Crossing the Red Line: US Military Intervention in Syria Looms as the Nation’s Civil War Worsens
The current civil conflict in Syria has now been raging for over two years and is beginning to threaten regional and international security. In many ways the conflict has become a proxy war, as Turkey and several Arab states have backed the Syrian rebels while Iran and Russia have continued support the Assad regime.
Although the West feels that the Assad regime should no longer rule Syria, it has been reluctant to fully embrace the Syrian rebels, providing only tepid support. However, the Obama administration has said that the use of chemical weapons would be a so-called “red line” the use of which could trigger a US military intervention in Syria.
In August, the Syrian military launched a chemical weapons attack against the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, killing as many as 1,500 people. Although there have been chemical weapons attacks in Syria before, the latest attack seems to have been more brazen and larger in scale.
In response to the Ghouta chemical weapons attack, US officials are now planning a potential military intervention in Syria. As it stands now, such an attack is likely to be limited to aerial and naval bombardment. Even so, such a strike will impact regional and international security. As a result, IMG Group, (http://www.theimg.com/) a top international security consulting firm, is analyzing the potential impact of a military intervention in Syria on international security. In particular, there are important implications for corporate and employee security across the Middle East.
The International Security Consequences of a Military Intervention in Syria
A military intervention in Syria, even one limited to bombardement, could have a significant effect on international security. Although few endorse the use of chemical weapons, many people around the world feel a strike will only worsen the situation. As such, the most obvious consequence of a military intervention is a proliferation of protests and demonstrations around the world. Within the United States, there are likely to be protests around government buildings, public spaces, as well as the offices of legislative officials. Globally, there will be protests outside the embassies and consulates of the United States and any other nations supporting military intervention in Syria.
The international security threat is particularly high in Lebanon. Despite its use of chemical weapons, Syria’s ally, Iran, may retaliate through a proxy. The most likely being Hezbollah based in southern Lebanon. As such, Western citizens and facilities in the Lebanon are at particularly high risk. In fact, the United States has already withdrawn all non-emergency embassy personnel from Beirut. Additionally, the French (who support intervention) are worried that troops assigned to the UN mission in Lebanon could become targets.
As in Lebanon, international security experts are concerned that a US military intervention in Syria could spill over into Iraq. According to the Wall Street Journal, an intercepted message from Iran’s Quds force directed Shiite militias in Iraq to retaliate against Western targets in the event of a military intervention in Syria. There is also the possibility that an escalation of hostilities in Syria could exacerbate Sunni-Shiite tension in Iraq, further threatening a fragile security situation.
Finally, a military intervention in Syria could affect security on an unexpected front: Cyberspace. Cyber attacks could hit civilian as well as military targets, taking down websites and disrupting essential services. The group of hackers known as the Syrian Electronic Army has already disrupted the New York Times and Huffington Post websites in addition to defacing the US Marines recruiting website. However, Syria has international allies as well. Sophisticated hacking groups in Russia with ties to the intelligence services may retaliate in response to a military intervention in Syria. Additionally, Iran has recently invested vast sums into its Cyber forces and may deploy them in the event of a Western strike.
There will be significant security consequences in the aftermath of a military intervention in Syria. After the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, many feel that a US-led military intervention is close at hand. International security professionals should be mindful of how an escalation in Syria could affect the regional and international security environment.
There are many things firms and organizations can do to respond effectively to international security threats. To learn more about IMGs experience with international security see: http://www.theimg.com/international-security-consulting.html
About the IMG Group
The IMG Group is a leading international security firm. Corporate or business organizations concerned about their need for detailed and robust international security planning can reach out to the IMG Group for assistance. The company’s expert security consultants provide services such as executive, employee, VIP, and expatriate travel security, risk and threat assessments, workplace violence prevention, crisis management planning, and more.
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