Let’s start with the obvious: not a single international player cares about the welfare or security of the Syrian people. They may say they care, but actions speak louder than words.
When it comes to Syria, the governments of the United States, Russia, France, UK, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Australia, Jordan, Canada, Turkey, U.A.E., Qatar, Bahrain, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and of course Syria itself, have all bombed Syrians at one point or another since the rebellion had started in 2011, with undeniable civilian casualties labeled as “mistakes” and “collateral damage” by the perpetrators.
As for non-government actors, it is well-known by now that they all have political agendas. Just do a little bit of investigative journalism (like the one Max Blumenthal did recently) to see where their money is flowing from, then you’ll uncover their true intentions. One particular indication of such hidden political agendas is whenever an individual or an organization calls for a no-fly zone in the Syrian airspace. One of the most highly-publicized examples would be the White Helmets, an organization that lies about where it gets its funding from, and lies about being neutral in the Syrian conflict. One need not look far for evidence. The White Helmets’ official website, and in almost every public appearance they participate in, they call for a ‘no-fly zone.’
A no-fly zone sounds benign and harmless; the opposite of violence. Have the UN Security Council impose a no-fly zone over Syria (at least over rebel-held territories), and that way the Syrian government and its allies can no longer bomb civilians from the air. So how is calling for a no-fly zone anything but pacifist?
Anyone familiar with a little bit of politics and history understands very well what a no-fly zone actually means. Recall in 1992, two no-fly zones were imposed on Iraq by the US and UK “to protect civilians.” To enforce this no-fly zone, the US, UK, and France flew their warplanes and helicopters to “patrol” the skies of another sovereign state they had been at war with! Meanwhile the US and UK never felt any sense of irony when they bombed Iraqi civilians at will, even after Iraq had surrendered to all US terms, all the way up to the 2003 invasion.
In Libya, the US and its allies imposed a no-fly zone in 2011 “to protect civilians,” while US coalition warplanes roamed freely, bombing Libyan military targets, and giving cover to the Islamist rebels and mercenaries as they advanced towards the capital city and toppled the Qaddafi regime and his supporters, only to find out that the new government was ISIS, precisely as the US military experts had predicted.
Two different cases of no-fly zones, but with one unmistakable consequence: regime change is the end game. After all, a no-fly zone is a direct violation of the UN charter, international law, and the fundamental concept of state sovereignty. Can you imagine any country on earth imposing a no-fly zone on, say, France? Can you imagine it imposed on Russia?
Let’s be serious. When it comes to Syria, it’s not only Syrian warplanes that are bombing the rebel-held territories. A no-fly zone on Syria would also include Russian warplanes. And it’s not clear how any nation, even the United States itself, could possibly enforce such a demand on the second most powerful army in the world. First of all, the Russians have veto power at the UN. This would definitely rule out the legitimacy of demanding a no-fly zone through the UN Security Council. And secondly, suppose that the United States and its allies decided to bypass the UN and act on their own, once again. Does this mean that the US and its allies are going to shoot down Russian fighter jets over Syrian skies?
So unless the call for a no-fly zone on Syria is some kind of a joke, then there are only two possible outcomes of insisting on imposing it: Either it’s a tactic to prevent any serious peaceful resolution from being achieved in order to further weaken the country into further political compromise, or it’s the beginning of an all-out war between the two superpowers, dragging along with them their allies into the end of human civilization. In both cases, the security and the welfare of the Syrian people are completely ignored. If the factions of the pro Syrian-rebel camp (that are demanding a no-fly zone on Syria as a pre-condition to resolving the conflict) want to be taken seriously, they must explain to the rest of the world exactly which of the two inevitable outcomes aforementioned they are bent on achieving. The matter of the fact is that they can’t square their demand for a no-fly zone with their pretension to care about the lives of the innocent.
Nothing wrong with wanting the overthrow of an evil dictatorship (I, for one, desire the fall of all evil governments). But when the price of that downfall is the blood and livelihood of millions, such a desire can no longer be equivocated with humanitarianism. And toppling a Syrian regime that is strongly supported by at least half of the Syrian people, not to mention the backing of two major superpowers (Russia and China), cannot be achieved without a whole lot more blood, death, and destruction. People who say that the ousting of Assad and his regime is a precondition to peace are naive at best, and straight out hypocrites at worst. Such a position cannot be taken seriously by someone who genuinely cares about the Syrian men, women, and children who are still alive.
Some Syrians will never settle for anything less than the fall of the Assad regime because to them it became a matter of personal vendetta. The Assad regime had killed someone they loved dearly, and so to reach a resolution that keeps Assad in power is a slap in their face that they cannot tolerate. But that is such a selfish position to resolving the conflict! If they were told that the toppling of the Assad regime will cost the lives of just another 20 Syrian infants, would they agree to it? I can’t see how such a position is moral or ethical. I simply cannot respect it. These people, whether they are aware of it or not, have decided that regime change is worth the blood of millions of men, women, and children, not to mention the almost inevitable civil war that would ensue the fall of Assad, since the opposition is made up of too many warring factions (Afghanistan all over again).
As someone who had advocated the Syrian rebellion when it first started, I have come to terms with reality. And the reality is that the revolution had already died five years ago. The rebels who are still fighting the regime on the ground are nothing but hallow corpses, animated by foreign money, weapons, and political support. The moment the US and its allies decide to pull the plug (and they will, once they concede that a third world war is not worth the political gains, or once they subdue the Syrian regime to an acceptable level of compromise), the revolution’s death will finally be televised.