Religion and Politics: The Dilemma of Islam

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by Rajendra Prabhu

When in September international outrage had not removed the minority regime in Syria after it was found using chemical weapons against its own (majority) populace, U.S. President Obama took on the Syrian dilemma himself and faced a complicated decision. At the time, Syrian deaths from poisonous chemical gas at over 1,500 had overshadowed neighboring Egypt’s similar number of dead — but the latter from the military firing to disperse protesting Muslim Brotherhood supporters of the deposed president Morsi.

Expert in strategy Edward N. Luttwak, author of “The Logic of War and Peace,” described the U.S. President’s dilemma succinctly in a recent article in the New York Times:

The Barack Obama administration should resist the temptation to intervene more forcefully in Syria’s civil war. A victory for either side would be equally undesirable for the U.S. At this point a prolonged stalemate is the only outcome that will not be damaging to U.S. Interests.

In other words, the advice to the President was to let the Syrians settle it among themselves, and the devil takes the human costs. If the President were to act, it would be only in the nature of some cost effective punishment rather than forcing a change of regime, White House sources had already made clear.

Behind the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are Shia Iran and the Shia militia of Hezbollah and Hamas with their pronounced anti-Western, anti-U.S., anti-Israel agendas as well as a challenge to the Sunni majority among other Muslim nations and regimes. The opponents of Assad are dissident groups with different aims, but over the two-and-half years this rebellion has been going on, the upper hand among the rebels is now with groups aligned to Al Qaeda.

If the legal but minority Alawite regime in Damascus is using chemical weapons to kill other Syrians, mostly from the majority Sunnis, the rebels are …

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