International diplomacy in Syria has failed—but it's not too late to change courseby Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed / August 3, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in August 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
The situation in Syria continues to spiral out of control. Bashir al-Assad’s forces including tanks and helicopter gunships, supported by Russia and Iran, are currently amassed around the city of Aleppo, where Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels have fought a nearly three-week offensive leading 200,000 civilians to flee their homes—with both sidesclaiming they are winning the battle.
What began on 15th March 2011 with public demonstrations which rapidly accelerated into a national uprising, has now become an armed insurgency complete with suicide bombings—provoked by Assad’s ruthless efforts to stamp out peaceful protests through an unmitigated “scorched earth policy” that has deliberately targeted and tortured civilians, while ravaging crops and homes. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that over 19,000 have been killed so far, while between 1 and 1.5 million people have been internally displaced.
Today, Britain’s foreign secretary William Hague weighed in confirming that the UK will step up “practical and non-lethal” assistance to the rebels, because “diplomacy has so far failed the people of Syria.” He declined to comment on UK intelligence involvement. But has diplomacy really failed, or has the international community made it fail?