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Now as thirty-four months ago, on every international and regional news channel you watch, transnational newspaper you read or human rights centered websites you explore, you will find analytical articles condemning the ongoing Syrian bloodbath. You will also come upon uncountable number of commentaries preaching the necessity for direct negotiation process in another UN-backed Geneva conference between the Syrian National Coalition and Assad regime at which the civil war and massacres in Syria can have an end.
Nevertheless, it took the UN and world powers 18 months and additional 110,000 dead souls to bring in the two Syrian factions to the currently in session Geneva 2 conference on Syria. Bringing into memory that, the death toll of Syria’s civil war was merely 19.000 in June 30 2012, the time when Geneva 1 conference was held in Geneva.
However, on the eve of Geneva 2, a Qatari commissioned report was publicized in which strong evidence of Assad’s regime systematic torture is clearly presented. It is worthy to note that this world-class investigative report was conducted and produced by three former international prosecutors: Desmond de Silva (former chief prosecutor of the special court for Sierra Leone), David Crane (former prosecutor in the trial of Liberian president, Charles Taylor) and Geoffrey Nice (former lead prosecutor in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, former Yugoslavian President),. The filed report also includes fifty-five thousand shocking photographs, which were smuggled by a Syrian defector code-named “Caesar”, of 11,000 corpses of Assad regime detainees, all of which perished due to starvation, brutal beatings, strangulation, gouging out of eyes, electrocution and other unthinkable torturing techniques.
In view of the last three years of blatant butchery of Assad regime during which at least 130,000 Syrian civilians were murdered, either by chemical weapons, TNT barrel bombs, heavy artilleries, long-range shells, air-to-surface missiles or other brutal war tactics, makes anyone to wonder how and who will put an end to this Stalin-like massacres. Recollecting the fact that this extreme pattern of brutality is ingrained in the reigning practices of Assad family since 1971, especially when recalling the siege and bombardment of Hama in 1982 where tens of thousands of Syrian civilians were slaughtered by Assad’s army—let alone discussing their carnage when they had the mandate to rule Lebanon.
In principle, though direct negotiations are the best route to resolve conflicts, yet considering the regime’s usage of chemical weapons and the recent horrible photos of Assad’s war crimes, prove beyond doubt that peace negotiation is barren in Syria’s case. This is primarily because history manifests that ruthless dictators, like Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, thus and so Bashar Assad, do not willingly abandon power, no matter of human sufferings and loss of lives they bring on to humanity. Above and beyond that, It is so because the top two-dominant sponsors of Geneva peace talks, U.S. and Russia, could not agree on Assad departure— much less on the future role of the socialist Ba’ath party. On that, it is alarming inasmuch as it is distressing to foresee the Syrian struggle for democracy turned into, by all probabilities, a long regional win-or-lose civil war.
Under these inhumane circumstances, the unavoidable question is about how much more the international community— who self proclaim, singly and collectively, a guardianship role of human rights and world peace—can tolerate this savage sectarian civil war in Syria without emptying their civil values and principles. It is more about how long governments and, most importantly, people of the free world, from America to Europe and Japan to Australia, can digest the ongoing bloodshed and war crimes in Syria without choking with those moral values and universal human rights they claim to hold.
Nonetheless, we still hear some foreign politicians and journalists suggest that the west has several domestic problems that have priority over international issues. While more dovish groups disclaim any obligation, duty or intention to interfere in armed civil conflicts of foreign nations since the international community is not an overseas police force. Other domestically opinionated groups see that it is an Arab responsibility and hence Arabs should resolve it solely by themselves. In the extreme, some pragmatists see western interest in keeping this pan-Muslim and pan-Arab fire aflame until radical Islamists and Arab regimes deplete each other out.
On the other hand, we find many resourceful politicos and analysts warn that this fire have to be put off the soonest before it expands to the entire Muslim world and beyond. Many political experts and thoughtful think tanks alert that this infuriated civil war between Sunni-backed rebel and Shiite-championed regime in Syria—and Iraq— will devour Arab’s sectarian and ethnic tolerance thus creating a full-scale havoc in the entire Middle East region. They also warn that such chaotic situation will not only cripple moderation, but will also nourish terror, endanger Christian existence, unleash the contained Arab-Israeli conflict and inflame anti-west feelings further to which western interests in this strategic region become unattainable.
Despite the fact that, most of these views and analyses have one ground, or another, in the world of real politics. Nevertheless, the resolving scope of the issue seems to miss considering the human cost and long-term consequences of this sectarian confrontation on six hundred million people. Add on that the adopted methodology of Geneva conference is set out of track. However, this shortcoming in the process drives many skeptic observers to doubt the primary objectives of the conference. To them, it is instituted just to serve as an excuse for the upcoming design for inaction of the international community, leaving the Syrians to hold the blame for the failure of Geneva 2 alone. Could it be true? Let us see.
Anyhow, by all books, ceasefire is the first must-have phase to make peace talks feasible and hence find a settlement. Should the world powers have been serious in stopping the Syrian massacres and putting an end to this war, they would have imposed and actioned an all-inclusive ceasefire, or at least during the talks, between all opponents before discussing peace plans and the future of Syria in Geneva. They would also have agreed in advance to enforce an action plan to forbid the supply of arms to all factions, provide humanitarian aid to the under siege and displaced, ensure the passage of living necessities to all areas, for instance, through which negotiators touch the decisive intent of their sponsors and taste the fruits of peace talking.
To all intents and purposes, if this mass murder and sectarian war is going to continue for long, the world will see Arab countries, turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in Africa transforming into a hub for across-the-board terrorism in which radicalism replaces rationality and fear replaces freedom.
In 1546, John Heywood said, “Make hay while the sun shines”.
Would the free world rethink before late?
Author’s Note: This article is simultaneously published at Arabian Gazette