Former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski on Friday lamented the lack of a “strategic design” in Syria where the United States seem prepared to expand their support for opposition forces battling the regime of President Bashar Assad.
“It all seems to me rather sporadic, chaotic, unstructured, undirected,” Brzezinski said during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe television program a day after the administration had declared that chemical weapons were used in the Middle Eastern country’s civil war, crossing President Barack Obama’s “red line” and prompting America to start arming rebel fighters. Western diplomats said the United States were also considering to impose a no-fly zone over Syria, possibly from neighboring Jordan, an American ally.
Brzezinski pointed out the risks of deeper American involvement in the conflict which he believes is guided by “a lot of rhetoric, a lot of emotion, a lot of propaganda.”
The fact of the matter is that we are threatened by sliding into a sectarian civil war in which both sides are very brutal which can evolve into a larger regional war in which we will probably be pitted against Iran as an ally of Syria.
What began as a popular uprising against Assad’s secular dictatorship more than two years ago, inspired by similar revolts in neighboring Arab countries, has morphed into a sectarian conflict between the country’s majority Sunni Muslim population, that is backed by regional Sunni powers like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, and Assad’s minority Alawites, a Shiite tribe that is supported by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and its paymaster Iran. Assad is Iran’s only Arab ally.
Brzezinski, a foreign policy realist who was President Jimmy Carter’s chief advisor in the late 1970s, warned in July of last year that the West was “unintentionally recreating the Sino-Soviet bloc” by vilifying both countries’ stance in the Syrian crisis.
China and Russia repeatedly blocked United Nations Security Council resolutions that would have condemned Assad and could have cleared the way for international intervention.
“What motivates China and Russia is self-interest,” he told MSNBC in February. Neither power wants to sanction a repetition of Libya where, as they see it, NATO intervened in 2011 on the side of anti-government fighters not to protect civilians, as it was mandated to by the Security Council, rather to topple the regime of Muammar Gaddafi.
Intervention in Syria, Brzezinski predicted on Friday, “will affect the interest of Japan and of China,” which depend on oil imports from Iran that could be cut off if it is drawn into the war. “We should be building an international coalition to impose some sort of a solution,” he argued. “We should be seriously negotiating with the Chinese and the Russians.”
Russia, Assad’s only great power ally, has signaled an interest in diplomacy but not on the West’s condition that the Syrian president step down first.