The Washington Post reports in their article, “Syrian rebels get influx of arms with gulf neighbors’ money, U.S. coordination,” that Persian Gulf nations such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar with coordination from the United States have spent millions arming and funding militant opposition groups battling the Assad government . The United States has admittedly spent $6 million training opposition journalists and activists between 2006 and 2010, while funneling approximately $6.3 million to the Movement for Justice and Development, a London-based dissident organization that broadcasts anti-government news into Syria . As a further indication of foreign elements at work in Syria, members of the Syrian opposition have also adopted tactics seen by Al Qaeda in Iraq. Reuters reports in their article, “Outgunned Syria rebels make shift to bombs,” that rebels have adopted suicide bombing, booby-trapped car bombs and roadside explosions; Joseph Holliday of the US-based Institute for the Study of War adds “There’s no question that a lot of Syrians fought with al Qaeda elements in Iraq [against the United States] and it’s likely that many rebels today learned bombing skills fighting there” .
While the editorial policy of The New York Times permits the publication of pieces such as the ostentatiously titled “Assad, the Butcher,” which incongruously accuses the foreign ministries of Russia and China of living in a “fantasy world” before calling on those nations to receive “comprehensive punishments” for being complicit in “more than 12,000 Syrian deaths,” the Western and Gulf capitals’ strategy of arming militant opposition forces and extremist groups has worked to foment atrocities and further enflame regional sectarian tension, invalidating any attempt to abide by Kofi Annan’s Peace Plan . Publications released by The Brookings Institution, a US think-tank noted for its influence on American foreign policy, provides further insight into the nature of Washington’s objectives in Syria. Brookings’ March 2012 Middle East Memo titled “Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change,” is a testament to the underlying politicization of the “Responsibility to Protect” in Syria, as atrocities are orchestrated as a pretext to protect civilians, to warrant toppling the Syrian government and furthering Washington’s geopolitical objectives in the region.
While Hilary Clinton and others pay lip service to supporting the ceasefire proposed by the Annan Plan, Brookings’ advisers suggest Washington “pin down the Asad regime and bleed it, keeping a regional adversary weak, while avoiding the costs of direct intervention” . The US continues pressuring neighboring countries like Jordan and Turkey to provide support for the militant Syrian opposition, “These allies would have to provide secure bases for the opposition on Syria’s borders, protected by their own armed forces. Their militaries could do much of the arming and training, in conjunction with the United States. Area intelligence services, perhaps including Israel’s, could also work behind the scenes to undermine Asad’s regime and bolster the opposition” . Brookings’ Memo highlights Washington’s commitment to overthrowing the Syrian government using the most cost-effect means possible, “the hope is that the United States could fight a ‘clean’ war from 10,000 feet and leave the dirty work on the ground to the Free Syrian Army, perhaps even obviating a massive commitment to Iraq-style nation-building” .
The toppling of the Assad government would offer the United States and its allies in Tel Aviv and Riyadh substantial strategic advantages, as the underlying object of supporting insurgent activity against Damascus is to undermine Iranian influence in the Arab world. Syria under Bashar al-Assad is the fundamental channel that links Hezbollah with Iran, serving as a transit point for conducting training operations and distributing material assistance to the Palestinian resistance. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has theorized that the toppling of Assad would “be a major blow to the radical axis [Syria, Iran, Hezbollah] and a major blow to Iran. It’s the only kind of outpost of Iranian influence in the Arab world and it will weaken dramatically both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza” . Although Syria’s opposition in power after the downfall of Assad would be a compliant entity to the foreign powers supporting it, the SNC would likely be unable to conjure the political leverage needed to enforce order, and heinous violations of human rights would no doubt occur under it; if Salafist elements were able to usurp authority, Syria’s Alawite, Druze and Christian populations would likely be subject to sectarian violence and persecution.
Israel can potentially reap significant gains from regime change in Syria by working to reduce Iran’s influence in the region and by increasing its commercial exploits in Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, which supplies one-third of Israel’s water supply  and holds an estimated $24 million in oil and gas reserves . Over time, resistance movements in Lebanon and occupied Palestinian territories may be unable to defend their territory without outside support, allowing the Netanyahu government to more effectively pursue its aspirations to create a “Greater Israel”. Saudi Arabia is motivated by the prospect of becoming a dominant regional power and the ideological aspirations of quelling the expansion of Shia identity through neutralizing the governments of Tehran and Damascus, as adherents to Sunni Islam recognize Alawites as part of the Shia sect. Turkey is also determined to increase its influence in the region and possibly expand its territory by annexing northern regions of Syria under appropriate circumstances.
Certain steps can be taken by the international community to ease tensions at the administrative and grassroots levels, namely by encouraging direct talks with between Bashar al-Assad and representatives of all internal opposition organizations, including members of the Free Syrian Army, the Syrian National Council, the Muslim Brotherhood and the National Coordination Committee, a coalition of left-leaning political parties staunchly opposed to foreign intervention . Although both the opposition and the Syrian government have exercised inappropriate and excessive force indiscriminately throughout the conflict, the government of Bashar al-Assad is the legitimate legal authority in Syria. The Assad government has issued reforms allowing for multi-party competition, the establishment of an independent judiciary, a two-term limit on the presidency and political pluralism through inaugurating a new constitution passed in a referendum held in February 2012. If a ceasefire can be upheld through a power-sharing agreement between representatives of various opposition groups and the current government in Syria, the international community should rightfully encourage such a transition.
Outside forces must be held accountable for engaging in activities that have brought the Syrian crisis to this dismal stage, namely by paying substantial penalties that can be used to temporarily resettle Syrian refugees and fund efforts to secure Syria’s borders. All efforts must be made to transition the Syrian people into a climate of normality, including the removal of economic sanctions. At this crucial stage, the Syrian government should exercise strict curfews to ensure the safety of civilians, making it more difficult for terrorist groups to operate. Even if an agreement can be reached between Bashar al-Assad and representatives of Syria’s various opposition groups, terrorists groups would likely continue to provoke violence for whatever their purpose. Until both the Syrian government and the opposition can unite under the common goal of providing security to the people of Syria, no viable political transitions can be agreed upon.
 Syrian rebels abandon ceasefire, call on UN for no-fly zone, Russia Today, June 4, 2012
 US post-Assad Syria plan: Intervention in the cards? Russia Today, June 7, 2012
 Syria rebels ‘kill 80 soldiers’ in weekend clashes, BBC, June 4, 2012
 Syria rebels say will free Lebanese hostages in new state, Chicago Tribune, June 9, 2012
 Assad says Syria faces “real war” waged from outside, Reuters, June 3, 2012
 Iran: Syrian intervention ‘will be defeated’, Russia Today, June 9, 2012
 The Shabiha: Inside Assad’s death squads, The Telegraph, June 2, 2012
 Abermals Massaker in Syrien, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, June 7, 2012
 Syria: Armed Opposition Groups Committing Abuses, Human Rights Watch, March 20, 2012
 UN mission ‘can’t say who to blame’ in Hama massacre, Russia Today, June 9, 2012
 UN debates Syria amid new demands Assad quits, Russia Today, August 19, 2011
 Annan plan ‘only chance for peace’ but stalled by intervention supporters – Lavrov, Russia Today, June 9, 2012
 Geithner warns Syria of UN action, as Clinton heads to Istanbul to talk strategy with allies, The Associated Press, June 6, 2012
 Clinton: Syria risking civil war, BBC, February 26, 2012
 US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion? Russia Today, December 13, 2011
 Amman allows US to train Syrian rebels on Jordanian soil, PressTV, May 23, 2012
 Mossad, CIA and Blackwater operate in Syria – report, Russia Today, March 7, 2012
 Syrian rebels get influx of arms with gulf neighbors’ money, U.S. coordination, The Washington Post, May 16, 2012
 U.S. admits funding Syrian opposition, CBC News, April 18, 2011
 Outgunned Syria rebels make shift to bombs, Reuters, April 30, 2012
 Assad, the Butcher, The New York Times, June 9, 2012
 Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change, Page 4, The Brookings Institution, March 2012
 Ibid, Page 6, Brookings Institution, March 2012
 Ibid, Page 9, Brookings Institution, March 2012
 Ibid, Page 7, Brookings Institution, March 2012
 Ibid, Page 9, Brookings Institution, March 2012
 AMANPOUR. Latest full-length edition: Ehud Barak, CNN, April 20, 2012
 Shouting in the hills, Al-Ahram, June 2008
 Netanyahu Approves Oil Drilling In Golan Heights, AP, October 25, 1996
 Meet Syria’s Opposition, Foreign Policy, November 2, 2011
Source: Nile Bowie