The Syrian government claims as a victory the Russian brokered chemical weapons deal with America. Throughout the Middle East the deal to get rid of Syrian WMDs instead of a promised military strike is being seen by some as US weakness. It also gives credence to the Al-Qaida line that Infidels only act to serve their own priorities, which mainly is the free flow of oil. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-crisis-clear-and-convincing-evidence-of-sarin-gas-says-un-8817774.html
But what dictators in that region can't fathom is how a democracy works. How President Obama could back down on the use of force because the American people and their congressional representatives didn't want another Middle East war. Such populist power is unknown in Arab countries. Yet it would be a big mistake to hold the view the US has chickened - out of the fray.
Granted, Obama boxed himself into a corner with his premature talk of action after a red line was crossed. And it had to be galling for him to receive of lifeline from Russia. But his error was misreading American sentiment and not understanding what a limited military strike might do to make matters even worse.
The action may be turn into the biggest plus factor in the region for Russia since the Cold War days. Some nations there may be sensing a wind of change from West to East. Egypt's new military rulers are already cozying up to the Russians. This is a result of America threatening to cut financial and military aid because of the overthrow of the democratically elected Islamist government.
However, it's wrong to underestimate America's resolve to protect its interests in the region. For example, Israel may be feeling worried about the US commitment to its security given the US public's unwillingness to back more US military Middle East actions.
Yet, it's important to remember Israel is a close ally of America and modern progressive democracy with a lot of clout in the US. Syria, a repressive tribal dictatorship, has never been an American friend or client state and Americans know this.
Obama's concern at what he sees happening there is based mainly on the long-term geo-political implications for the region given that Russia and Iran are the main backers of Syria. He had hoped to gain massive popular support by condemning the use of chemical weapons. Yet, as bad as this is, it's not something in which the American people want to become involved.
On the other hand, what will Obama's reaction be in there are more gas attacks on Syrian civilians? Will he assume the clothes of UK PM David Cameron and condemn the Assad regime without taking any action?
My guess would be he would seek a Libya style mandate from the UN to invoke NATO into action. This would bolster his standing among the oil rich Gulf Arab states and his entries in history books. Since he's into his second term in office, American public opinion, positive or negative, can only affect domestic bills he wants to get approved. Yet domestic politics in the US is a separate world from Syria.
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