The Dynamics of the Crisis in Syria. Conflict Versus Conflict Resolution. (Part 4/6)
Dr. Christof Lehmann. –(Part 1/6)(Part 2/6)(Part 3/6)(Part 4/6)(Part 5/6) (Part 6/6) After more than 20 months of violent conflict in Syria a feasible solution seems farther removed than ever. The influx of fundamentalist Salafist or Wahabist fighters which have been streaming to Syria since the failure of two major Free Syrian Army assaults on Aleppo in June and July 2012 made it increasingly difficult to build a coherent and credible Syrian political and military opposition among the proponents of regime-change. The international anti Syrian alliance has difficulties in identifying a political or military opposition that could be used as an argument for regime change. The Turkish-Syrian conflict risks to spiral out of control with potentially catastrophic consequences for Syria, Turkey, Lebanon and the region. After the violence has begun spreading into Turkey and Lebanon, increasing the risk of a regional war with potentially global bearing, the containment of the crisis is becoming increasingly difficult. The international community is as divided as the Syrian opposition. The pressure is on all sides to resolve the crisis. Opinions about how to solve the crisis differ widely. The article offers the necessary analysis, suggests possible solutions and the potential consequences of a protracted and widening conflict.
The Joint U.N. – Arab League Special Envoy to Syria.
The previous section has elicited some of the systemic and structural problems with the United Nations which so far have prevented it from being able to play a constructive role at resolving the conflict. These problems with the United Nations have been underpinned by the appointment of Kofi Annan as the first Joint U.N. – A.L. Special Envoy. With the Arab League currently being dominated by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the post Arab Spring Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt, the problem is aggravated due to the fact that the the Arab League so far has been that of an instrument for belligerent parties against Syria.
Many independent analysts have considered the joint mission as being doomed to failure from the start. This section will analyze the problems and establish the potential for a more constructive role of the Arab League at resolving the crisis rather than aggravating it. The main problems with the joint mission are the following.
The Appointment of Kofi Annan as the first Joint U.N. – A.L. Special Envoy.
The appointment process to the office of the first joint UN-AL Special Envoy was criticized for its lack of transparency and for the lack of a structural and systemic approach that would guaranty that all belligerent parties were represented with greatest possible emphasis in conflict resolution and unbiased representation.
The final straw the broke the proverbial camel´s back with regard to the credibility and independence of this mission was the appointment of the former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to the office of the first Joint UN-AL Special Envoy.
Even though the subsequently adopted Six Point Peace Plan could, under other circumstances, have been a viable instrument for defusing the conflict and even though the subsequent appointment of Brahimi as successor after Annan could have provided more credibility to the mission in the eyes of untrained observers, the foundations of the mission were by most experienced and independent analysts considered to be so flawed, so problematic and so representative of the deep problems that trouble the United Nations that it was and is considered unlikely that this mission could play a constructive role with regard to solving the crisis.
The primary reason for criticizing the appointment of Kofi Annan however, was not the lack of transparency. It was the fact that it was during Annan´s term as UN-Secretary General that highly problematic constructs such as that of “humanitarian interventions” were adopted. Taking into account that key stakeholders and permanent members of the UNSC had sponsored UNSC resolutions which would sanction such an intervention and taking into account that the process which was initiated during Annan´s term as Secretary General has resulted in what many consider an explosion of international law at its very foundations, it is not surprising that the appointment of Annan discredited the mission before it even began its work.
It is also worth noticing that Annan was U.N. Secretary General during the crisis in former Yugoslavia and that Annan´s initiatives at the U.N. have resulted in an unprecedented deterioration of international law which is driven by the US and NATO and their refusal to abide by long-established principles of international law in all its aspects, namely peaceful coexistence, military conduct, human rights and others which have been established over hundreds of years.
A 2012 article by International Lawyer Christopher Black, Philosopher of Science James Henry Fetzer, International Lawyer Alex Mezyaev and Psychologist and Independent Political Consultant Christof Lehmann called, “South East China Sea, A Perfect Crisis for the International Crisis Group” details this explosion of international law at its very foundations. It is highly recommended to read this article in conjunction with part 4 of the present article to understand the full implications of this problem. 34
Annan is by many independent analysts considered as being representative for the undermining of the principles of non-interference into the internal affairs of sovereign nations which is enshrined in the Treaty of Westphalia and the Charter of the U.N.. Annan is also widely perceived as representative for the deterioration and undermining of the Geneva Conventions and the Haag Conventions and for the highly criticized Special Tribunals and the International Criminal Court.
In terms of real politic these problems manifested among other in the Arab Leagues illegal blocking of Syrian Radio and TV signals as described in the previous section of this article. Even though it was illegal that the Arab League pressured Arabsat and Nilesat into blocking Syrian Radio and TV signals, even though it was illegal that Arabsat and Nilesat stopped carrying Syrian Radio and TV satellite signals, and even though these acts were explicitly prohibited by U.N. Resolutions, some of which have been adopted subsequent to the second world war to prohibit the abuse of one-sided propaganda, the Joint U.N.-A.L. Mission failed to oppose these violations. (ibid.)
Other issues which have cast serious doubt over the impartiality of the mission are among other:
The missions failure to demand thorough investigations into the admitted and illegal state sponsoring of terrorist organizations which are active in Syria by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Libya, the USA, UK, France and other major stakeholders. Repeated calls for a cessation of hostilities while not acting upon the illegal sponsoring of terrorist organizations who refuse to adher to cease fire agreements is not the work of an honest broker.
Failure to demand a thorough investigation into the Turkish AKP government of Prime Minister Erdogan´s failure to halt the abuse of refugee camps in Turkey to house, train, arm and supervise insurgents; the Turkish governments allowance of massive arms shipments to insurgents via Turkish ports and airports; the distribution of arms under the supervision of Turkish military officers on Syrian territory as documented by numerous journalists and other serious violations of international law which aggravate the crisis are not the work of an honest broker.
The Joint U.N.-A.L. Peace Mission failed to take tangible initiatives to halt the illegal support of the political and military pro-intervention, pro-violence, pro-regime change opposition by major stake holders such as the USA, the UK, France, Germany and others, while it failed to involve a vibrant and active anti-interventionist, anti-regime change, pro-reform movement in Syria. It failed to involve any of the legitimate political parties in Syria as well as peace movements, youth movements, religious leaders, clan leaders, and other Syrian stake holders who have been engaged and still are engaged in a constructive and peaceful approach to solving the crisis and to implement reforms.
The Joint U.N.-A.L. Peace Mission has in other words been representative of an Arab League which is politically dominated by belligerent parties and a United Nations which is in a political stall mate between two blocks of the permanent members of the Security Council. Two blocks which can be reduced to a block which wants to continue the explosion of international law at its foundation and the abuse of international law for lending apparent justification to illegal wars of conquest, and a block which opposes this abuse and argues for a return to national sovereignty and the peaceful settlement of disputes.
The most critical failure of the joint U.N.-A.L. Peace Mission however, is its failure to address the primary causes for the conflict, that is, to address the lack of convergence in the energy and security interests of what could best be conceptualized as two cartels of which the European Union, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, Turkey, the USA and Israel on one side, and Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine on the other side are the stakeholders. A peace mission which does not address the primary causes of a conflict can at best succeed at stumbling from cease fire to cease fire while the country that is being attacked continues to suffer the consequences of the attempted subversion.
Primary National Stakeholders and Geo-politics.
While the primary cause for the crisis in Syria, its aggravation and persistence is related to energy and security concerns which will be analyzed in subsequent chapters, and which also contains a primary key to solving the crisis peacefully, it is necessary to first analyze the regional and global geo-politic factors which are at play regardless of the primary problem.
Solving either the one or the other without taking all factors into account will most likely lead to a continuation of the string of political failures and conflicts that have troubled the Middle east for decades. The following section is an brief appraisal of these geo-political factors in a nation by nation approach, including not all, but the primary stakeholders.
Syria is in many respects the most important link in what Tehran describes as the axis of defense against imperialism and Zionism. Simplified, this axis could be reduced to Iran, Syria, Palestine, the Lebanese resistance including Hezbollah and Russia. In terms of real politic this reduction however is not really a feasible political instrument.
It is a fact that Syria is the sole Arab nation which consistently and consequently has supported the Palestinian cause. Syria and Syrians have paid a high price for this solidarity which is particularly true for the Syrians who are living in the Israeli occupied Syrian Golan. A 2012 report of the WHO on health conditions in the occupied Golan (36 and the UNGA Human Rights Councils Universal Periodic Review (37 indicate that the conditions Syrians suffer in the occupied Syrian territories are comparable to those in the Palestinian West Bank.
Both the post 2012 Syrian Constitution and the new Syrian Constitution which was adopted after a referendum in 2012 grant extensive rights and protections and secures equal opportunity for ethnic, political and religious minorities. Syria also grants extensive protections and rights and equal opportunity for women. Syria is, compared to most if not to all of its Arab neighbors a very open and liberal country.
While it is correct that the country has been governed by the Baath Party under emergency laws for too long, which Syria´s President Bashar Al-Assad was one of the first to admit after the onset of the Arab Spring and popular calls for reform, it must be taken into account that reform is not possible if or when it compromises national security.
As detailed in part 1 of this article Syria has, in spite of decades of a de facto war with Israel and in spite of the attempted subversion which began in 2011 succeeded at developing a vibrant political spectrum of parties and special interest organizations which could provide a basis for a free, open and tolerant society if Syria succeeds at overcoming the foreign backed insurgency.
The Syrian coalition government has demonstrated that it is not only willing to cooperate with any opposition party or special interest group as well as with any foreign nation which respects Syria´s national sovereignty, national coherence and need for security.
A disintegration of the Syrian Arab Republic, as it is planned and pursued by among other the USA would have catastrophic consequences for human rights, freedom and democracy and so far Syria has, in spite of attempts to saw division between ethnic groups shown a not surprising resilience against attempts to balkanize the nation. The best example for the national coherence of Syria is the fact that the Kurdish National Council of Syria and Kurdish parties consequently rejected Turkish attempts to attract the ethnic Kurds in Syria to join the pro-regime change alliance. Kurds in Syria are acutely aware of the oppression the Kurdish population suffers in Turkey.
A disintegration of stability and security would render the country in a state of civil war which could last decades. It is highly improbable that this instability would be contained to Syria. The most likely scenario would be a subsequent destabilization of Lebanon, Iraq as well as Turkey. This destabilization of Syria would serve Israeli interests and US American interests who perceive it as a stepping stone toward the weakening of Iran and Russia.
From a European perspective this scenario would have severe security and energy security implications and as it will be shown below, Europe cannot and is actually not interested in this destabilization. In fact, there is a lack of convergence between European energy and security concerns and US-American and Israeli interests who are more likely to benefit from a destabilization of Syria.
Was it not for a lack in convergence in energy and related security requirements between Russia and the European Union and was it not for the considerable influence which the Israeli influenced US foreign policy has over European foreign policy decisions, it is likely that European governments would pursue a far more peaceful and cooperative strategy. More on this subject in part 4, 5 and 6 of this article.
Dr. Christof Lehmann is a psychologist, independent political adviser and consultant with 30 years experience on the highest levels of international politics, geo-politics, conflict and conflict resolution. He is a lifelong advocate for human rights, peace and international justice. Christof Lehmann is a frequent contributor of articles to print and online media and is the owner of the blog nsnbc – no spin news. He can be contacted at Dr.Christof.Lehmann@Gmail.Com .
- Black Ch, Fetzer J. H., Mezayev A., Lehmann Ch (2012); South East China Sea, A Perfect Crisis for the International Crisis Group, nsnbc, 12. August 2012. Accessed online at http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/south-east-china-sea-a-perfect-crisis-for-the-international-crisis-group-3/
- Ibid. Lehmann Christof (2012) The Dynamics of the Crisis in Syria. Conflict Versus Conflict Resolution (Part 2) “The Manufacturing of Consent with the Interventionist Discourse”; nsnbc, 26. October 2012, accessed online at http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/the-dynamics-of-the-crisis-in-syria-conflict-versus-conflict-resolution-part-2/
- WHO Health Conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, East Jerusalem and the Occupied Syrian Golan. Published online at nsnbc at http://nsnbc.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/who-2012-health-conditions-in-the-occupied-palestinian.pdf
- UNGA Human Rights Council; Universal Periodic Review for the Syrian Arab Republic – 2011; Published on nsnbc at http://nsnbc.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/un-upr-syria-2011.pdf