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April 16, 2018

As Syria spirals


April 16, 2018

The Syria crisis is spiralling out of control in terms of its impact on global politics. Not that it will get any better or worse for the Syrian people who have been suffering the consequences of an international proxy war for five years. Despite Russian warnings to the contrary, Western powers have responded to the alleged chemical attack in Douma with missile strikes on purported chemical weapons factories in Syria. The Pentagon has said that the strikes have targeted three specific sites. The UK and France have joined in the launch of over 100 missiles into Syria. Russia has responded with the claim that at least 71 of the missiles were successfully shot down. As China and Iran joined the condemnations of the missile strikes, it is clear that international powers have now come to a full-fledge verbal conflict with each other over Syria. The promise that the missile strikes are a ‘one-time shot’ could help avert a dangerous escalation involving the direct military force of the countries involved but Russia is determined to take the matter to the UN Security Council. There is every sign that there will be another stalemate in the UNSC as the complete ineffectiveness of the UN as a peace broker has been proven in the context of Syria.

No actor in the Syrian theatre of war is not a war criminal. The tears shed for the victims of the chemical attack in Douma are as fake as the promises of bringing peace back to Syria that we have heard repeated over the last five years. Peace is not coming to Syria. And if world powers do not find a joint agenda to move ahead, this could be the recipe for a low-grade global war. One must continue to ask: how can world powers continue to encourage more war in Syria? How can they continue to feed the civil conflict while claiming they stand for human rights and humanity? Currently, the most likely outcome is that Russia will agree to supply Syria with an advanced air defence system to replace its current one from the 1960s. But it should be clear that whatever message US President Trump claims he wanted to deliver to Assad, the opposite message of that will be heard. It would have been better to wait for the findings of the fact-finding mission on Douma. Its legitimacy has now been put into question as no one that matters will care about what it finds. We should have been able to find a path to peace in Syria. Instead, we have only escalated the war.

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