Legacy in ruins

Demonstrators hold flags reading, "There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is the prophet", during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in Binsh near Idlib September 28, 2012. REUTERS/Shaam News Network/Handout

The scene in Syria does not change. Three different international meetings have taken place over recent days to discuss the situation, amid some of the bloodiest fighting the conflict has so far seen.

Thanks to their sheer number, it has become impossible to keep track of all of the meetings that have been held with the purported aim of putting an end to some of the bloodshed. Every interested party has held their own, all with similar outcomes.

None have bothered to address what the Syrians are asking for. All put their own interests and agenda to the forefront in their considerations.

Yet Western countries, headed by the United States, are happy to laud those fighting in Syria, because they are fighting for freedom and democracy. But they do this knowing full well that those they laud do not have the capabilities or the equipment for this fight. They cannot succeed while they fight Assad’s military with their own makeshift weaponry and relatively low numbers.

When Western states rightly decry the atrocities of Assad and those who fight in his name, they must also consider their own responsibilities, and the blame they must take for their role.

In their procrastination regarding action in Syria, they have been complicit in allowing the uprising to develop into what it seems will shortly be full-scale civil war.

This week Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.-Arab League mediator on the crisis, said he needed more time to create a concrete plan for peace, saying he wanted to be able to fully assess the situation, and understand what is necessary and desired in the country.

The truth is that this is a cover. Brahimi is buying time, instead of admitting that there is nothing he can do until the U.S. elections are over. Instead of playing with words, he should be honest and open that the future of U.S. policymaking will be the deciding factor in what happens in Syria.

Even then, it is important to acknowledge that action will not happen swiftly. In the unlikely event that Mitt Romney wins the election, it will be several months before he is in any position to take action. At the rate of deaths in Syria, several months will be devastating.

Even should Barack Obama win, it is naive to think he will simply press a button to kickstart action.

So far the main U.S. concern appears to be the whereabouts of Syria’s chemical weapons, an obvious move to appease Israel.

Yet they continue to discuss plans and measures to end the conflict. Their duplicity brings hope to innocent Syrians, making their talk appear as a treacherous plot when no action is forthcoming.

Meanwhile the world becomes numbed to the rising death toll, and the only thing that can be relied upon in this conflict is that the longer it continues, whoever wins, will inherit only ruins.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 29, 2012, on page 7.




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