Why Geneva Talks Won’t Stop the Syrian Bloodbath

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Now as thirty-four months ago, on every international and regional news TV you would watch, or transnational newspaper you might read, or human rights websites you explore, you will find analytical articles condemning the ongoing Syrian bloodbath. You will also come upon an uncountable number of commentaries preaching the necessity to continue the direct negotiation process in another UN-backed Geneva conference between the Syrian National Coalition and Assad regime so that the civil war and massacres in Syria can have an end.

Nevertheless, it took the UN and world powers 18 months and additional 110,000 dead souls to bring in the two Syrian factions to the currently in session Geneva 2 conference on Syria. Calling into memory that, the death toll of Syria’s civil war was just 19.000 on June 30, 2012, the time when Geneva 1 conference took place in Geneva.

However, on the eve of Geneva 2, a Qatari commissioned report was publicized providing a solid evidence of Assad’s regime systematic torture. It is worthy to note that this world-class investigative report was conducted and produced by three former international prosecutors: Desmond de Silva (former chief prosecutor of the special court for Sierra Leone), David Crane (former prosecutor in the trial of Charles Taylor, former Liberian president) and Geoffrey Nice (former lead prosecutor in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic,  former Yugoslavian President),. The filed report also includes fifty-five thousand shocking photographs, which were smuggled by a Syrian defector code-named “Caesar”, of 11,000 corpses of Syrian detainees who perished due to starvation, brutal beatings, strangulation, gouging out of eyes, electrocution and other unthinkable torturing techniques of Bashar Assad’s regime.

However, the first three years of Assad’s regime blatant butchery where more than 130,000 Syrian civilians have been murdered either by chemical weapons, TNT barrel bombs, heavy artillery, long-range shells, air-to-surface missiles or by death squads, prompt everyone to wonder how and who will put an end to this Stalinist-like massacres. This pattern of brutality seems to be deep-rooted in the psychic and practices of Assad family since Hafez Al-Assad coups d’état in 1971. Recalling one incident of many, such as Assad ’s father massacres in Hama in 1982 where Assad’s army slaughtered tens of thousands of Syrian civilians, should be enough to confirm this conclusion—let alone Assad’s carnage in Lebanon.

Although direct negotiations are acknowledged as the best route to resolve conflicts, yet considering the Syrian regime use of chemical weapons on civilians and the recent horrible photo evidence of Assad’s war crimes, prove beyond doubt that peace negotiation would be barren in Syria’s case. Firstly, this is because history manifests that ruthless dictators, like Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, and Bashar Assad, do not willingly abandon power, no matter of the human sufferings and loss of lives they cause. Above and beyond that, It is so because the top two-dominant sponsors  (the U.S. and Russia) of Geneva peace talks, could not agree on Assad departure— much less on the future role of the socialist Ba’ath party. On that, it is alarming inasmuch as it is distressing to foresee the Syrian struggle for democracy turns into, in all probabilities, a very long regional win-or-lose civil war.

Leaked photos of 11000 corpses from the Qatari commissioned report of Syrian regime's war crimes
Photo of some Syrian corpses leaked from the commissioned report accusing the Syrian regime of war crimes

Given these inhumane circumstances, the unavoidable question is how much more the international community, who self-proclaim, singly and collectively, a guardianship role of human rights and world peace, can tolerate this savage civil war in Syria without voiding their civil values and principles. It is about how long those advanced governments and, most importantly, people of the free world, from America to Europe and from Japan to Australia, can digest the never-ending bloodshed and war crimes in Syria without choking with the moral values and universal human rights they claim to hold.

Nonetheless, we still hear some foreign politicians and journalists suggest that the west has several domestic problems that have priority over international issues. While more dovish groups disclaim any obligation, duty or intention to interfere in armed civil conflicts of foreign nations since the international community is not an overseas police force. Other domestically opinionated groups see that it is an Arab responsibility and hence Arabs should resolve it solely by themselves. In the extreme, some pragmatists see western interest in keeping this pan-Muslim and pan-Arab fire aflame until radical Islamists and Arab regimes deplete each other out.

On the other hand, we find many resourceful politicos and analysts warn that this fire has to be put off the soonest before it expands to the entire Muslim world and beyond.  Many political experts and thoughtful think tanks warn that this infuriated civil war between Sunni-backed rebels and the Shiite-championed regime in Syria and Iraq will devour Arab sectarian and ethnic tolerance and thus creates a full-scale havoc in the entire Middle East region. They also warn that this chaotic situation will not only cripple moderation but will also nourish terror, endanger Christian existence, unleash the contained Arab-Israeli conflict and inflame anti-west feelings further to which the strategic western interests in this region become under review.

Despite that, most of these views and analyses have one ground, or another, in the world of real politics. Nonetheless, the resolving scope of the issue seems to miss considering the human cost and the long-term consequences of this sectarian confrontation on hundreds of millions of people–not to discuss the adopted out-of-track methodology of Geneva conference.

However, this shortcoming in the process drives many skeptic observers to doubt the primary objectives of the conference. To them, it is instituted just to serve as an excuse for the international community upcoming of inaction, leaving the Syrians to hold the blame for the failure of Geneva talks alone.  Could it be true? Will see!

Anyhow, by all books, a ceasefire is the first must-have phase to make peace talks feasible and hence find a settlement. Should world powers have been serious in stopping the Syrian massacres and putting an end to this war, they could have imposed an all-inclusive ceasefire, or at least during the talks, between all opponents before discussing peace plans and the future of Syria in Geneva. They could also have agreed in advance to forbid the supply of arms to all factions, provide humanitarian aid to the under siege and displaced, ensure the passage of living necessities to all areas, for instance, through which the U.N., U.S., and Russia prove their good intents to the world.

To all intents, if this mass murder is going to continue for long, the world will see Arab countries, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in Africa transforming into a hub for across-the-board terrorism in which radicalism replaces moderation, and terror replaces rationality.

In 1546, John Heywood said, “Make hay while the sun shines”.

Would the free world rethink before late?


Mohammad S. Moussalli is a well-known Lebanese writer. He has a reputable journalistic experience, as commentary writer, with a renowned regional English daily newspaper and web-based gazette. He holds a long list of esteemed published articles, mostly centered on human rights, civil liberties, socioeconomic development and sociopolitical issues.

Mr. Moussalli is an independent management consultant with senior executive management experience in general trading and contracting in the Middle East and Gulf region. He devises reorganization plans and provides advice on business planning, administration, operations, pay and benefit scales, and many other issues.

Mr. Moussalli blogs at http://middleeasttribune.wordpress.com


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