by Jean-Jacques COURTEY, Doctor in Economic Geography, Ph. D
Damas is the eldest capital in the world (at least 2 500 years).
So it existed when AMS (symbolizing "Ain-Mim-Sïn" or Sky-Sun-Moon), the Alaouit God of Bachar el-Assad (born in 1965), may have been in the center of a very old and pre-coranic cult.
The name of Alaouit means "worshipper of Ali", the son-in-law of Mohamed, equalilly venerated by the Chiites.
As a matter of fact, the religious dimension is quite actual in the present civil war : Bachar el-Assad is very logically supported by the Chiite Iran, against the Rebels mostly Sunnites with the exception of a few Christians. Sunnites are divided themselves at least in two divergent factions, depending on their foreign support, either Saudi Arabian or Qatari. And above that, there is most likely another faction, connected to Al Qaida. So the rebels are not as united as shown in the West, especially since the Qatari supported Muslim Brothers lost the last internal election on July 6th, 2013, in front of the Saudi Arabian supported one, Ahmad al-Assi al-Jarba (born in 1969). He is thus the new president of the NSC (National Syrian Coalition).
Until some extend, a comparison can be usefully made with what happened in Egypt during the same period.
And to complicate still more this entangled situation, there is a question mark about the destiny of the Christian Oriental community protected partly by the Russians, and partly by Bachar el-Assad . They practise a Christianism of the origins, which is very near the one of Jesus Christ.
So things are not as simple as a civil war between a "tyrant" and supposed "democrats". Everybody guesses that after el-Assad, if he was falling, another dictatorship would very probably replace his.
Thus, combats in Syria are not only for freedom, but also for survival on every side !
The Syrian regime has got a lot of Russian armaments.
Until now, in the Arab world, no country dared to engage its war aircrafts against a military campaign of the West.
Neither Saddam Hussein (1937-2006) during the two Iraqi wars (1990-1991 and 2003-2004), nor more recently Muammar Gaddafhi (1942-2011) while the recent Libyan one (2011) did it : consequently, they lost rather quickly and died in a awful way for both of them.
Will Syria claiming to have "unexpected means of defense", respond differently : who knows ?!
The period of August and the beginning of September brought already two world wars : the Ist World War (August 3rd, 1914), and the IInd World War (September 3rd, 1939).
As this year was unusual for the climate, a silent but heavy atmosphere is weighing on people shoulders, and not only over their heads.
They have difficulty to keep calm and cool down, in order to avoid catastrophic initiatives.
The specialists think the world will be the same eight days after the Western "surgical" strikes on the Syrian Ministry of Defense and chemical targets. But it could be a vision of the spirit.
We could have entered nolens volens into the unknown domain of the "Grey Universe", with the rise of the "Grey State" (state with reduced freedom and expanded dependency, but not directly totalitarian, fear seeming to be sufficient).
To stop war escaliation inside Syria, is it the best to escalate to war against Syria ?
Almost everybody underestimates the risk of fire in the region and in the world, not only because of the involvement of Iran and Israel, but also because of Russia.
In France nobody was talking of a danger of possible "mini" World War when UK, USA, and France might have been involved in an uncontrollable conflict with the Russian ally of Syria.
A crawling chaos and an unsaid "mini" World War could have suddenly burst out as a furious naja, if the MPs of UK didn't vote against this punishing war towards Syria on last August 29th.
Of course, the risk is not yet totally over !
Americans, on their side, decided to ask also the Congress to vote next week about this potential war against Syria : the Congress voting process will start next September 9th. But we musn't forget that Americans are more sensitive to the Bible argument and warning than France. Above that, the Congress will demand clear and undubitable evidences against Bachar el-Assad (a bit like Russia), if not against an ignored dissident and provocative faction.
Strangely, if America was voting against the war, France would be totally left alone and isolated, and then obliged to totally move back of its pro-war-positions. The maneuver of bypassing the Russian and Chinese vetos in UN would have lasted long. But perhaps is it better, if France wants to keep itself its veto-right and special status amongst the five Great Powers of the Council of Security ?
Even a vote isn't not required for the declaration of war by the article 35 of the French Constitution to make a parallel, many French MPs and Senators would have liked to vote. In France, a Republican Monarchy, the Parliament hasn't got this prerogative constitutionally, even 74% of French people would also like a vote on this question. It is just informed by the Government about it, and a debate is possible, but without vote. It's only if the war was lasting more than four months that the Parliament would have to give its authorization. Nevertheless, the people against this war represent at least 64% of the population, according to the most recent poll. And the French President may finally agree to such an exceptional vote engaging the future, if the American Congress was unexpectedly voting yes to the war.
On their side, the UN experts who may take at least three weeks to deliver their subtle results and evidences - the countdown started last saturday when they left Damas -, are probably taking their time to try apeasing the risks of Western military involvement. The problem is that normally, they will be unable to tell who used eventually chemical weapons : with all their samplings and takings on victims in the suburbs of Damas, they will just be able to determine if those massive destruction weapons were used, and to say which type they were.
Anyhow, we will know what is following exactly, only after the present G20 Summit, in Saint Petersburgh (Russia), held on September 5th and 6th, 2013. It involves aside, some bilateral Russian-Chinese talks, and unexpectedly today a missive of the Pope Francis himself (born in 1936) to Vladimir Putin (born in 1952), as the key world leader to help solving skillfully, humanly and diplomatically the situation in Syria - with the maintenance of peace in this area due to the Russian presence. The missive includes noticeably an important passage concerning the protection of Oriental Christians in Syria, to the only one who can do it.
To speak clearly, the situation would become less hot and dangerous for the world peace, if the American Congress was voting against the war.
As a matter of fact, we musn't underestimate the reactions of Russia, ally and supporter of Syria, with a naval basis in the big Harbour of Tartous (Center-West coast of Syria, not far from the Northern border of Lebanon), in this power and war...or finally peace game.
Everybody is paying attention to the five American destroyers and the French frigate "Chevalier Paul", which are not dinky toys. But they also should realize about the reinforcement of the Russian fleet in Mediterranea : a cruiser-missile launcher (armed of six ranges of missiles more powerful and speedy than Katiouchas, at mach 3.5) has effectively arrived from the Russian basis of Sebastopol (Crimea, Ukraine), getting along with a nuclear submarine armed of bubble torpedoes (400 km/h).
Observers should too, take more notice of the capacities of Russian Warplanes, more modern than the already dreadful 60 Mig-29 of Bachar el-Assad. If Westerners intend to think el-Assad wouldn't engage his strong aircrafts (why ?), the Russian determination could make the difference.
Its destiny of Superpower in front of America and in the world is in game, notwithstanding its remaining influence in the Middle East.
So a funny ballet of Mikoyan-Gurevich (Mig-35) or of Sukhoï-35, in the North Eastern skies of Mediterranea Sea would be quite possible.
Even the old Mig-29 nicknamed "Fulcrum" by NATO (mach 1.99 officially) is able to make the incredible figures of the "Pugachev Cobra" or the "Kubit" (somersault), when only some American planes can do the first one, and no French plane (including the 6 Rafales based in Abu Dhabi, - mach 2.2) neither of them without dropping out and crashing.
To be more thrilling, let's add that the Korean armistice (1953) dividing Korea in two was due to the impossibility for the USA to win North Korea, armed of the already terrible and unpredictable Mig-15 with its incredible accelerations.
Those recent years, America has bought discretely several Mig-29 from Moldavia, to try to understand their strange "dancing" technology.
De facto, the problem is that in the Syrian fool's game, France is more and more alone. And, in the absence of UK and possibly America, our country wouldn't take the risk to engage a unilateral military action against Syria. It would be too hazardous and daredevil, as more forces (sea and air at least) would be necessary to engage. This would involve a real and very costly war, and not just one or several air strikes, being thus unlikely.
So we would probably not attend aerial fights between Rafale and Mig-29 "Fulcrum".
The only thing known at the moment when comparing those warplanes, both fighters and bombers, is that the first one doesn't allow any mistake in flight, when the second one is so maneuverable and thus dangerous, that it can be compared to an "armed sky-ballerina" for a price of one third. Just what can be seen, is that Rafale is a bit faster and more recent (1986 for the first flight against 1977).
Another point which hasn't been evoked in all its potential consequences is the result of Western missiles striking warehouses of storage of chemical weapons. It wouldn't annihilate the danger represented by the Syrian arsenal of VX gas or Sarin gas, but just spread them in the high atmosphere, after having destroyed any surrounding life, whatever loyalist, rebel or neutral. And this pestilent layer of gas wouldn't stop at the borders of Syria, not to penetrate in Lebanon, in Israel, in Jordan, in Iraq, in Iran, in Turkey, or may be in Cyprus or further, according to the force and the direction of the winds. Even the sailors' lungs and nervous system of the American destroyers or the French frigate offshore, could be unexpectedly affected.
A civil war is always a terrible test for a people, especially when nobody saw it coming, or doesn't even remember how it started. Often a simple droplet of excess can provoke the dislocation of an apparently strong country, like the Syrian one.
But one thing is certain, when you engage on the "way of Damas", a bit like Saül of Tarse did, you may end up to change your name for "Paul", after the coming Revelation, and only God knows if the reverse way is possible !