained in recent years , but also admits mistakes, the high human and economic toll and unforeseen scenarios . " I think, for example, the present situation in Libya and in South Sahara - he explains -Ultimately this is a struggle within Islam. More and more Islamic leaders have rejected al Qaeda's narrow interpretation of a great religion. This is the struggle that counts the most. The United States is trying to help counties strengthen their ability to deal with al Qaeda off-shoots themselves. We can help but cannot do it by ourselves. What we have done has been broadly effective, but it comes with high costs and some unintended consequences".

For the future of the Middle East, the former spokesman for the State Department is hoping for a political transformation of the countries of the Arab Spring , to allow the inclusion of all members of society, especially religious minorities. To obtain this result, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya are in need of moderate leaders supported by the population, but so far no politician seems to have the appropriate skills and consensus. " Right now - he says - the post-Arab Spring Middle East is governed by a zero-sum mentality. If you win, I lose. This is tragic, but probably not all that surprising. What these countries need is a Mandela-like figure to lead them towards a more tolerant, inclusive positive-sum civil society. These figures have not yet emerged. Tragically, positive change does not occur overnight. It will be the work of a generation"( S.C.)

 

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