Passive Assistance to Syria's Murderous Tyrant
"That doctrine [Responsibility to Protect" R2P] says that whenever there is a situation of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and, God forbid, genocide, and the country in which it takes place is the author of that criminality there is a responsibility to intervene and protect the innocent civilians. And I think we have defaulted on that -- not just Canada, the international community -- with respect to Syria."
"While we've been focusing -- as the Trudeau government has been doing, understandably -- on the issue of welcoming and providing sanctuary for the refugees, we've been dealing with the consequences of the killing fields and not the causes."
"Those of us who three years ago were writing a bout this responsibility to intervene were told that if you intervene, this will lead to civil war, this will lead to sectarian strife, this will lead to jihadists coming in. Everything that we were told would happen if we intervened, happened -- in my view, because we didn't intervene."
Irvin Cotler, former Canadian Member of Parliament, former Liberal Justice Minister
|Aleppo, after phosphorus attack by Syrian warplanes, June 2016 -- The Source|
Ironically it was a previous Liberal government that initiated and backed the doctrine of R2P, with then-Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler ushering it through the United Nations to general approval and acceptance. The tragedy is that it has seldom been invoked. And when attempts have been made to undertake the mission to protect populations under threat by their own governments, those attempts have been stalled and silenced by the non-cooperation of Security Council permanent members Russia and China.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad responded to a peaceful series of protests by Syrian Sunnis who wanted nothing other than to be treated as first-class citizens of their own country, on an equal par with President Bashar's Alawite Shiite Syrian citizens. For their unmitigated impudence in questioning the regime's social and cultural priorities, a crackdown ensued, of a wholly violent nature where even children who dared to write criticism of the president on the walls of a school were detained, tortured and murdered.
Since 2011, the Syrian regime has quelled the unrest of a major portion of the population by violent means. In the process using warplanes and helicopter gunships and troops to fire on protesters whom their president speaks of as scum and 'terrorists'. From targeting civilians in their neighbourhoods with bombs and sniping at them in bakery and food lineups, to releasing chemical gas bombs and barrel bombs filled with deadly shrapnel, Bashar al Assad's military has succeeded in killing over 300,000 Syrians.
Europe has been overrun by the presence of desperate migrants fleeing from the oppression and depredations of their Islamist governments, even as Syrian refugees have fled refugee camps and temporary haven in the cities of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt to find refuge in non-Muslim countries. Millions of internally displaced Syrians wait without hope for their country to return to a state of normalcy, although much of its infrastructure has been destroyed and ancient monuments to the past have been levelled.
The entrance of jihadist terrorists who have their own designs on the future of a truncated Syria have made life even more miserable for ethnic and religious minorities who find protection only from within Kurdish enclaves whose militias are the only successful regional opposition to the presence of these murderous groups, foremost among them the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. At a time early in the rebellion when it would have made sense for the West, NATO and the U.S. to arm the Syrian Sunni rebels, there was hesitation.
Now those same rebels are moderately armed and a U.S.-led coalition has been bombing ISIL posts and military barracks and munitions depots. But the die has been cast, the murderous ideology of the primitive jihadis in Islamic State have succeeded in spreading the pathology of their poisonous hatred throughout Europe and North America, Asia and Africa and the Middle East. The caliphate may eventually be destroyed but the vicious religious ideation that propels them will live on.
And the other vector for sectarian hated and unbridled violence is free to pursue its agenda of recapturing what it can of the territory it defends from its own people. Where the UN's duty to impose the R2P doctrine did not succeed because those who might have made that choice, to defend an entire population from the barbarian onslaught of its murderous dictator felt too uncertain an outcome might result, and in that hands-off gamble, allowed a cancer to metastacize.
One more venue where the Russian Federation's Vladimir Putin has been able to defy world opinion and ally Moscow with Damascus, accepting the reality that a president may brutalize his people as long as he remains amenable to aiding and assisting the aspirations of another, more powerful nation to attain territorial advantages as an outlier, but one that has successfully kept its peers on tenterhooks of apprehension, manacled to indecision.
Photo: Muhammad Qurabi al-Ghazal/Amnesty International