‘Eager Lion’… An alternative to military intervention

تم نشره في Sun 25 May / May 2014. 06:28 PM

By Fahed Khitan

Media in the Arab world during the last two years continued to link the Jordan-US military exercise "Eager Lion" with the ongoing developments in Syria. Last year, specifically, some reports said the exercise that involves more than twenty countries is merely a cover for US military intervention in Syria.

Of course, this intervention did not happen, the exercise ended, and forces of the participating countries left Jordan, leaving only hundreds of American soldiers under a defense cooperation agreement between the Jordan and the US, in addition to pilots of an F-16 squadron, and some units specialized in chemical warfare.

The Eager Lion exercise started on Sunday, and the new expectations of the media are completely different from what it was in the past; it is no longer linking between them and the situation in Syria,  and maybe the direct cause is that everyone is convinced, after the maneuvers during the past three years, that what is happening is actually just another military exercises.

But there is a reason of no lesser importance, that is the general feeling that military intervention in Syria is no longer an option on the agenda of the Western powers, and the United States in particular.

The most that can be expected from the US administration at this time is to provide the moderate Syrian opposition with quality weapons; anti-tank missiles and others that can repel attacks by fighter aircraft. This was the most Syrian opposition leader Ahmad Jarba wished for during his recent visit to Washington.

Jarba received nothing but promises, and some within the diplomatic community are skeptical of handing the opposition these kinds of weapons, though, and if they do give the opposition these kinds of weapons they will not change much in the balance of power on the ground. France, for its part, seems encouraged to arm Syrian opposition more than the U.S. administration, but its capabilities are limited compared with the United States.

If you look at the Eager Lion this year, you will see it focusing on strengthening the capacity of the participating forces to face the fallout from the war in Syria, such as facing terrorist groups, management of humanitarian crises, and the coordination of relief operations without the slightest interest in incursions or chemical weapons; two topics that last year's drill was focused on, before the international resolution which was approved by the Syrian regime, ruling to destroy stocks of banned weapons in Syria, which is what actually happened.

Eager Lion is a living example that the United States is only planning military exercises in the region, and does not intend to use live ammunition, as it did in Iraq.



This article is an edited translation from the Arabic edition.