Both the UN and Al-Assad are the Enemies of the Syrian People

We have today witnessed the first cracks from within the core of the ruling Ba’ath party in Syria, with the resignation of the deputy oil & mineral wealth minister Abdo Hussameddin. More importantly, he has not merely resigned because of the regime’s brutal oppression of the rebels, he has chosen to side with the revolutionary forces in their cause and questioned the legitimacy of a regime whose grip on power can only be maintained by overwhelming force and even reported massacres of dissidents.

The significance of this action remains to be seen. Will we see a domino effect of Al-Assad opponents from within the regime switching sides? Or will the inevitable destruction of Abdo Hussameddin’s property and persecution of his family be enough to keep quiet any dissenting voices within the party?

As yet, all those switching sides have been from within the armed forces, mostly from lower ranks, the political power base has remained steadfast in its opposition to the popular uprising seen in some cities. In the Arab and North African regimes that have fallen so far; Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, the regimes found it difficult to maintain internal support from ministers and the military, handing the revolutionary forces priceless political capital and legitimacy in the eyes of the external world. If those closest to the leader desert, it becomes near impossible for any outside observer to remain neutral in a civil or revolutionary war. A dictator who can only rely on the support of his overpaid generals cannot be granted any degree of legitimacy by the world when an active opposition movement is in progress. This is why the latest political development in Syria could prove to be so significant. Without the internal support from his party, the backing given to Al-Assad from the permanent UN Security Council members of China & Russia becomes ever more farcical. For now, they can hide behind the maxims of ‘stability’, ‘security’ and ‘opposition to regime change’, safe in the knowledge that, having learnt painful lessons in Iraq and Afghanistan, both Nato and the Arab League have no desire for active military intervention in a country with a strong, if hugely unpopular, governing regime and no stable political opposition.

It remains one of the aspects of modern humanity that I find most abhorrent. Our inability to act in a supportive, coherent manner to stop known acts of genocide in foreign countries is, for me, evidence of how far humanity has to left to go before we can call ourselves truly humane. Be it in Rwanda, Chechnya, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sudan, Sierra Leone or Syria, the facts that those affected are ‘not like us’ or ‘far away’ has no bearing on the suffering endured. This is not the middle of the 20th century, no-one in the outside world knew of the atrocities committed in German death camps during WW2 or the forced labour camps in Kampuchea (Cambodia) until well after the events, there was no opportunity to prevent them in action. Now the information and communication technology exists to make the world aware of what is happening almost instantaneously. Even when the incumbent government shuts down communication networks, getting an arresting grip on the slippery multi media messages coming out from any conflict zone is now impossible, some will always squeeze out. To what end? So politicians can sit around for months debating ‘sanctions’ and ‘non-lethal aid’ or ‘peace-keeping missions’. Even these insipid measures take months if not years to occur, yet when they do they achieve nothing. The records are littered with cases of victims being murdered in clear view of UN soldiers with no fear of reprisal because of the pathetic terms of engagement given to the soldiers, in some cases not even allowed to return fire when engaged.

Please don’t mistake me for a war-monger. I am always opposed to unnecessary military conflict, it is the inability of the international community to reach a consensus on a positive course of action that I find so frustrating. It is clear to all what is wrong, we all know it must be stopped. It is not so much the wrong action we need be so scared of, no action in these instances is the worst course. Iraq is not to be seen in this way, Saddam Hussein was, despite his reputation, not in the active process of eliminating whole sections of society opposed to his rule. He may have been portrayed as a threat to democracy but this was not, in my opinion, enough to justify his removal.

I do not want any military intervention in Syria but I do think the international community could do far more to prevent further violence. It is understandable that China & Russia would want to stop the UN preventing the brutal oppression of a dissenting of rebellious movement, after all they want to be able to continue to do the same to their own domestic opposition. It is the construct of the UN Security Council that is to blame. Too much emphasis is placed in universal consensus and power invested in vetoes by the permanent members. One of the purposes of the UN is to prevent rogue states from doing as they please without repercussions. If a dictator knows that getting China or Russia onside grants you the equivalent of immunity from prosecution, why would they worry? It is the overly hierarchical bureaucracy of the UN that slows its effectiveness, it is democratic compromise rather than universal endorsement or veto that will affect a solution to worldwide problems.

None of what I write can help the people suffering on the ground in Syria, my blogging is just another part of the diplomatic waffling that only serves to lengthen the process of helping the victims. Until people start to realise that not only are all the people of the world deserving of a basic standard of living, that not only should the leaders of other countries opinions be equal but also that their own opinion is of no more import than that of any others will the principles behind the founding of the UN be truly implementable.

Hopefully, the Al-Assad regime will realise the futility of their current position and start a strategic withdrawal from power without foreign military intervention but I fear there will be much more blood spilt before then. This blood will be on the hands of all politicians and political lobbyists around the world who believe that their opinion is, because of their financial or military power, more valid than any others who disagree.

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.

 Voltaire

Thanks for reading

Rowan

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