Give peace a chance in the Middle East
With the defeat in Parliament of the UK Government for an attack on Syria, the British war weary public has got some respite for now. Across the Atlantic, President Obama's decision to go to Congress and get the endorsement for an attack on Syria has also given some breathing space before any contemplated intervention on Syria may take place. In the meantime, I hope common sense prevails and a ceasefire along with a political solution to include all warring parties (Sunni, Shia and Kurds) with a democratic decision making government can be put in place in Syria.
The familiar menace of US war drums is at a feverish pitch as Syria finds itself a target of the Pentagon's next attack. The US, the nation most addicted to war and military spending, now is in the midst of a massive military build-up in the Persian Gulf on a scale not seen in the region since 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Western military hardware in the area includes five US Navy destroyers equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles, F22 Raptor strike aircraft from Turkey, F-16 fighters and Patriot anti-missile batteries in Jordan with 1,000 US troops and including fleet of ten British vessels in the Mediterranean.
At present Syria is in real mess and the situation is likely to worsen with continued fighting, bloodshed and suffering further exasperating sectarianism in the Middle East. The atrocities taking place in the Syria conflict, running into the third year with approximately 100,000 deaths and more than a million refugees driven into neighbouring states, is repeating the humanitarian tragedies similar to those witnessed in Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur.
The attack is unlikely to help those in need of aid and shelter in Syria or neighbouring countries. Big power military intervention is likely to cause more people to flee and lose their homes. With US, Saudi Arabia and Qatar heavily funding the opposition and Russia with Iran backing Assad, the Syrian civil war has spiralled into a global struggle for power with the potential for greater catastrophe including becoming a breeding ground for anti-western militants.
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A military attack on a sovereign member state of the UN which has not threatened another country is an act of aggression and against international law (Treaty of Rome and Article 2(4) of the UN Charter). Launching a war of aggression is indictable under the International Criminal Court (ICC) Act 2001.
There is no evidence that the Syrian Army launched the Chemical Weapons attack on August 21. UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon was outspoken over the necessity to act if his inspectors find evidence of chemical weapons use. "If proven, any use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances is a serious violation of international law and an outrageous crime. We cannot allow impunity in what appears to be a grave crime against humanity," he said.
If the attack on Syria goes ahead without the results of the UN inspection being made available, then leaderships may be guilty again, as over Iraq, of using flawed intelligence to strike a sovereign state. This attack will also kill many more people and probably lead to the devastation of the whole country as is happening in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
If the ongoing crisis under Syria is not brought under control soon by the international community with a ceasefire and a peaceful political solution, then there is a risk of conflict to a full scale regional or a possible third world war.
The priorities of the international communities should be:
A ceasefire to halt the killing and destruction, followed by a dialogue of all parties including Assad – a broad coalition committed to non-violence, democracy, pluralism and non sectarianism.
A UN-brokered agreement by all sides for international humanitarian relief to work effectively into war-stricken areas.
UN Peacekeepers to protect the above and ensure no more fighting between warring parties. UN Peacekeepers should come from non-Western and non-Muslim countries (e.g. Brazil, India etc.)
UN conference of all parties to secure a political solution and state building of Syria.
My book, The Economics of Killing has explored the alternatives to this tragic scenario and has advocated an end to wars and violence around the world, which can result in a global stimulus of $9 trillion – enough not only to build the war torn infrastructure and a safer future for Syria but also bring lasting peace for the wider Middle East and North Africa.
Peace is possible in Syria if all outside interference is stopped and Syrians are allowed to solve their own problems upholding their right to self-determination. There should be an immediate ceasefire to the conflict and all warring parties and their proxies (US, UK, France, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar) engage in an international conference for not only conflict resolution but also rebuilding the infrastructure of the country. A healing process should follow with a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the model successfully established in South Africa.
The bottom-line is, there will never be a military solution, now or ever. Iraq and Afghanistan are powerful reminders that US and Western countries relying on force without a workable peace or a political plan have been a disaster.
Syrian people wish dialogue and negotiation as a way forward. We all remember the fear, panic and lies spun by the British and American governments, and others that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and it was not true. Let us learn the lesson of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya where so many millions have been killed in invasions and war, and many continue to die in roadside bombs which are detonated on a daily basis.
Violence is not the answer, let's end this "war on terror" and give non-violence and peace a chance. There is a golden opportunity not to be missed to conclude a peace agreement among leaders of the G20, as they meet at St. Petersburg, in Russia.
The UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon, is attending the leaders' summit.
I hope that common sense will prevail once again as the recent postponement of the war and a peace deal can be concluded. A peaceful Syria, a peaceful Middle East can be the beginning of a peaceful world.