The US loses its moral high ground over Syria
TRAGHIDA DERGHAM he White House looked weak as it defended Presi dent Obama’s policies in Syria, in response to the strongly worded memorandum sent by 51 US diplomats calling for the “calculated use” of long-range weapons and airstrikes against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, arguing that the “status quo in Syria will continue to present increasingly dire, if not disastrous, humanitarian, diplomatic and terrorism-related challenges.”
The moral rationale for taking steps to end the deaths and suffering in Syria, after five years of brutal war, is evident and unquestionable, the memo said. The memo’s harsh tone and allusion to “the moral rationale” compelled the White House to go on the defensive, raising impossible questions to justify its policies. The White House asked “what was the alternative” or “show us another option”, phrases that seem to be at the heart of the Obama doctrine and the lexicon of the administration.
The White House’s message is clear and unchanged: The White House will not intervene militarily against the regime in Damascus. Its main battle today is against the ISIS and not Bashar al-Assad. Therefore, the Obama administration is trying to wash its hands clean of the moderate Syrian rebels represented by the High Negotiations Commission (HNC), and implicitly agrees with Russia on replacing the rebels with Kurdish and tribal forces on the ground that make up the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting ISIS primarily rather than the regime.
This trend coincides with international inaction in the Security Council and the UN at large, where the Syrian question has been effectively reduced to one of refugees and humanitarian crisis requiring focus on the delivery of aid, away from political considerations and accountability for the crimes and atrocities being committed in Syria. The Geneva Communique that spoke of a transitional process handing over full executive power to a new governing council has been aborted. The Vienna Process
The Vienna Process midwifed by Russia has fulfilled its objectives and stopped where Moscow wanted it to. The members of the Security Council have retreated into empty statements and bowed down to the dictates of Russian-Iranian policies without a “Plan B”. The UN secretary general swallowed his words about seeking accountability, and submitted to the will of the RussianAmerican duo with regard to managing the Syrian tragedy without protesting.
Thus the UN lost its moral leadership by relinquishing the principle of accountability and its values. It accepted to be the blunt instrument by which the Geneva Communique was bashed, and hid behind its weakness when another deadline for a political process (August 1) approached, on which the UN is supposed to launch a political process albeit less firm than the one launched by the Geneva Communique. Its only excuse is that the US and Russian leaderships had had long lost their moral compass in Syria before the UN followed suit.
From the beginning, it was clear that prolonging this military approach without accountability, while using terrorism as a pretext to avoid reform, would lead to the growth of more terrorism in Syria.
This week, the number of refugees and displaced persons in the world reached 65 million. Syria has a large share of this figure with more than 10 million refugees and displaced persons. The UN has long since stopped counting the number of those killed in Syria, but unofficial estimates put the number at over 400,000, all killed in just five years, since protests demanding reforms erupted in Syria, before the regime decided to respond with a brutal military crackdown.
From the beginning, it was clear that prolonging this military approach without accountability, while using terrorism as a pretext to avoid reform, would lead to the growth of more terrorism in Syria at the hands of both the regime and its opponents, as well as those who decided to turn Syria into a magnet for terrorists to drive them out of their own countries – i.e. away from US, Russian, and other cities. When it comes to involvement in Syria, no one at all is innocent.
The failure of this line of thinking became clear, however, as terror attacks struck Europe and the US, and could strike Russia at some point. Now, however, US, Russian, and European leaders believe the priority is for war on ISIS in Syria and Iraq. It was in Iraq where terrorists were lured away from US cities, as then-President Bush had suggested.—Courtesy: AA