The Obama administration came up maddeningly short on Syrian airstrikes just a month ago, despite having its finger on the trigger.
The decision initially seemed a result of political pressure, but there may be a more obvious reason: the unclear and very likely messy outcome had Syrian President Bashar al-Assad been toppled.
Just look at what has happened to Libya since the fall of President Muammar Gaddafi.
The headline of a recent Al Arabiya article reads, “Report: Al-Qaeda seeks Qaddafi’s leftover uranium and missiles.”
Inside the post, a colonel in the Libyan Army expounds further:
“Al-Qaeda was terrified of Qaddafi,” says Colonel Faraj Adem, a senior army officer. “None would dare try to enter Libya’s borders. But now Qaddafi has gone, and with him our border security, al-Qaeda is free to come and go as they please. They are choosing this area to rebuild their weapon stocks and become strong once more. There is no control of weapons stocks here. You want to buy a MANPADS? It’s easy.”
So not only is there 6,400 pounds of yellowcake uranium (which requires a lot of processing to make a bomb, thankfully) in locations around Libya, but there are several tons of surface-to-air missiles.
Yes, the type that can take out civilian airliners.
Since Gaddafi’s fall, the CIA — with help from local militias — and Al Qaeda have been competing to get a hold of these missiles.
What this has to do with Assad is almost analogous, except worse.
Already Islamic extremists have spilled Syria’s conflict into neighbouring Lebanon and Iraq. There have also been incidental potshots into Turkey and Israel.
Every day that America slows its financial and materiel support of so-called “moderate” rebel groups, the well-backed jihadi groups fatten with new recruits.
Assad’s chemical stockpile is, by some estimates, one of the largest in the world. Not to mention all the over-the-table, totally legit, open-air support they’ve gotten from Moscow in terms of missile and tank technology.
All of those weapons would be up for grabs.
Should Assad fall without an immediate, stable coalition ready to take his place, the results would likely be catastrophic.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.