Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Syria crisis: Russia 'hands chemical arms plan to US', President Obama needs to carry international support, the first step is taken, now US can play a meaningful role using diplomatic means, military action is still an option, but aid to Syrian population should be US priority at present

Dear All

The US hasn’t of late covered itself in glory over foreign policy decisions.

In the case of Syrian, a lot was said that in the cold light of reality proved to be premature and incredibly unhelpful.

We live in a dangerous world, and it isn’t getting safer in the present climate, across the globe people are unhappy with their governments, some have taken to the streets to protest.

This is isolated to the Middle East.

I am not a fan of ‘regime change on the cheap’, this appears to be a policy that the West is using in the Middle East and the results have been disastrous.

The jist is to stoke up groups who dislike their government, they take to the streets, then there is trouble, fighting takes place and the usual scenario of being 'appalled' is trotted out by the West.

Syria is a classic example of a bad decision and situation being made worse; how many people; have lost their lives as is normal in these types of things we will never know, we will get the highlights.

When John Kerry the US Secretary of State uttered that Syria should hand over its chemical weapons stockpile, he by default presented a solution to stop military action by the West in Syria.

It was ‘off the cuff’ but the Russians jumped in and picked it up, now the US has an opportunity to do a rethink, via our Russian cousins.

Accidents happen, now US President Barack Obama has put military action against Syria on hold and vowed to pursue diplomacy to remove the regime's chemical weapons.

It is right decision, on the ground there is chaos, people about 2 million have been displaced, one million are children, it is a war zone, aid is needed to prevent a humanitarian disaster. The United Nations has a track record in this type of work; however, the US should facilitate aid in a logistical sense by making the US surface auxillary fleet available to get much needed supplies into Syria.

China is an example of the way forward; the Chinese have for some time extended their influence in the world not by war, but by trade and proving infrastructure support and projects to countries. In return, they get access to resources, for everyone it is a win win.

Something that America could do well to copy for future diplomatic success.

However there needs to be a change in mindset, ‘regime change on the cheap’ needs to be abandoned, it isn’t helpful.

The Syrian Government in Damascus admits it has chemical weapons and has agreed to abide by a Russian plan to hand over its arsenal.

On the wider picture, the US should remember, that the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front pose them a serious problem of credibility, we can’t support these people even by proxy.

A solution has to be diplomatic, the US must really sit down; how they got into this mess is an internal debate for them to have later. The problem for them is to turn this around and work with the wider international community to find a political solution.

America needs a stable Syria, President Bashar al-Assad represents still the best possible person to do this; other issues regarding Syria also need to be addressed, so this can be included in talks.

Like many people I can’t get it round my head that President Bashar al-Assad would use chemical weapons on his own people, and especially since the Syrian Army is winning on the ground. I don’t know al-Assad but he doesn’t strike me as a person who signs up for mass slaughter of his own people.

As well as dealing with the Syrian Government, the US must deal with the Free Syrian Army, they have to stand down; we need a ceasefire. The Syrian Army must retake the Christian town of Maaloula, al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front isn’t known for tolerance!

 As to the chemical weapons, although there is a disagreement between Russia and Syria regarding whether the weapons should be destroyed, the Russians should make it clear that the Syrians are on the brink. And they should make the choice between complying and losing their strongest ally.

At the UN, Russia has also said any draft resolution putting the blame on the Syrian government would be unacceptable, and urged a non-binding declaration backing its initiative.

The time for face saving is over, the time for a new strategy is clearly now here, the US has the option of military strikes in the future, that remains, and the President Bashar al-Assad knows this, as do his Syrian Government.

Every day the US doesn’t launch a military strike, some people are getting an extra day of life, regards Syria still remains a right bloody mess politically.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University  

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