USA Today.com had an article “As Syrian Rebels advance, intervention holds promise” (http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/story/2012-08-13/syria-rebels-us-intervention/57039798/1). The world has been watching events unfold in Syria and for the most part that is exactly what they have been doing - watching. Just as with Libya, the temptation to intervene on the side of ‘the people’ has been resisted by the world community.
According to the article while the President “has resisted calls for military intervention…” Secretary of State Clinton “said over the weekend that the U.S. is discussing several options, including establishing a no-fly zone, with Syria’s neighbor Turkey.” The no-fly zone tends to favor the rebels since the “Assad’s forces seem to have stepped up the use of helicopters and attack jets recently” the article states.
What does all this mean to the influence war? The first thing I did was take a look at the balance of urban versus rural. According to Nationmaster.com it’s a 50/50 split (http://www.nationmaster.com/country/sy-syria/peo-people). This would bode well for the use of traditional media and the Internet as the means of influence. If it were me, my approach would be a combination of mass messaging and targeted. First and foremost I would single out those who are on the fence and might be induced to defect or support the anti-government forces. Once they were identified I would do a social network analysis and determine linkages.
From a targeted perspective I would employ mobile phones as the delivery vehicle. Part of my strategy would also be to provide video and graphic content to a variety of sources that would show the government’s unconscionable acts and balance that with content showing successes of the rebels and support by the people.
Clearly the White House and the State Department are the driving forces at this point in time. The mere fact that Secretary Clinton is making public statements is a strong indication that other actions, often those behind the scenes activities which have become a hallmark of her management style, are also under way.
MISO at varying levels from no fly zone through ground engagement ought to be at least templated, perhaps based on the Libyan scenario.
One of the interesting aspects of a career in MISO is that as Gilda Radner, the famous comedian once said, “there’s always something”.
Photo Source: By Khalil Hamra, APSyrian men inspect a hole allegedly made during an airstrike by government forces in the town of Marea, Syria, on Monday.
USA Today article referenced above.