Solve the cri­sis on the ground, not in Europe

E DII TO RII A L

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Last week’s dou­ble at­tacks in Beirut and Paris were, per­haps, the wake-up call needed to get the West truly in­ter­ested in the tur­bu­lent Mid­dle East. On the one hand, the French Pres­i­dent de­clared an all­out war on ISIS, on the other hand, large-scale bom­bard­ments will sim­ply ex­ac­er­bate the refugee cri­sis, strain­ing the Euro­pean Union’s tol­er­ance even fur­ther.

In Septem­ber, No­ble lau­re­ate Jef­frey Sachs wrote that the on­go­ing blood­let­ting in Syria is not only the world’s great­est hu­man­i­tar­ian dis­as­ter by far, but also one of its gravest geopo­lit­i­cal risks. “And the United States’ cur­rent ap­proach has failed mis­er­ably. The so­lu­tion to the Syr­ian cri­sis, in­clud­ing the grow­ing refugee cri­sis in Europe, must run through the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.”

Hav­ing num­bered the US se­cu­rity es­tab­lish­ment’s in­ter­na­tional fail­ures in med­dling in af­fairs to top­ple regimes deemed to be harm­ful to Amer­i­can in­ter­ests, Sachs said that this model does not work. “What ap­pears to be a ‘quick fix’ to pro­tect lo­cal pop­u­la­tions and US in­ter­ests of­ten de­volves into chaos, an­ar­chy, civil war, and bur­geon­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian crises, as has hap­pened in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and now Syria. The risks of fail­ure mul­ti­ply when­ever the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil as a whole does not back the mil­i­tary part of the in­ter­ven­tion,” driven by ri­val­ries that date back to the Cold War and Soviet (Rus­sian) ri­val­ries.

In the past month, how­ever, Rus­sia has shown greater re­solve to com­bat ISIS and keep its ally As­sad in power, while Amer­ica’s re­gional al­lies (Saudi Ara­bia, Is­rael, Tur­key) leaned on Pres­i­dent Obama to move on As­sad, each with their own na­tional in­ter­est and covert oper­a­tions, and not the greater good of the re­gion in mind.

Now that Fran­cois Hol­lande seems to have taken the lead where no other Euro­pean leader has so far, there could be a con­sen­sus for a quicker so­lu­tion to the prob­lem in Syria and, by ex­tent, Iraq, be­fore the refugee cri­sis erupts to a vol­cano-level with vast reper­cus­sions on con­ti­nen­tal Europe.

This is where the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Vice Pres­i­dent for for­eign af­fairs Fed­er­ica Mogherini has a chance to show her uni­fy­ing skills, where her pre­de­ces­sor failed mis­er­ably by de­lay­ing any ac­tion or in­volve­ment when the Arab Spring started across north­ern Africa and the Mid­dle East.

In hind­sight, th­ese prob­lems should have been re­solved by en­sur­ing sta­bil­ity and se­cu­rity on the ground, through hu­man­i­tar­ian aid, in­vest­ment, health and ed­u­ca­tion, thus pre­vent­ing the prob­lem of mi­grants grow­ing to the un­con­trolled scale it is to­day.

With Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir stat­ing over the week­end that at least 40 states sup­port ISIS or their ac­tions, di­rectly or in­di­rectly, with some even mem­bers of the G20, it is time for the West to re­alise who is truly on their side and who has been con­ning them all this time. Only then will there be a gen­uine in­ter­est and ef­fort to re­store calm and a “Mid­dle East­ern-type of democ­racy” in Syria and Iraq, which is far from the prin­ci­ples we be­lieve in, but nev­er­the­less the only so­lu­tion pos­si­ble.

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