I now write on law and regulation facing the pensions sector for Professional Pensions and this portfolio will no longer be updated. Please read all my new articles on the Professional Pensions website.
The crisis in Syria continues to worsen and any improvement to the situation seems an all too distant possibility.
The announcement of the UN’s special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan’s resignation from the role highlights the difficulty of the task; and aside from that, revelations from Obama’s administration and talks between Russia’s Putin and David Cameron clearly demonstrate the absolute lack of international unity.
But what is the real heart of the problem? Is it a lack of unity between all members of the United Nations, with China and Russia vetoing any proposed action on Assad’s regime, or is it the fact that neither the regime or the ‘rebels’ are adhering to the six-point plan that Annan attempted to implement? Every side blames the other, so no clarity is apparent. Regardless, the crisis is infuriating, and despite it’s similarities to the Libyan uprising last year, it is also very different. Cynics might say it’s to do with oil, others to say with key alliances; either way, there are civilians being killed left, right and centre here, and it’s not something that should occur no matter the situation.
The situation is vastly different to Libya for a number of reasons; essentially, the sides of the oppositions and the length of time this conflict has spanned define the sensitivity of the situation. Comparatively, Libya appeared to have an almost everyone-against-Gaddafi situation, where the majority of citizens were in favour of his deposition, whereas within Syria, there is an obvious divide of opinion, and to favour one side over another would be to ignore the rights and opinions of a large sector of society, regardless of what the rest of the country and, indeed, the world thinks. Secondly, the conflict in Libya lasted only a couple of months before there was international intervention, whereas this conflict has lasted over a year now. The common opinion now is that Syria is militarised; citizens are used to conflict and there is danger for any person within the country. To arm the citizens would not simply result in the overthrow of the Government, but rather in the massacre of a vast number of citizens who disagree with the most armed side. These two points put us in a very difficult situation.
What’s the correct way forward? I’m no expert on international relations, and I would hate to advocate war in any form, but it’s obvious that some kind of action needs to be taken to depose Assad, or the country needs to be sorted and split, like with Sudan. But first, diplomacy needs to ensure that there is peaceful transition and implementation of whatever strategy is agreed upon. Unfortunately, diplomacy appears to be the first hurdle that cannot be overcome, forcing Annan’s resignation today. And Obama appears to have decided that also, signing the document for approval in helping the rebels a few months ago, in a covert operation, just falling short of agreeing to arm them. We are yet to see the backlash on this, and a resolution that China and Russia agree appears too distant.
The strangest part of the situation; Syria have still been able to enter a team into the London 2012 Olympics, and they are competing alongside international athletes peacefully. How can a country that is killing its own citizens be able to peacefully enter an international sports competition is beyond me, but apparently it’s possible.