Despite the impressive numbers of Bashar al Assad’s security apparatus, the Syrian army is not all that powerful. Furthermore, Syrian security forces are now tired and demoralized. Thus, an important show of outside force would cause major cracks in the Syrian army. Let us not forget that there already is foreign intervention in Syria: Russia, Iran, and Hizbullah have all equipped the Syrian army with highly lethal material. The latter two have sent troops to support the regime’s barbaric crackdown on peaceful protesters.
Yes, the weapons Assad has are superior to what we can send the Free Syria Army, but, forget not, he is using this military superiority against civilians. It would be outrageous for us to simply sit and watch — and debate whether we should save civilian lives or not intervene. More than 8,000 have already been murdered: a catastrophe is looming and the civilian casualties will be massive if all we do is flock from one meeting to the next hoping that diplomacy and more sanctions will put an end to state-sponsored terrorism.
Arming the FSA is the best bet to protect the civilians. The arms sent to the FSA would not necessarily be used in acts of vengeance: Syria does not have the kind of sectarian strife that Lebanon, for example, has. Plus, the type of Islam prevalent in Syria is not an extremist Salafist type, to say nothing of the fact that the opposition has rejected the assistance of al-Qaeda. In fact, it is the convoluted Friends of Assad that are bent on inciting sectarianism among the protesters who, to this day, chant, “al shaab al surie wahed (the Syrian people are one).”
To Syrians still on the fence, I say this: the free people of Syria are not rising to please the East or West. They are not paying blood to replace one set of tyrants with another. Remaining silent, however, makes the Revolution more vulnerable to groups with separate agendas from the legitimate demands of the Syrian people—freedom, justice, and dignity. United we stand, divided we fall.
A safe-zone should be established inside Syrian territory, funded by the Gulf and policed by Turkey. This would give Syrians access to humanitarian relief and provide the FSA with a base out of which to operate. In addition to military equipment, what the FSA needs urgently is communications equipment: Stronger Command-and-Control would give them an edge since they already have the advantage in mobility. The high motivation of the FSA’s foot soldiers makes up for the deficit in numbers.
Given the above, it makes sense to support the Syrian people and equip the Free Syria Army. The Syrian people have the right to access medical supplies and weapons to save and protect their families. We must make the presently lopsided balance of power a more equal playing field.