It’s looking increasingly likely that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons earlier this week on the out skirts of Damascus. The recent reports suggest some 350 people dead and around 3,500 injured by some form of nerve agent. It seems an insanely stupid thing for them regime to do given the fact that western support for the rebels had all but ground to a halt. I still have a hard time believing that the government would allow such an attack especially with the newly arrived UN weapons inspectors staying just 15 miles away. However if as I am now guessing the government is that stupid (or at least some elements of it) the question is what if anything should be done. If as the government claims it was the rebels (an even scarier thought) then why not let the UN inspectors in? I am the last person who wants us to intervene in Syria but with the use of WMD it’s getting to the point that we have to do something.
Would it be enough to use TLAM’s to take out much of the regimes air force and infrastructure then use Patriots on the boarder to enforce no fly zone’s for rebel controlled areas then start arming the moderate parts of the opposition forces as well as imbedding SF. I am sure such a policy could turn the tide quite quickly even without allied air strikes?
The 800 pound gorilla in the room is obviously the regimes supplies of chemical weapons. Could we secure these amid the type of anarchy we saw in Iraq and Libya after the fall of those regimes? The US estimated it would take 50,000 troops to secure these stockpiles. How quickly could we mount such a large operation and would the regime disperse them when it saw us building up for an invasion.
Could securing the boarders and enforcing a no fly zone with patriots help us to stop any way ward chemical weapons from leaving Syria?
It’s obvious that someone has chemical weapons in the field now. Given the regimes poor control over its military weather it’s the rebels or the government forces it can be too long until Al Qaeda gets its hands on them. The big question is, whether or not anything can be done to stop the scenes in Damascus being repeated on the streets of London.
The Russians and Chinese also pose another dimension. However given the proximity of Turkey to a Chemical weapons attack should we now consider ignoring the UN and invoking article 5. NATO and the EU is much closer to events on the ground than either Russia or China. The UK has sovereign territories less than 90 miles away. Would either Russia or China stand by if something like this was happening on the other side of their boarder?