The United States-led airstrikes on Syria this past Saturday coincidentally landed in the northern Arabian Peninsula during the annual Arab League summit. The Arab League is a voluntary association of countries whose main language and peoples are Arabic.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was not at the summit. The country was suspended from the league in 2011.
During the summit — held in Saudi Arabia on April 15 — the strike went unaddressed. The Syrian conflict was discussed, such as condemning the use of chemical weapons, but the strikes near Damascus, Syria, were not on the agenda. Countries released statements outside of the summit: Saudi Arabia congratulated the attack while, Lebanon and Iraq condemned it, probably remembering their own traumas with U.S. intervention.
The summit did stress the need for a political solution in Syria, but nothing will happen until Saudi Arabia and Iran decide to end their proxy wars for regional supremacy.
Iran has tried to help Assad eliminate the rebel threat to his regime, whereas Saudi Arabia is trying to gain a foothold in Syria to establish their take on Islamic rule in a post-Assad future. The Saudi royal family wants to ensure that certain extremist groups do not take hold in Syria; they would threaten the family’s rule in the peninsula.
Discussing the airstrikes would have meant discussing the big elephant in the room: how the Arab world has learned from the U.S. and Russia to fight the wars of the powerful on the territory of the weak. It would be admitting that regional powers, in this case Saudi Arabia and Iran, have become their oppressors by using a country’s civil discourse for their own political gain; they have taken advantage of the civil war to play out their ideologies.
Discussing the airstrikes would be further admitting that Saudi Arabia and Iran are playing into the U.S. and Russia’s own proxy wars in the Middle East. At the end of the day, Syria ends up being the proxy war of a proxy war, the physical manifestation of clashing foreign policy egos — the result of a dick-waving contest, for lack of a better metaphor.
The complete disregard for Syrian life and the continuous aggravation of the conflict by part of external actors has literally plummeted the country into ashes. The U.S.-led airstrike is another of countless bouts of masculine insecurity manifested in foreign policy decisions. Syria is taking a beating — first the punches from Assad’s thirst for power, then slaps from the Middle East’s internal power-balancing and then a sucker punch from the remnants of a Cold War that never really ended but just changed the region.