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Senator McCain wants to drag the US into the Syrian war

The Gulf Sunni monarchies are blatantly blackmailing the US, threatening to broaden financing of Islamic extremists if Washington refuses to enter the conflict and bomb Syria, defense analyst Ivan Eland told RT. And Senator McCain is abetting them.

The Foreign Relations Committee of the US Senate has just passed two amendments to the Syrian war resolution. Republican Senator John McCain, who presented the changes, stated that one of the purposes of these amendments is to “change the momentum on the battlefield in Syria”.

The Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty in Washington, Ivan Eland, believes this statement is quite serious, because the US President Barack Obama “really didn’t want to do that”. 

“He just wanted to deter and degrade [President] Assad’s capabilities to use chemical weapons,” insists Eland.

The problem is expanding for the Obama administration, because altering the situation on the battlefield against Assad is not a good idea. Assad’s troops are confronting rebels to a large extent controlled by Al-Qaeda, who “may even be worse than Assad”, Eland said. 

U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) (Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP)

“We’re slowly being dragged into this war – and that is exactly what McCain wants. His price for supporting the president’s strike was to widen us out, and that’s one of the ways he’s doing it,” estimated the expert.

Ivan Eland believes that the US is stepping onto a very dangerous path “from the perspective of trying not to be embroiled in a war”, particularly in the light of the fact that the US is going to bomb yet another Muslim country. 

Sunni monarchies blackmailing US

The US Secretary of State John Kerry has announced recently in the House of Representatives that Saudi Arabia and Qatar agreed to finance an operation against the Syrian President, Bashar Assad. The Gulf monarchies also threatened to give more money to extremists fighting against Assad’s troops if the US refuses to bomb Syria.

Ivan Eland labels this threat as “implicit blackmail”.

“This is a nonsensical argument. The opposite could happen if the US starts bombing another Muslim country,” said Eland, pointing out that Syria might become the fourth one after Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

Eland said that one of the principles of the international jihadists flocking into Syria is that they don’t like the US for intervening in Muslim countries and killing Muslims, and exactly for that reason the US attack on Syria cannot reduce the jihadist element in the Middle East.

A left wing activist holds a placard bearing an altered image of U.S. President Barack Obama during a rally to denounce Obama's proposed plan for a limited military strike in Syria, in front of the U.S. embassy in Kiev September 5, 2013. (Reuters/Gleb Garanich)

The defense analyst predicted that Sunni Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar would support “whatever faction is most effective, whether the US attacks or not”.

“It is ridiculous, these countries are holing us with blackmail,” he said, stressing that Sunni monarchies are going to support jihadists anyway, whether the US bomb Syria or not.

“In fact that could make jihadists even more active in a war – simply because the US is attacking an Islamic country,” Eland told RT.

In the meantime Secretary of State Kerry pushes forward an idea that Al- Qaeda-linked elements are not dominating the Syrian rebels’ forces and that moderate fighters are gradually gaining control over anti-Assad forces.
But author Ivan Eland believes that “They find it because it is in their interest to find it rather than it is actually happening.”

Ivan Eland, Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty in Washington

“All other experts are now saying that the Al-Qaeda people are now dominating the Syrian opposition. That was one of the reasons that Obama was reluctant to give more aid, and even give any aid in the first place, and certainly hasn’t given too much aid to the opposition, because this Al-Qaeda domination contradicts the president’s own behavior before this,” Eland explained, refusing to believe that the core of the rebel forces have changed that much.

“I think in war time the most ruthless people are eventually getting guns from places they are not supposed to, like stealing them or whatever, or killing the other factions. The most ruthless people usually dominate. The Al-Qaeda people have shown that unfortunately they are the best fighters. I don’t see the moderate elements coming on and being more effective,” Eland said. 

US seeking precedent to bypass UNSC

Speaking in Stockholm on Wednesday, President Barack Obama said that it is hard to act through a UN Security Council’s resolution and in the future there might be situations when the UN won't be able to do anything.

Answering a question about whether Obama’s statement might be setting a precedent for anyone to bypass the UN Security Council when deciding to use force in the future, Ivan Eland explained that the UN Charter, which both Russia and the US are members of, restricts taking military action without the UN Security Council’s approval, unless it is in self-defense.

A government forces tank is seen in the Khalidiyah neighbourhood of Syria's central city of Homs on July 28, 2013. (AFP Photo)

“It is very hard to make the case that Syria poses some imminent threat to the United States,” Eland said. “I suppose that they could say there is some threat to Turkey to make a collective defense for a NATO ally. But that is really sketchy, I don’t think that anybody has said that Turkey has been threatened, including the Turks,” Eland pointed out.

“As far as I’m concerned, the legal justification for going in is not there. Even in the extreme case, if it is demonstrated beyond any doubt that Assad committed this chemical attack on August 21, there’s still no legal means to go after him or to even attack him with missiles or whatever under international law,” acknowledged Eland, “because you have to have the UN Security Council approval to do that, if it is not self-defense. And it is not self-defense in this case.”