Analysis: Is Syria the New Palestine of the Middle East?



Fri, 14 Apr 2017 - 02:34 GMT


Fri, 14 Apr 2017 - 02:34 GMT

US fired missiles at Syrian air base in April 6, 2017– Photo via U.S. Department of Defense

US fired missiles at Syrian air base in April 6, 2017– Photo via U.S. Department of Defense

Taking a look back at last week’s UNSC rejection of the draft resolution condemning alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria

CAIRO-14 April: Refugees, peace talks, Geneva talks 1, 2, 3 and 4, UN resolutions and speculations about dividing the country—could Syria be turning into a second Palestine? While Syria has for years now been in the international crossfire of wars between states with different agendas, there are Arab fears that Syria will be suffering the same fate as the Palestinian nation.

But the question is, can the Middle East handle a second Palestine? Who exactly are the parties sabotaging peace talks that might stem the flow of blood? Who feeds and strengthens terrorists? More importantly, who benefits most from their existence?

In a prestigious hall of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), where members meet to keep world order intact and states’ fates are designed, representatives gathered late last week to decide Syria’s fate following recent attacks on the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun and the US airstrike against Shoairat airbase in Homs. The US had called for a vote on Wednesday on a draft resolution demanding that the Syrian government cooperate with an investigation into a suspected chemical attack last week in Idlib province. Meetings were held, accusations flew between world superpowers and several statements were announced, including the rejection of the draft resolution that would have condemned the reported chemical weapons attack on the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun and expressed its determination to hold the perpetrators accountable. The Russian federation’s delegate requested an independent investigation to be launched into the Khan Shaykhun incident, arguing that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had in 2014 declared it had destroyed all of Syria’s chemical weapons.

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United Nations Security Council - Photo Courtesy via The White House Photostream

Last week’s rejection, however, will not reverse the carnage or loss the Syrians have endured. The same airbase that helped liberate Palmyra city from terrorists who pillaged heritage, sold off priceless monuments and left destruction in their wake was hit by 59 US missiles after allegations the Syrian government had launched a chemical gas attack on its people. The attack shocked the world and prompted the US to intervene militarily. But though it rushed to the UNSC to legitimize its retaliation, the truth is the attack was not based on proper investigation.

Last Wednesday’s UNSC meeting showed that many were not happy with the US’ rushed decision When the US representative demanded the Bashar al-Assad regime provide access to sites, the world highly doubted the allegations and instead wanted to see proof Syria had chemical weapons in the first place.

Others, like Ukraine’s representative, expressed his disappointment that the resolution did not pass, saying, “The Council’s inability to act had sent a message that perpetrators could ‘get away with murder.’ Today, I feel ashamed. This vote was a credibility test for the Council and we have not passed it.” Yet Ukraine’s stance on having foreign fighters on their own land is itself questionable. Can we assume Ukraine makes it legal for foreign fighters to carry on a proxy war on other states’ lands? This exact statement by the Ukrainian delegate at the UNSC can later on be used against them by Russia. Ukraine is not seen to be in a position to make such a statement about another member state in crisis, since it is in a crisis itself.

Syria’s delegate rejected any use of chemicals, emphasizing that his country wanted to learn the truth more than anyone else, and requested an investigation to be held into both the Shoairat airbase and Khan Shaykun incidents. The “truth,” it appears, does not seem to be the US’ aim, since there was no mention about the 90 letters sent by the Syrian government to the OPCW requesting an investigation into terrorist groups’ involvement with chemical weapons and other arms.

It’s no secret that since the Syrian crisis started, and stances made clear by allies, Syria would be the stage for the fourth phase in the cold war between longtime adversaries Russia and the US. As events developed and the conflict escalated, the Syrian crisis morphed into a proxy war where major players spar, either by not getting totally involved and sending in their own troops, or getting involved upon the request of an ally: it’s a geolocated war between world powers at the expense of the lives of innocent Syrians. The only sane argument that could be heard over the clamor last week was the statement by the Egyptian delegation decrying the polarization taking place between member states of the international community and calling for a speedy political resolution through talks between the US and Russia.

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Syrian refugees sleeping at railway station in Hungary in Sept.2015 - creative commons via Mstyslav Chernov

In an interview last week, Assad told AFP, “Our impression is that the West, mainly the United States, is hand-in-glove with the terrorists. They fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack. He also called the allegations “100 percent fabrication.”

Russia rejected the draft resolution, claiming it contained “sly political language,” and also argued that the resolution aimed to incriminate the Syrian government without a proper investigation of the incident. Russia would never have accepted such a resolution, because it would have given permission for the US to launch future airstrikes against Syria without the need for permission from the UNSC.

Today all hopes of resolving the Syrian crisis lie in the hands of major powers, who have made it clear they are fighting against each other on Syrian soil. The international community is on edge, fearing the fuse of a Third World War will be lit by more US airstrikes or another Russian/Syrian claim of use of chemical weapons. But what is clear is that Syrian forces and allies will not accept to withdraw Assad from power unless an agreement is reached through political resolution.



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