Syria Ablaze Again and Spreading, Geneva Meeting Meets Russian Intransigence: Another Fig Leaf, but a Solution Must Now Be Found Soon!

As predicted, the Syrian civil war (that is what it is) continues unabated with increased killings as some 100 people are dead even as the Geneva meeting took place.

The not really new and flawed Kofi Annan proposal for a Syrian transition was met with adamant opposition by Assad as the regime rejected any outside influence and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov stated that there was no requirement that Assad step down…….a stance that only permits more unrestrained killings. 

It seems now that Russia will not play a constructive role in Syria at least for the foreseeable future.  With arms supplies from Russia reported, it seems we will not see any early abatement in the carnage. This stance can’t but have wider repercussions for Russia in the Middle East and for its role as a responsible global player.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had harsh words for their stance and said Assad will still have to go. But not a word was said on actually making it happen.  Inevitably as the deaths rise and the conflict spreads the determination to find a solution will increase.

The inaction by outside powers has created a stalemate that will inevitably end in unneeded bloodshed, perhaps with one side triumphant over the other but ultimately over the bodies of their own citizens. This result will create conditions for future conflict and be a catalyst for hatred spreading throughout the Middle East.  Egypt’s new President gave rhetorical support to stopping the bloodshed but not much more.

Massacres are not the way to reach a political solution and the clear signal that the international community will not intervene only encourages more bloodshed by Assad.  The bet is he will not win in the end, but the real question is how long this process will take and how many will be butchered before the civil war ends.

At the moment, the United Nations, NATO, the Arab league, and Turkey are not willing to act directly to put a stop to the killing. Some countries are providing arms to the rebels, others as noted are doing the same to the Assad regime. This inaction will only further the mass carnage.

What is needed is an immediate call for a cease fire and a large peacekeeping intervention as well as humanitarian assistance that is protected by the international community. Additionally, it is necessary to put in place zones of protection and a “no fly zone” at least over key border areas of Syria, which means taking out Syrian air defenses and airfields. Only NATO has these capabilities, with Turkey and some other Arab countries, playing the major role on the ground.  The Syrian-Turkish confrontation adds further uncertainty and instability to the equation of the Syrian conflict and the region.

This peacekeeping force should be empowered to prevent sectarian conflict and reprisals.  They should help with the establishment of a transitional government of all groups dedicated to establishing a secure and peaceful new democratic government. The Syrians need to get their act together to this end and end their divisions. But the healing will take a very long time as the Kosovo example has shown.

We welcome your comments!

For more information on Syria, take a look at the Final Communique by the Action Group for Syria, posted in our Full Text Pieces Page!

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