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US needs to have a new policy for Syria
First of all, why should the US not intervene militarily in Syria? This is the repeat, for sure. The reasons are that that such would drag the US into a bloody sectarian conflict, the arms may reach into the hands of terrorists who may use them against the US interests in future, that Bashar al-Assad is secular, that he is cooperating on chemical disarmament, that post-Assad Syria would be equally unstable and poorly chaotic and the list goes on.

Except for the last mentioned reason, the other reasons are genuine and should factor into any calculation involving US military intervention in Syria or elsewhere in any Islamic country. But the fact remains that the dominant view among Syrians and the larger Arab world is that with Mr. Assad's solution to conflict is impossible, while without him there may be a solution. Nobody knows for sure what that probable solution would look like.

But then the US needs to have a policy on Syria as a corollary to its general policy in the Middle East and North Africa. First of all, the US should not abandon the region no matter how compelling reasons for pivoting to East Asia be, combined with usual financial constraints.

The US is a source of stability in the region and it abandoning the region would lead to unhealthy sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites led by the Saudi Arabia and Iran. Such would have cascading domino effects on all demographic relations and political equations in the region and beyond. The Russian Federation and China would also like to enhance their present position in the region leaving the progressive and liberal Muslims in rather unwanted and unwelcome hopeless position.

The US needs to state it clear that neither of the two sects in Islam should compel it to choose between the two. But if left to choose, the choice should be clear for the US: it would choose the global Muslim majority, Sunnis: that is what the market factors would suggest. But that option is possible if Iran is able to enhance its status among the Shiite people of the region and Shiite-dominated nation-states taking an anti-Sunni stand and the US-led West not having a good working relationship with Iran. Not-so-good relationship of the US with the Russian Federation could further polarize the situation in the region complicating the demographic relationships and political equations.

The US otherwise should make it clear that it would not like to globally show any preference of one sect over another. But that should be its overall general policy and in specific nations or sub-regions, it should support majority rule after obtaining all possible rights and privileges for all possible minorities.

The US should make sure that the majorities in the region do not persecute their respective minorities but at the same time it should not be hesitant to take side as per situation, nationally and sub-regionally.  

As a rule the US should not oppose Islamism and Islamists. It should rather oppose extreme extremism, which is obtrusive to normalcy in the region and beyond that. It should judge Islamic societies by their relative standards and norms and not by absolute and Western standards and norms. The more important point for the US is its understanding that universality has limits and constraints and that the Western laws cannot be imposed on Islamic nations without adaptation and modification to the specific regional requirements.

In particular the US should not try to undo evolutions and diktats by local laws unless and until they would not lead to violent and chaotic situations. It should respect the verdicts by the respective majorities. It should support adult universal suffrage in Islamic societies without insisting on them imitating Westminster type democracy. Of course, if it tries so in the Islamic states, such would fail miserably there.

But the US should refrain itself from academic exercise and also refrain from extending the arguments of probity and consistency to the two poles of Islamic societies: Saudi Arabia and Iran. It should make exception to both the states while accepting both as the leaders of their respective sects. Let Saudi Arabia and Iran remain what they have been and they change by their internal laws and not by the US' nudging. In particular, the US should not champion excessively for Shiites’ rights in Saudi Arabia and Sunnis’ rights in Iran if it faces vehement opposition by the two and others but it should try to bring two opposing poles directly to the diplomatic tables after taking the differences in their clout and influence into account.

The US should be careful before advocating the rights of females in Islamic societies. It should insist on females’ education and work rights and not necessarily on their social and religious rights. In essence, the US should make sure that more and more females become part of the work force but again it should take care of the general sensitivity over the issue. In simple terms, it should mean business and not insist on worthless nonsense.

Other than taking a political position on various issues and trying amending some basic demographic relations, it should make sure that the region does not drag itself into a bloody arms race. This is particularly true about Arab states and Iran trying to possess nuclear weapons. Just like the US allowing Saudi Arabia and Iran to go their own way, it should also try to make sure that neither of them are closer towards having critical nuclear weapon capacity.

It requires close cooperation among Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran and a possible cooperation from Pakistan. The US should declare its full support to independent, sovereign and viable Palestine state without the latter posing existential threat to Zionist state and Israel committing itself to no first use policy unless and until it is not under direct existential threat from its Arab neighbours and Iran. In order to be more effective the US also needs to address Pakistan’s concerns over the drone strikes.

It is high time the US starts reworking and reviewing its policy towards the Islamic states. The fact is that cloning humans of desired properties is outside the reach of present science on earth. Cloning humans psychologically is still a distant dream that very few can see. The US should not try to clone or wish for cloned Muslims. The fact is by no amount of investment and nation-building efforts can the West-led by the US create Muslims and Islamic states of its desire.

While there are commonalities in evolutions, there are great differences too and both these facts should not be forgotten. The general mistakes of the US in its policy towards the Islamic nations, particularly towards the Middle East and the North Africa, are its excessive beliefs in universality of human brains, humans’ common intentions and common desires and necessity of rationality. 

In view of the above, the US needs to have a proper Syria policy, if for nothing else then for formulating a new viable Middle East policy. In Syria, the US needs to overtly go against the Syrian regime and should favour moderate Sunnis openly or else there would not be much moderate forces left and the region would rescale to a new normal in the form of radicalized Islam. But it should make sure that Sunnis, if and when in power, they do not repeat the mistake of suppressing and persecuting other sect and religious minorities.

The US should also lobby for a Syrian state where Shariah is not binding and there is a place for legitimate rights for religious and sectarian minorities, females, atheists and apostates. The post-Assad Syria should not be cruel but there is nothing wrong in the state having Islam as its religion.

Therefore, the US should try for moderation if possible within the tenets of Islam and should place more emphasis on economy and growth. The US should make it a policy of promoting Islamism-consumerism among Islamic states, again without bias for and against a specific-sect while at the same consistently respecting and supporting majorities.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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