With each passing day, the situation in Syria worsens as government forces continue a violent crackdown on dissent that has already cost hundreds, if not thousands of lives. The latest reports also indicate the killing is taking on a sectarian nature as members of the minority Alawite sect to which the ruling Assad family belongs are being recruited to go into the streets to attack the regime’s critics. But those who claim this is none of America’s business need to take into account that while the Assad government is killing its own people with impunity, it is also continuing its policy of spreading deadly arms around the region.
The Australian is reporting that even as the Syrian army surrounded Hama threatening to massacre that city’s inhabitants, the regime has accelerated the shipping of missiles and other weapons to its Hezbollah terrorist allies in Lebanon. According to the newspaper, the Syrians have, with the help of imported technicians from Iran and North Korea, developed sophisticated missiles at a secret plant in the mountains near Hama. Operating with heavy financial aid from Iran, the Syrians have shipped SCUD missiles in the last year to Hezbollah in Lebanon in order to bolster the terror group’s ability to threaten Israel. But unlike Hezbollah’s existing arsenal of short-range missiles, these SCUDs put all of Israel –as well as Jordan and parts of Turkey–within range. As a source told the paper, this is the first time a terror group has ever possessed weapons of this kind.
The Syrian role in arming Hezbollah highlights the crisis in that country and the increasingly reckless use of force by a government desperate to hold onto power at any cost is something that ought to concern the entire world. Though the Obama administration spent its first years in office acting as if Damascus could be diverted from its Iranian alliance and make peace with Israel, those illusions seem to have been abandoned even by the dreamers in the White House.
While it is true the United States cannot fix every country that is broken or involve itself in every conflict, the Assad regime poses a threat not only to the lives of ordinary Syrians but to the entire region. Indeed, rather than the Syrian protests being an example of how the Arab Spring movement can undermine even the most ruthless of dictators, the outcome of the struggle there will be the harbinger of the end of any hope for Arab democracy or peace. A continued U.S. policy of indifference towards Assad’s efforts to perpetuate the Alawite/Assad family dictatorship is a mistake. So long as the Assads are in a position to threaten the region, American interests will remain under threat.