Sending arms to Syria would be catastrophic

Update: June, 21/2013 - 09:35

by Mai Phuong

Syrian army tanks making their way to the Dabaa military airfield, north of Qusayr City. Syrian government troops repulsed a rebel assault on a village in central Homs province, killing at least 28 of the rebels, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. — AFP/VNA Photo

(VNS) — It is not without reason that the recent gathering of the world's eight leading industrialised nations (G-8), which was supposed to focus on economic and financial issues, quickly descended into a fierce debate on the political crisis in Syria.

The fact remains that the situation in Syria has become more and more severe and urgent solutions are needed immediately to put an end to a brutal civil war that has become a source of concern not only to the Middle East, but to the whole world as well.

Since the early days of the uprising that began in March 2011 with peaceful demonstrations, before devolving into a brutal armed conflict, the violence has killed more than 93,000 people, according to the United Nations. Twice that figure have been recorded as injured, while over a million Syrians are refugees in neighbouring countries.

So far, the international community has failed to take any meaningful action to end the conflict. Now they are faced with a situation that has already become so militarised that there is very little political space for a peaceful settlement.

After two days of discussion, the most that could be agreed upon at the G-8 summit was that Syrian peace talks should be held "as soon as possible", while deep divisions remain unresolved between group leaders.

Some have called for more support for the rebels, some have backed the administration of President Bashar al-Assad and others would support the formation of a transitional government in Syria including former members of Assad's government who have since changed their allegiance.

Nevertheless, to find a solution for the situation, the most important thing is for both sides to lay down their arms to sit by the table. Sadly, this is easier said than done.

Two days ago, US President Barack Obama refused to specify the exact nature of new US military aid to Syrian rebels, but denied that the country was heading into a new Middle Eastern war. The worries remain, however.

Every effort must be made to reach the dialogue stage before international intervention in the form of sending equipment, armour and weapons to either side. Further militarisation of the people will only prolong the bloodshed. This is a scenario that must be rejected by all Syrians.

These peace talks must start immediately and without any preconditions in order to stop the rising death toll.

Many analysts have suggested Assad's government is willing to negotiate an end to the crisis, but not with groups he calls ‘terrorists' while rebel groups who refuse to sit and negotiate until the president has relinquished power will find the wait a long one. Compromise must be reached somewhere.

Analysyt Lea Khoury believes that international military intervention in Syria could be catastrophic and eventually result in more deaths than would non-intervention. In an article published in the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, she states: "The solution to the crisis in Syria cannot and should not be military. A political settlement has to remain the international community's priority."

It is time the government and the rebels made some compromises in the pursuit of peace. If they can not achieve this, then by the time the shooting stops and the atrocities end, the image of whichever Syria they have been fighting for will have disappeared forever. — VNS