By Ala’ Alrababa’h (twitter: @a_alrababah)
Note: This post is based on a detailed military analysis that Ala’ Alrababa’h conducted under the supervision of Professor Daryl Press, of Dartmouth College.
The Obama administration is clearly reluctant to intervene in Syria. A full-scale intervention risks dragging the United States into another civil war. Most proposals for limited interventions – e.g., airstrikes to weaken the Syrian government, or direct military support for one or more rebel groups – risk accelerating the Syrian government’s collapse without establishing any real U.S. influence over post-Assad Syria. But a different type of limited intervention is possible, which would raise small risks for U.S. forces and directly alleviate the ongoing humanitarian disaster.
The humanitarian situation in Syria is dreadful—about 80,000 people have died in the fighting, and conditions may be growing worse: evidence is mounting that chemical weapons have been used, perhaps by the Syrian government, perhaps by the rebels, and perhaps by both sides. Those who say that little can be done to alleviate the suffering have overlooked a promising military option: establishing safe corridors to help civilians stuck in the crossfire escape. Here, I advance a plan similar to Anne-Marie Slaughter’s 2012 proposal for “no-kill zones” in Syria. Those zones would provide humanitarian assistance to civilians in close proximity to the borders.