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Behind the Syria Headlines

Original Article

The world is preoccupied with Greece just now, and Americans are subjected to history’s longest Presidential election campaign, but events in Syria are ominous in ways they deserve more attention than they are getting. The Russians, one way or another, are sending armaments to the Assad regime. France, under Hollande as under Sarkozy, is leading Europe’s support for the rebels. (Remember, less than a hundred years ago France was a colonial power in Syria.)

What is getting too little attention is the attitude of the Turks. The Wall Street Journal, in an article today by Nick Mallas, notes at the tail end of an account of European attitudes that “Turkish officials have said they are militarily prepared for a safe zone along their border, but need what one regional official called ‘the ironclad backing of the U.S. and others.”

Will they get it? If they don’t, the bloodshed will continue until the Assad military kills enough protestors and militants to intimidate the rest of the country. If they do get U.S. and other support, a Turkish zone of safety might become the launching area for an assault on Assad that finally could topple his regime.

A Turkish zone of safety presumably would extend into Syria itself, though that is not manifestly clear.

Turks were crucial in aiding the Libyan revolution and they could be again in respect to Syria, Iran’s chief ally in the region. If foreign support for the rebels can be accomplished with some assurances about the subsequent safety of Syrian minorities–notably Christians and Alawites–this development could be profound in its consequences.

History won’t wait for elections in Europe and the U.S.