Why Not Syria?
"Why Not Syria?"
This was a hot topic of conversation at the Paris Air Show where I have been this week.
As the civilian body-count mounts in
, I am puzzled by the lack of international action, or even effective condemnation. Syria
The international community was caught totally unprepared for the events of historical magnitude which have rolled across the Arab world during “The Arab Spring”.
The self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, a sole unemployed student demonstrator in
Tunisia in December 2010 led to mass demonstrations which successively toppled regimes in both Tunisia (President Ben Ali) and (Hosni Mubarak). Egypt
Still hanging by a thread are the dictators of
Libya (Muammar Gaddafi) and (Ali Abdullah Saleh). Yemen
In only one of these cases did the international community make any difference.
On 17 March, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 was adopted, authorising a no-fly zone over
, and "all necessary measures" to protect civilians. Libya
Two days later,
France, the United States and the United Kingdom intervened in with a bombing campaign against pro-Gaddafi forces. A coalition of 27 states from Europe and the Libya Middle East soon joined the intervention. The forces were driven back from the outskirts of Benghazi, and the rebels mounted an offensive, capturing scores of towns across the coast of . Libya
However, this is proving to be quite financially costly, and has highlighted less than overwhelming performance by NATO. Only a third of NATO countries are participating in the bombing mission, and three months later, the eccentric dictator is still alive and is firmly holding power in
The active NATO participants are already hearing political rumbles at home, about the financial costs of the campaign (in the
UK the cost has been estimated at ₤250m; in the USA at $1 Billion; in at $126 million…) - in a time of wobbly economies and already shrinking defence budgets. France
Meantime, back in
, Bashar Assad has sent tanks, helicopters and ground troops to stamp out demonstrations. With over 1100 civilians reportedly killed by Government forces, and tens of thousands arrested and/or “disappeared”, and around 10,000 refugees flowing into Turkey for safety, it looks likes a human rights violation on a huge scale. Syria
So where is the UN; where is NATO?
Also, the EU and the
expressed condemnation and have imposed some (mild) sanctions – but they are a long way from physically intervening to stop the bloodbath. USA
The UN Security Council is being blocked from issuing any condemnation with teeth, by
Russia and . These countries, which both hold veto, are reported to now regret supporting the intervention in China . Apparently they never understood “protecting civilians” to be giving a green light for a NATO bombing campaign. Libya
And even if this
Russia + China obstacle could somehow be by-passed or overcome at the UN, there seems little enthusiasm by anyone to take military action against . Syria
One recalls that the
USA exhausted themselves, politically and militarily, invading Iraq, deposing Saddam Hussain, and then mopping up the vast mess thereafter - and so found themselves unwilling or unable to take any actions against the Iranian nuclear threat.
Similarly here, I suggest the Libyan campaign has disabled the West from taking appropriate military action in
Turkey, which has invested vast political capital in warming their relations with Syria over the past few years, has been the closest to taking firm steps against . Syria
Prompted by the refugee flow from
Syria into south eastern , the Turkish army is reported to be massing on the border, facing off against the Syrian army. There are open discussions in the Turkish press about Turkish troops establishing a safe corridor in Turkey itself for civilians. Syria
One hopes that the West is, at least, running clandestine missions to practically aid the forces for democracy in
. This would somewhat counter the Iranian assistance of the Syrians, and would mirror the initial involvement of British, French and Syria special forces (“advisors”) to assist the Libyan rebels in the early days of the civil war. US
This having been said, any way you paint it, the public display of impotence by the international community in the face of vast human rights abuse in
, has been universal. Syria
Where is the outrage? Where is the will to protect unarmed civilians from murder and tyranny by the well equipped and ruthless Syrian army?