International diplomacy in Syria has failed—but it's not too late to change courseby Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed / August 3, 2012 / Leave a comment
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?
While the White House has ruled out a direct military intervention, a presidential “finding”—a highly classified secret directive authorising greater covert assistance for the rebels—came to light recently via White House sources as Obama administration officials spoke openly about a post-Assad Syria. “We are in the early stages of contemplating an Assad aftermath,” said one senior US official. The New York Times reported that the US is “increasing aid to the rebels and redoubling efforts to rally a coalition of like-minded countries to forcibly bring down” Assad’s regime. The US administration is “in talks with officials in Turkey and Israel over how to manage a Syrian government collapse,” including “regular talks with the Israelis about how Israel might move to destroy Syrian weapons facilities.” US diplomats are also meeting “various Syrian opposition groups outside the country to help map out a possible post-Assad government.”
The US has already supported the rebels indirectly through its regional client-regimes—Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Turkey and even Libya. “Syrian rebels battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad have begun receiving significantly more and better weapons in recent weeks, an effort paid for by Persian Gulf nations and coordinated in part by the United States,” reported the Washington Post, which also noted that the…