This blog is intended to provide the reader with important world news with an emphasis on Middle East and North Africa. It will publish news, analyses, comments, and opinions concerning those two regions. However, We welcome any comments, news or opinions which are related to their countries. You can visit too www.asswak-alarab.com for more information.
Monday, April 30, 2012
Principled Intervention In Syria
By Adil E. Shamoo
Young protester in Homs
must seriously consider intervention in Syria despite our misgivings. Such an
intervention, however, need not impose hegemony on Syria. Unfortunately, so far
no one advocating intervention has pledged to abide by fundamental moral
principles of respecting Syrians, their independence, and their future
over a year, Bashar al-Assad’s regime has savagely killed and wounded Syrian
civilians.The regime has also targeted
international journalists when they manage to enter the country. The number of
civilian deaths has topped 9,000. Armed opposition forces as well as ordinary
civilians are struggling to keep the battle going against a well-equipped
military and security forces. The United Nations recently reached a consensus
to send 300 additional monitors to Syria. Violence has decreased but not
country is divided along many religious, ethnic, and sectarian lines.
Minorities fear that a new Sunni majority government might commit atrocities
against them, similar to what happened in Iraq after the U.S. invasion. Islamic
fundamentalists, and even al-Qaeda, have made their presence known in Syria.
These groups operating in Syria raise the specter of a wide-ranging and brutal
the U.S. television media, and to a lesser extent the print media, does not
delve into the important fact that Assad receives support from a significant
portion of the Syrian people, such as Alawites, Kurds, Christians, Druze, the
merchant class, and part of the middle class. In a rare exception, Stephen
Hadley, former national security advisor for President George W. Bush,
acknowledged the extent of Syrians’ support for Assad in an op-ed in The
Washington Post. Furthermore, Hadley had some reasonable suggestions on how to
resolve the Syrian conflict, such as having the Syrian National Council — and
not the United States — lead the removal of the regime, and formulating
beforehand a concrete economic plan to help Syria.
Western powers and the Arab League, with the exception of Saudi Arabia and
Qatar, claim that there is not sufficient consensus to intervene militarily in
Syria. Although the Western powers, including the United States, talk a great
deal about helping Syria, they have been reluctant to do so for many reasons, including
the lack of oil in Syria. Instead, Western officials speak about the
inevitability of Assad’s downfall, as if it will happen without any additional
far, I’ve opposed any military intervention in Syria for moral as well as practical
reasons. Syria is in a civil war, and there is no unified popular uprising as
there was in Tunisia and Egypt. Instead, a divided country is at war with
itself. The opposition could suddenly seize power with the assistance of a
foreign military forces and a slaughter of civilians by both sides could ensue.
Principles of Intervention
serious plan for foreign military intervention in Syria must be fully
transparent and strictly adhere to the following principles.
intervening forces should be composed of personnel from the following entities
in a descending order of preference: the UN, India, the Arab League, and the
Scandinavian countries. The force magnitude of the intervening force should be
sufficient to achieve the goals set by the UN. The Syrian National Council, in
conjunction with the leadership of the UN and the intervening countries, should
pledge to abide by these principles. Syrian civilians should not to be armed.
The arms should go to the newly reconstructed military under the leadership of
the National Council. The first mission of the intervening forces must be to
protect minorities at risk of abuse.
the intervening forces have secured the country, the Syrian National Council is
to form a secular transitional government lasting one year. This transitional
government must pledge to abide by the UN Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, guarantee freedom of the press, and ensure free access to Syria by
international journalists. The intervening forces must pledge non-interference
in Syria’s domestic and foreign policies. The transitional government, along
with the intervening forces, must ensure the safety and security of all Syrians
and treat them equally regardless of religion, sect, or ethnicity.
intervening forces must withdraw within one year, though part or all of the
intervening forces can be renewable for an additional year. However, the Syrian
National Council should have a veto power over this extension. The Syrian
people will be the sole conveners and writers of their constitution and hold
elections after one year. The UN will send observers to monitor the
intervention and the election. If the UN does not provide observers,
international human rights organizations will serve as observers. The
intervening forces are to use peaceful means to resolve conflicts if at all
The Syrian Difference
the recent military interventions in Iraq and Libya, the intervening forces
refused to abide by any principles. Iraq as a result was a calamity. In Libya,
NATO interpreted its UN mandate for its own political convenience. Moreover,
the UN should never have surrendered its power and functions to a specific
military alliance (NATO). If the Western powers and the UN are as altruistic as
they claim, they should be willing to abide by these principles.
understand and appreciate the objections raised by my colleague and Middle East
expert, Stephen Zunes, to any military intervention in Syria. I too was against
any military intervention in Syria. However, how long must we wait to stop the
slaughter? Yes, intervention produces its own risks. But we have to consider
the risks of non-intervention.
addition to the slaughter of innocent civilians in Syria, the relative
stability of the whole region is at stake. The continued violence in the region
can engulf the whole Middle East with incalculable consequences. This is why I
challenge the UN, the United States, and Western powers to abide by the
suggested strict principles for the military intervention and by neutral or
nearly neutral organization such as the UN.
the 21st century, the world needs to turn its back onnaked hegemony in the name of humanitarian
assistance to a truly altruistic intervention for the sake of saving thousands
of human lives.
-This commentary was published in Foreign Policy In Focus on 27/04/2012
-Adil E. Shamoo is an associate fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies, a
senior analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus, and the author of Equal Worth –
When Humanity Will Have Peace