The US loses its moral high ground over Syria

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

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

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