The price tag for helping the Muslim Brotherhood take over Syria is in and it looks rather hefty. The numbers come from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey and they aren’t exactly encouraging.
Gen Dempsey said training the rebels in tactics and weapons usage would cost $500 million (£325 million) a year and could require “several thousand” US troops on the ground which also risked inadvertent association with war crimes as the conflict descended into cycles of revenge.
The next level would be “limited stand-off strikes” to degrade the Assad military, but Gen Dempsey said these would require “hundreds of aircraft, ships, submarines, and other enablers” with the costs running into billions and the risk of scattering Assad’s forces.
Establishing a no-fly zone over Syria — a popular course among those advocating intervention — would cost $1 billion a month, he wrote, and would risk US aircraft while potentially doing little to degrade Assad forces which relies “overwhelmingly” on mortars, artillery and other surface weapons.
Creating a buffer zone for training rebel forces in Jordan or Turkey would also cost $1 billion a month and while improving rebel military capabilities risked refugee camps coming under retaliator shell fire while creating potential bases for extremists groups like the al-Qaeda linked Nusra Front.
Lastly, efforts to control chemical weapons, including commando raids by “thousands of special operations forces” would also require establishing a no-fly zone and cost billions more but, even then would control “some, but not all” of the Assad regime’s “massive” stockpiles of chemical weapons.
So to summarize, getting involved in Syria will be very expensive and very messy. And that comes from a guy who has been willing to toe Obama’s line. And all this is being proposed with a military that was already slashed to the bone.