London papers, in particular The Times of London, is citing “American foreign policy sources” that the departure of General Petraeus will weaken the evolution of US policy to act on the Syrian crisis. The Times reported that Petraeus “was personally responsible for persuading President Obama to take a more robust approach towards intervention in Syria, according to one Washington source. How true this is remains uncertain, but what is certain is that there is, among certain circles, a growing consensus here in Britain that some swift action is needed to stem the humanitarian crisis and to stop massive escalated killing within Syria and finally help move towards the end of Assad.
Britain has already hinted as to the possible use of the military without any specifics as to how or when. If the “Friends of Syria” are prevented from acting within Syria under the authority of the UN Security Council due to the vetoes by Russia and China (the key “Friends of Syria”), nations can recognize the newly united National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as the “legitimate government.” That government can then “ask” for humanitarian intervention. This can be accompanied by armed international protection and even arms to the moderate elements of the coalition by NATO or a coalition of the willing. But it ideally should be comprised also of Islamic states, preferably with both Sunni and Shia elements.
Note, Iran and Russia are already supplying illegal arms to Assad. But to make this work long-term, the new Syrian coalition would have to prove that it will carry out a program of humane and fair government and not be an instrument of revenge or discrimination against any ethic group. This means, as in the former Yugoslavia after the intervention, to accept an armed post-conflict international force of peacekeepers and supervisors of internal peace and stop communal bloodletting. It must also oversee impartial and humane governance and fair judicial action against those individuals who truly carried out illegal acts of brutality.
Our responsibility and that of the regional powers are not just to try to protect the refugees but also to not to let the conflict spread over the Middle East region. The international community has a key responsibility after Assad goes to also make sure that killing and further acts of barbarism are not the destiny of Syria or that ethnic conflict becomes the enduring inheritance of this civil war.