Friday, August 16, 2013

Syrian conflict should be resolved by engaging Al-Bashar and his allie

Syrian conflict should be resolved by engaging Al-Bashar and his allie

Friday 16 August 2013 07:33
OPINION: Abbey Makoe, SABC Political Editor
The UN Council on Human Rights (UNCHR) recently produced a report about the situation in Syria in which an acknowledgement was made to the effect that anti-government rebel forces are using children as soldiers.

That reminded me of the law adopted by the congress back in 2000 - ,,. This important piece of international legislation condemns the use of kids as child-soldiers in military conflicts.

The UN member-states are implored by that Act to take a dim view of countries or groupings which use children in this abominable fashion. Since the beginning of the conflict more than 86 child-soldiers have been killed. Half of them were killed this year alone, implying the intensification in the conflict and the increased vulnerability of children in wars. Furthermore, this means that the rebels themselves have intensified their recruitment of children in combat against the government forces.

I paint the above picture in order to dissuade governments from poor foreign policy decisions which will impact negatively on otherwise good intentions.

For example, methinks that US president Barack Obama’s decision to want to supply Syrian rebels with arms is hugely regrettable in the light of the bigger picture of child-soldiers forced to participate in a war they know very little or nothing about.

Since Washington recognised the , of the Syrian opposition as the sole legitimate representative of the people of Syria, the worrying factor is that it will have to deal with the rebels as though they were a government of the people by the people for the people. Put bluntly, that’s the last thing the American tax-payers would want to see. The US has often come under attack for dubious foreign policy decisions. Iraq comes to mind. Flouting international law is one thing. But to tamper with domestic laws of countries no matter how much Washington disagrees with is simply not advisable.

Unconditional military and material support for the Syrian rebels raises several pertinent questions around global diplomatic relations. In the context of the Act of 2000 alluded to above, should the US be imposing sanctions against the Syrian rebels or providing them with weapons? Granted, not an easy question to answer. But from the theoretical standpoint which decrees that in every war there can be no winners, any act which aids loss of life – intentionally or otherwise – is deplorable.

It is when questionable decisions are made at the highest level that questions such as the following get asked: Are the interests of the American top brass and transnational corporations standing above the interests of common people in Syria, the US and elsewhere? I mean, the US openly taking sides in a virtual civil war is always going to attract criticism from some quarters. I can hear some say the US is supporting terrorists who threaten stability in the whole Middle Eastern region, yet there is no visible reaction from institutions such as the International Criminal Court (ICC). The US Congress itself seems united in its approval of the Obama Administration decision on Syria.

I find this really sad, because the US has the potential to command world-wide respect and admiration, particularly given that it remains a solid super power with meaningful roles to play in international relations.

Having lived and work in the US, I am acutely aware about the great potential that the US holds. But as the saying goes, “poison in the hands of a wise person can turn to medicine, just like medicine in the hands of a fool can turn to poison”. Conflict will always be there, how the powerful deal with it is how history will define their power.

The Syrian war will never be resolved successfully without the constructive engagement of Al-Bashar and his allies such as the Russians, the Chinese and the developing world.

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