The lack of support among Americans, even among members of Congress for a potential conflict after Obama threatened limited strikes on Syrian military targets to ‘punish’ President Bashar al-Assad for allegedly gassing his own people last month, also played a major role. The US senate and House of Representatives that would have voted on the proposition whether or not to back President Obama on the air strike had to postpone the vote in order to consider a new Russian proposal recommending that Syria put its chemical weapons stockpile under international supervision and control.
The Russian initiative is timely, and has saved, at least for now, the world from another needless war in the already volatile region. The international community and people of goodwill should seize this opportunity offered not only to douse the clamour for another war but also to find a lasting solution to the raging conflict that has dogged Syria these three years.
As Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out in an opinion piece published by the New York Times yesterday, the potential strike by the U.S. against Syria despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, would result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders.
This should be allowed to happen.
All concerned parties should demonstrate a willingness to make a success of the diplomatic opening to avoid war. In this, both the Syrian government and the disparate rebel factions opposed to it have grave responsibility to ensure this opportunity is not wasted.
The evidence of what happened last month in the Syrian town of Ghouta is not conclusive; a team of United Nations chemical weapons experts that visited the area and took samples is yet to make its report known. The Syrian government, which had invited the inspectors in on a different mission, blamed the rebels for the gas attack that killed at least 300 people in order to provide a cover to invite military intervention. The rebels distributed images that sought to link the government to the attack with chemical that many claimed could be sarin.
Adopting an open door policy on the part of the Syrian government on this issue is the price to pay in order to forestall the likelihood of subjecting parts or all of Syria to the bombardment of withering air strike of the US military assault.
The international community under the aegis of the United Nations should see this as an opening to explore avenue to limit the illegal use of dangerous and unconventional weapons on civilian populations in any conflict in the world. More importantly, however it should also take it as an assignment to explore the possibility of a lasting solution that will usher in peace in Syria. The immediate brief would be steering the Syrian combatants toward genuine peaceful settlement of the civil war that has turned many Syrians into refugees in neighbouring countries.
It will be sensible to explore ways to achieve a lasting peace to stop the carnage going on now. Such an outcome would entail a genuine disposition by the parties involved to restore peace to Syria.
The world may be heaving a sigh of relief that another unnecessary conflict has been averted. It is important to consider the power of diplomacy in this case, and if this peaceful weapon had been deployed in many conflict zones that are still on the boil today, the story of mankind would have been vastly different from what we know. But there’s much more to be done to ensure that the world is a safer place than what it has become due to wars.