Global powers have to stop playing political chess with Syria

Published: November 19, 2013
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PHOTO: REUTERS

It has been quite a while since the people of Syria began to assert their rights and demand freedom from the clutches of dictatorship. However, as time passed things have taken a turn for the worse.

Although the initial uprising was inspired by Syrian neighbours – both, immediate and distant – unfortunately, this simple and just assertion was turned into a global issue by the Big Five countries in the United Nations. These nations played politics at the cost of innocent human lives and even Muslim countries have shown helplessness in stopping the ruthless and continuing massacre of Syrian civilians.

On the one hand is Bashar al-Assad who belongs to a Shia Alawite minority. He derives power from Russia, Iran and China. In addition, Hezbollah is also providing aid to the Syrian forces to restore the writ of the state in areas where rebels hold control. On the other hand, there are countries like the US – the so-called champion of democracy and human rights – and its allies, which include the European Union (EU) countries, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The fact is that the Syrian crisis has become multi-faceted and now includes religious, economic, geographic and, most importantly political and moral factors. Countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran are involved in the pursuit of their own religious agenda. The removal of Bashar al-Assad would mean one less Shiite regime in the Middle East for Saudi Arabia, while Iran and Hezbollah’s efforts to retain Bashar al-Assad aim to ensure the exact opposite.

Moreover, Iran sees a long-term partner in Assad, one which could help them in their own confrontation with the US and Israel on the nuclear debate. Also, Assad enjoys the support of minority communities since he belongs to a minority sect himself; including the Kurdish people residing in Syria and the northern region of Iraq – where they enjoy greater autonomy and could serve as a force for Bashar al-Assad.

Geographically, the location of Syria is such that if the situation is allowed to continue the flame of the consequences will engulf the entire Middle East. War victims have already suffered immensely due to the conflict and life for them has been on a downward spiral for the last two years with rhetorical promises being made by the leaders of different nations. While these poor, war-ravaged souls struggle for survival, decisions are made thousands of miles away to pour in more weapons into the country without a thought given to the fundamental fact that had weapons been the solution to conflicts, then the two World Wars would have resolved every conflict.

The Syrian crisis has once again portrayed how morality is compromised for economical and political gains. Countries that preach human rights have shown numbness when it comes to the war in Syria.

It is apparent that the US and Russia have the most to gain economically from this war since both countries top the list in the export of arms. A considerable number of these exports have been to Middle Eastern countries since the Arab Spring. The US continues to back the rebels militarily despite the fact that some members of fundamentalist organisations have joined the ranks and are pursuing their own narrow agenda in the guise of supporting rebels.

On the other hand, Russia is providing arms to the forces of Bashar al-Assad to crush the rebels and re-establish the might of the state; despite knowing that people are not content with the present form of government and want to have a say in the affairs of the state.

Unfortunately, while the global powers are still busy settling political scores with each other, the homicide in Syria continues unabated.

Going back in history, there should be no doubt that a political and moral solution is required for resolving this conflict. Bashar al-Assad will have to show some flexibility and accommodate the will of the people. This can only be made possible with the support of other countries and international organisations such as the US, Russia, EU, UN, Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), although the deployment of the Arab League envoys has proven futile in spite of their impeccable credentials.

Of course, the pre-requisite to resolving the conflict is a complete ceasefire which can only be achieved if countries stop supplying weapons and Russia convinces Bashar al-Assad to stop the war – similar to the recent occurrence when Russia convinced the Syrian state to surrender chemical weapons and seek a political solution rather than crushing discontent with an iron fist.

It is high time that all the global powers realised that delaying a resolution to the conflict means the loss of innocent human lives each day. Maintaining the status quo would only increase the suffering of innocent souls.

Will the human suffering in Syria end anytime soon?

That is a question that millions in Syria and abroad ask themselves every day. In the end, the global powers have to make a choice between political power and morality.

Let us hope that morality prevails over the ostentatious political prowess of the world’s superpowers.

Aizaz Khokhar

Aizaz Khokhar

A business graduate with a keen interest in domestic and international politics, he also aspires for a position in the Civil Services of Pakistan.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.