Published on June 19th, 2013 |
by Robin White
Image © Syrian Air Force Ensign
in·ter·vene: Verb – to come between so as to prevent or alter a result or course of events.
The buzzword for the G8 this week is undoubtedly going to be ‘intervention’; more specifically intervention in Syria. William Hague has already conceded that the current humanitarian crisis in Syria is fast becoming THE humanitarian crisis of our time and, as such, it is a matter of utmost importance that Syria comes to the table at the G8. However, the lessons of Afghanistan and Iraq remain fresh in the minds of many and direct military intervention seems to be an unlikely occurrence.
Indirect intervention on the other hand is a very real possibility in the near future, made ever more likely by the lifting of the NATO arms ban. The question is surely then in what way will this intervention come? Will the foreign secretary suggest that Britain starts to officially arm the Syrian rebels or is the time for a more direct military intervention approaching? One thing that is clear is that any decision will create huge amount of opposition from all sides. Boris Johnson for example has written in the Daily Telegraph this week that arming the rebels would be nothing short of disastrous. It is after all widely known that within the rebels exist extremists with links to Al-Qaeda. Without any doubt the Prime Minister does not want to see a situation in a few years where he is explaining why a British soldier has been killed with a weapon provided by the British. Many people have quite rightly pointed out that the weapons given to the Taliban to fight the Soviets in the 70’s have been widely used against NATO forces.
Yet it is also a fact that doing nothing condemns tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Syrian civilians to death and exile. The current UN estimates are for 100,000 deaths and 1.5 million refuges. Those statistics bring to the fore the truly harrowing nature of the situation that is unfolding and if the rest of the World fails to act then that situation is only going to get worse.
Compounding the situation though is the support Russia is showing for the Assad regime, which although not proven, is reportedly using chemical weapons against both rebels and civilians. With Russia selling arms to the Syrian government any support in terms of arms shown to the rebels would only lead to an arms race. That above all else is a situation that must be avoided. With major countries providing huge numbers of arms to both sides this Civil War could escalate and millions of innocent Syrians could lose everything.
Clearly this situation is one in which there are no winners and I for one do not envy the decision that Hague and David Cameron have to make. Intervention will not mean that people won’t die, they will. However, without intervention the Civil War will almost certainly drag on longer and far more people will be killed or displaced. The situation is one that is fast becoming untenable and whatever decision they come to there will be those who disagree, but still they must come to a decision and soon. The sooner they decide on a course of action the better for the innocent people of Syria.
Ultimately it would be a disaster to send arms to one of the two sides, but intervention can be achieved without armament. Britain as a nation in 2012 was named the nation with the most soft power in the World. That is how intervention in Syria can be achieved, by using the power we have to unite nations in calls and demands for peace. To use the position we have achieved not simply for the betterment of ourselves but for the betterment of all. It may be that military intervention will one day be needed in Syria but in the modern World it is necessary to exhaust every alternative avenue before choosing that path.
The G8 summit has the unique opportunity to genuinely change the World and more importantly save the lives of those that cannot help themselves. This conference contains the so called ‘great’ nations and if they want to live up to that branding then the discussion needs not to be on tax, immigration, financial markets or any number of political matters. It needs to focus on the lives of those 1.5 million refuges and even more importantly those countless numbers still trapped within Syria. For the leaders of the G8 this is a genuine chance to make their marks in history and do something for which they could be genuinely proud.
Please note that all blog posts do not represent the views of Catch21 but only of the individual writers. We also aim to be factually accurate and balanced across all content taken as a whole.