"What they need is to have the Russians and Iranians pay a little price. When we were in Iraq, the Iranians were giving weapons to the Shia militia, who were killing American soldiers, right? The Iranians were making us pay a price. We need to make the Iranians pay a price in Syria. We need to make the Russians pay a price." - Former CIA Director Michael Morell.As much some people hate to admit it, the former CIA director made a good point. The only way to make the hawkish leaderships of Russia and Iran listen to the genuine demands of the Syrian people for freedom and democracy and remove their unconditional support for Assad is to experience popular anger against their involvement in the Syria war back home.
That has not happened so far. Very few Russians and Iranians have died in Syria as a result of their leaders' foolish policy to protect Assad's regime at all costs.
The same is true for countries like Turkey, America, Israel, and Saudi Arabia whose equally foolish governments continue to fund, train, and arm ISIS at the expense of the peace and security of the Syrian people.
Have there been any anti-war protests in American, Iranian, Russian, Turkish, Israeli, and Saudi cities? No. They don't give a damn.
The reason is because the dictatorial governments and state-owned media in these countries run a tight ship and do not want people to voice their anti-war sentiment.
Protests in Turkey were attacked by ISIS under the instruction of the Turkish state a few years ago. And no doubt these other governments would act in a similarly violent manner, but perhaps not as brutally, if their citizens decided to engage in anti-war protests.
Instead of facing popular backlash for his decision to intervene in Syria, Putin is bragging about his military successes to his people, saying that Russia is back to its old military glory, and exercising its muscle on the world stage.
And in Iran there is very little public knowledge of the war in Syria. Since the issue of Syria is rarely mentioned by its leaders the Iranian people do not have a proper understanding of the war and the arrogant nature of Assad's regime. And when it is mentioned only briefly it is always put in the context of the regime's support for Hezbollah and the Palestinian resistance, or protecting the Shiite shrines in Syria which seem to be located on every block in every strategic city.
Just as American losses in Vietnam and Iraq helped to end public support for those wars, the needless war in Syria won't end until Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia, Israel, America, and Turkey all experience the harmful effects of their pro-war policies.
Countries that start wars or help sustain them need to pay a military and economic price. The former CIA director was simply pointing that out.
That is why the advances by the Houthi-led coalition in Yemen have been encouraging to see. Saudi Arabia needs to experience blowback for its beligerence against its neighbouring country. It must understand that pursuing war in Yemen and regiomally is not in its interests.
America, Russia, Turkey, and Iran must also come to the realization that compromise in Syria is the only path to peace.