Syria has become in recent weeks one of the most divisive, complicated, worrying, and emotive topics which has reached prominence in recent times. Many ponder whether intervention is the right course of action which would result in saving many lives, or it could endanger the stability in already extremely volatile region, which is hanging on to some form of cohesion by a very, very loose thread. Syria is a far too large and far too complex a topic to publish a single blog post which would summarise the entirety of the many issues, so this blogpost will in short give you seven small areas of my opinion, key fallacies and key areas of clash in the massive free-for-all debate that is the question of Syria.
1. “IF YOU SUPPORT INTERVENTION, YOU SUPPORT THE SYRIAN REBELS”
I start with perhaps one of the most laughable pieces of hollow rhetoric that has emerged from some politicians in response to supporters of intervention of the Syrian Crisis. It is an absolutely ridiculous statement to suggest that because one supports the right of civilians, women and children who are at the mercy of the fighting and opposes the Government Regime that one supports the Syrian Rebels. This is logically bizarre and in my opinion, incorrect. I also oppose the Syrian Rebels and acknowledge that there are some serious problems with their methods, ideology and have been serious crimes committed by opposition forces. However, intervening and stopping women and children being killed does not inherently mean favouring the brutal and cruel Assad Regime, or the ethically questionable rebels. Let’s be clear, by removing both sides’ chemical weapons by strategic air strikes – what you are doing is stopping their weapons from use on civilian populations. This eliminates the questions of who used what chemical weapons. By removing all chemical weapons from play, it means we won’t have to stand over dead bodies and question what chemical killed them and what side used the weapons. This would also mean that the UN weapons inspectors could make their case and reveal who committed the atrocity and it would stop any chemical weapons being used in the meantime.
Politicians are you listening – that’s part of the solution.
2. “UK WAS RIGHT TO FAIL THE PARLIAMENTARY VOTE FOR ACTION”
Again, another highly questionable point of view. The United Kingdom has given out a strong, worrying and questionable message to dictators that we have lost the appetite to intervene in scenarios where people are brutally slaughtered by a morally repugnant regime and killed to by radicalised rebels. The UK should have passed the initial vote in Parliament to condemn President Assad. By showing our disinterest, Assad realises that the rest of the west are likely to be shaken and he grows in confidence. It’s a simple domino effect process. When one of the progressive western countries fails to show a coherent desire for intervention, other countries start to question themselves and tend to show less appetite for intervention. By doing this – what we have done is arguably stopping other countries potentially intervening in Syria because they are losing potential allies.
Also, Britain could have defined its role in the conflict, and perhaps shown tactical support. By showing a complete disinterest we have neglected our duty to the Syrian people to help them. Also, the UK has some of the best experts on humanitarian intervention in the western world. Depriving whatever coalition, if any, now takes action on Syria of their skills is deeply wrong. Surely if we want a highly successful intervention we should share our knowledge and talent to help shape the intervention process.
3. “OBAMA HAS SHOWN AMAZING COURAGE AND POLITICAL CLASS”
No. This view point is flawed, Obama could have taken executive action instead of seeking a Congress and HOR vote that looks more dubious by the day. Sometimes it’s the job of the leader to take an ethical stand, for what is right, rather than seek a popular vote. Syria to me is one of these issues. Remember, Obama has drawn, re-drawn, re-re-drawn and re-re-re-drawn the “red line” which Syria and Assad cannot cross, yet constantly did. If Obama was such a strong president, surely he would have stood up to the brutal regime two and a half years ago and pushed for an intervention. Think about the potential number of life’s he could have saved. This point brings me nicely onto…
4. “WE SHOULD HAVE INTERVENED TWO AND A HALF YEARS AGO”
Yes. It’s an obviously correct viewpoint, in my opinion. That’s all I’m going to answer on that point. But remember every politician said they “must make their own regime change” and it’s “an issue for the Syrian people – intervening will make it worse”, yet now it’s an issue with “world changing consequences”. This is one issue I have to say I hate to have been proved right on.
5. INTERVENTION ISN’T WANTED – NO MORE WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Here is the interactive part of the class – “Intervention” and “war” – spot the difference?
You up the back?
Not only are they different things, but they are completely different concepts and practices. Intervening in Syria isn’t a war. We aren’t declaring war on Assad or the Rebels. What we would be doing is protecting civilians and stopping chemical weapons being used to slaughter hundreds of innocents. Irrespective of what faction is using them. More importantly, intervention also helps many people by providing food and multi-lateral aid towards the Syrian people. Humanitarian intervention isn’t just about killing the baddies and the military man, the soldier with the gun. It’s about the medics that would be protected by soldiers that would help women and children. It’s about allocating resources to help refugees find new homes and to help evacuate those at risk. It’s about the food distributors helping feed those going hungry. This is a key misconception, people arguing for intervention, aren’t cruel, cold soulless people. We really so want to help and make a difference.
6. THE REBELS ARE RADICALS
I’m going to cause a bit of trouble by asking a probing question here. Why are they radicals? Because we didn’t offer them our intervention and support. It’s a natural human instinct to seek help to overcome an excruciatingly difficult obstacle. When the rebels called for help, we refused to help them and offer our strategic guidance with critical support. This was a critical mistake. We let terrorist groups radicalise the rebels. This is a strong punishment for the world’s inaction. We have created the groups that we were worried we would have created by arming the rebels. The radicalisation of the rebels has no beneficial consequences. This has simply left Syria with options of the status quo, the brutal dictatorship offered under the embattled Assad Regime, or even more sinister, radical Islamist groups like exceptionally zealous salafists.
7. RIP THE SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP
Total exaggeration. While the special relationship isn’t crippled, or dead, it has been noticeably damaged by United Kingdom stance on Syria. It should be interesting to see whether Cameron advocates Syrian intervention and continues to push the humanitarian interventionist agenda at the current G20 Saint Petersburg conference, or if he takes on a more reserved role. I would like to see Cameron be more vocal in his calls for intervention in Syria despite his hands been tied by the parliamentary vote.
These are just some of my conclusions I will be posting weekly on Syria. Feel free to challenge me on them. But I feel that there is a case on Humanitarian Intervention. And I’m passionate about Syria and trying to inform people of a more rational side of humanitarian intervention.