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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thoughts On Syria

2 years ago I wrote to my MP to question why we hadn’t intervened in Syria, like we did in Libya, when Assad started to slaughter and torture his own people.

We did nothing, mostly because of Russia and China who are afraid of similarly authoritarian regimes being challenged and overthrown.  Yet this man is vile and evil.

So as a humanitarian, I had my answer as to how many people it is ok to kill – over 100,000.  Include over 1 million refugees, the minor use of chemical weapons and countless injured and that apparently until this weekend just gone was perfectly acceptable.

This is not the only human tragedy of recent times that has gone unanswered by those able to assist – Darfur, North Korea and Rwanda are particular stains on the human conscience as far as I am concerned.

There are occasions when we have taken action and stopped atrocities, such as Libya, Kosovo and Sierra Leone, and done significant good to countries.  However foremost at many people’s mind will be the bloodshed in Iraq where we inadvertently initiated a civil war, along with those deaths our previous government and leaders should take responsibility for.

The time to act was 2 years ago.  Now it is a total mess with several simultaneous wars – Sunni vs Shia, Iran and Hezbollah on one side, secularists on the other, Islamists backed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and Russia’s little arms business – not to mention their Mediterranean port which they are very fond of.

As far as I am concerned, the question is – is it ok for Assad to continue to barbarically kill his own people?  And are we happy for other potentially murderous regimes to believe they have a green light to butcher their citizens?

There are definitely risks in acting - amongst those that come to mind are Islamists taking over Syria, revenge attacks on Israel or other western targets, further and widespread use of chemical weapons and that particularly cold saying “collateral damage”.

I am still for action - as a humanitarian I believe in saving lives.  Though due to the added complications, I believe in only limited action – that of destroying missile systems, destroying military planes and helicopters – any potential delivery systems for chemical weapons.  If we can seize said chemicals then that would be ideal.

No all-out war, no regime change, no fighting the Syrian infantry, tank brigades, etc.

I would also love to see a protected humanitarian corridor, where refugees can flee safely, without the fair of further violence.  Added to that, further assistance in the way of aid, particularly to countries with large amounts of refugees such as Jordan.

I still believe there is the potential for a negotiated solution, and perhaps Assad may come to the table if and when he feels under threat.  We should not publicly reject the possibility of regime change as Assad needs to believe that his days could be numbered.  At the moment he believes in his invincibility and has the criminal state of Russia backing him covertly, along with other aforementioned actors.

My solution is that the country splits into 4.  The west becomes an Alawite state, headed by Assad.  The Kurdish areas have their own independent state, along with a separate state for secularists and yes, Islamists.

Can you suggest any other solution except continued slaughter?