By Adham Bishr
The world has been allowed some breathing room. A tenuous truce is now being held in Syria between the Assad regime and the rebels. Whether or not both sides are holding completely to the terms of the peace, it is clear both sides have avoided major killings (despite accusations from each group). Writers have regularly lobbied the American public to do more to help the rebels, specifics notwithstanding. But problems do not present us with solutions. While everyone agrees that the Assad regime should stop killing its own people, no one has come up with a concrete way to do so.
The international community remains very divided on the issue. Russia and China revealed the impotence of the United Nations when they vetoed a resolution condemning the violence. They claimed that this resolution would hinder direct talks with Assad, but the truth was clear. When they had supported the resolution condemning Gaddafi and the violence in Libya, NATO blatantly overstepped its bounds and pit military forces against the Libyan regime (albeit for a good cause). Russia and China are now fearful of being played for fools twice and the possible precedent of the United Nations getting involved in their own respective nations.
Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia have been supplying the rebels and have been praised for it. However we must recognize these nations’ less-than-altruistic motives. These are predominantly Sunni Muslim governments attempting to oust as Shiite-Muslim Assad regime. They recognize the importance of Syria to Iran, the de-facto enemy to the monarch of Saudi Arabia. It seems the “friend of my enemy is my enemy” is now the creed for the Saudis. But for all their assistance, the rebels have been pushed back and the stronghold of Homs has been taken by the Syrian military. Clearly more is needed to bring about a successful rebel victory.
This leads to the question stated above: what now? The answer lies in one state—Russia. Russia holds enormous clout in Syria, especially because of its role as one of the main military suppliers to the government. The United States was quick to publicly blame Russia. Even Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, questioned its involvement. But the truth is that no amount of bad publicity will push Russia to act more amiably. The Medvedev-Putin partnership must be made to realize that the killings in Syria are not just morally wrong, but detrimental to the stability of the Middle East, something both the United States and Russia wish to preserve.
Photo Courtesy of Freedom House