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Fears Arise over Syrian Conflict

October 10, 2012
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Speaking in an interview on CBS “This Morning” in early August, Abdullah described a “worst case scenario” where the minority Allawite sect that has ruled under Bashar al-Assad sets up an enclave as part of the “breakup of greater Syria,” where “everybody starts land-grabbing.” The Jordanian monarch shared his fear that Syria could fall into “the abyss… [which] is complete and utter civil war, which I think will take us years to come back from.”

The conflict began in March 2011 with peaceful protests against the al-Assad regime as part of the “Arab Spring,” to which the authorities responded with a vicious crackdown. It eventually spiraled into armed conflict between the sides. The crisis has claimed the lives of thousands with estimates from 17,000 to 23,000. The regime has been accused of using artillery against civilian targets and torture, while the opposition has used bombings and more traditional military fighting. The United States strongly opposed the government-led violence, but, as of the end of July, efforts to involve the United Nations to a significant degree were undercut by Russia and China.

Potential Use of Chemical Weapons

Abdullah also expressed fears to CBS over the potential use of Syrian chemical weapons and the falling of those weapons into rebel hands. “And who are those rebels?” he asked. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was likewise worried about those chemical weapons.

In July, he said that they are monitoring “the possibility that during the fall of the Assad’s regime, Hizbullah will try to smuggle, from Syria to Lebanon, advanced weapons systems, or heavy ground-to-ground missiles, or even chemical weapons; thus we will remain vigilant.” Barak further noted that even members of terror groups such as al-Qaeda are inside the chaos in Syria, and he pointed out that Israel isn’t the only one in the region “anxious about the fact that an anarchic situation will bring about the transfer of sensitive systems into the wrong hands.”

Syrians mourn the death of family members who died during the fighting. Similarly, in comments to “Fox News Sunday,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear that, while Israel doesn’t seek conflict, they can’t rule out the possibility of acting in some way to prevent chemical weapons from reaching dangerous elements. “We certainly don’t want to be exposed to chemical weapons falling in the hands of Hizbullah or other terror groups, because that’s something we can’t be indifferent to,” said Netanyahu. “It’s a great threat. We’ll have to consider our action…Do I seek action? No. Do I preclude it? No.” Netanyahu did say that “we hope we don’t have to, and we didn’t necessarily consider seizing those weapons. There are other possibilities.”

The concerns over all-out civil war and Syria’s chemical weapons have come as the violence in Syria continued its intensity. In early August, the US expressed outrage over the range of military elements being used by the regime against the rebels in civilian areas. US spokesman Patrick Ventrell was quoted by the State Department as saying, “We just think that it’s unconscionable that the government would use fighter jets, artillery, tanks, and helicopters to bombard towns and cities under the rubric of protecting them.”

Source: By Joshua Spurlock, The Mideast Update

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