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Impact of US intervention in Syria

While the US Congress waits it out to vote on the possibility of attacking Syria, the mere thought of such an action has sent shockwaves through the global politics and economy which has soared oil prices. In addition, the conflict between Shia and Sunni Muslims could tear the Middle-East apart and may get more violent as the civil war in Syria persists. Even if the US militarily intervenes in Syria, it can only make the matter worse as no one can predict how it will unfold once the hostility breaks out. It seems Israel can be an unintended victim.


It is estimated that in the event of US intervention in Syria, losses to the global economy could amount to US$ 25 billion in the first four days of the war. US President Barack Obama has pronounced his desire to militarily intervene in Syria after it was learnt that the Assad regime unleashed chemical weapons on anti-regime rebel groups.

Citing national security interests, the Obama administration has publically mulled over how to intervene in Syria. The speculation has sent shockwaves and the repercussions of such an action will be disastrous, and the biggest impact will be on the global economy which is already ruined and facing sluggishness for last four years.

Jitters over Syria have already pushed the prices of Brent Crude to a new high, causing serious economic damages. The global shortfall of oil is estimated at 4 million barrels/day and the world is extremely vulnerable to a supply crunch, especially if the military intervention goes wrong.

The overall situation in the Middle-East is also adding to the existing problems. Production has slumped in Iraq, Nigeria, Libya, Yemen and Syria. Libya is the most affected by the chronic shortfall in oil production.

Lack of state control resulting in reduced oil production is triggering local wars. The sectarian tensions in Iraq are providing possibilities for Sunni militant groups like the Al-Qaeda to attack Iraq’s oil pipeline and the UN sanctions on Iran have drastically reduced its oil exports.

While the extent of damage to the world economy and global oil prices is subject to the extent of intervention US plans to undertake in Syria, the damage is already done, a reason why the US could find it hard to gain international support.

A strike on Syria will only worsen the situation and further destabilize the economy even if the regime is toppled because the economy will anxiously react to an unstable and uncertain situation in Syria. Emerging economies like India and China, which are heavily dependant on oil imports, will be the worst hit, directly affecting the global economy.

Syria is pivotal to the whole region but its war threatens to polarize the entire international community. The intervention will pitch Western countries supporting the US and its Middle-Eastern allies like the Arab Countries, Turkey and Israel directly against regime supporting Syria like Iran and Russia.

The regional situation could worsen as tension in Syria could spread because the West will provide air support and arms to the rebel groups through its allies in the Middle-East and Iran and guerrilla groups like Hezbollah would provide on-ground, weapons, arms and diplomatic and political support to the regime.

Already the war in Syria is influencing other regional issues. The Syrian refugees are adding to the tensions in Turkey while the Kurdists are suffering. Israel is sitting on the edge as Middle-Eastern government’s stand is divided on the future course of action. But the most alarming problem is the increasing divide between the Shia and Sunni.

The sectarian war is turning contagious. The war is no longer about just supporting the opposition or the government. Rather, it has transformed into a Sunni vs. Shia battle.

With Sunni-led Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey backing the uprising against Assad, who is supported by Shiite Iran and Hezbollah, it is the militants like Al-Nusra and Al-Qaeda that are benefitting the most from the sectarian divide, thereby dooming the entire region’s prospects for peace.

Moreover, the Syrian war is fueled by broader antagonisms that are rooted in clashing strategic interests. The regional power struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iran’s confrontation with the West, US’s anger at Russia granting asylum to Snowden, Assad against Israel are all the reasons making Syria an inevitable scapegoat.

Therefore, the end result of such conflicting agendas is the inevitable prolonging of instability politically and economically. Yet, in recent history, US’ intervention proves to be incapable of settling anything. In fact, their physical presence could only make matters worse for the region, just like it did after invading Iraq.