Thursday 17 August 2017

Video: Diplomacy is now just a sideshow in Syrian revolution

Adrian Hamilton

Don't be fooled by the outraged cries coming from London, Paris, Washington and now the UN Secretary General over the Russian and Chinese veto of the resolution on Syria.

True, it spoiled the careful build-up of diplomatic pressure organised by Western and Arab governments. But it's also quite convenient to put all the blame for the continuing escalation of violence in Syria on these two countries, Russia in particular.

Of course, President Bashar al-Assad must welcome the fact that he escaped the censure of the UN. But does anyone think for a moment that, had the resolution passed, he would have instantly ceased bombarding Homs?

The Syrian government isn't deploying the heavy weaponry so deplored by UN chief Ban Ki-moon and US President Obama just as an exercise to cow the civilian population which can be turned on or off at will. It's using it to crush any centre of resistance or independence.

If the Assad family and its supporters weren't willing to stop the onslaught even when observers from the Arab League were present, they certainly wouldn't just because of a UN vote.

Force

Given the growing armed strength of its opponents, the regime in Damascus must feel it has no alternative but to suppress the revolt with full force.

Mr Assad may make all the promises he likes to the Russian foreign minister about stopping the violence and talking to his foes. He may even think he means it. But only once his regime has won on the ground.

Diplomacy in these circumstances is just a means of western politicians to sound as if they are "doing something" about a situation that anguishes their public, but about which they can do very little without direct military engagement.

Regime change is the name of the Syrian game now. It's far too late to talk of negotiated settlements. The question is whether it can be achieved quickly on the ground without full-blown civil war.

The best hope is that a horror at the casualties will combine with a middle-class conclusion that the Assad rule is doomed to produce an insurgency which sweeps away the government.

The more likely development is the arming of the rebellion by the religious groups in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, eased by Turkey and very probably helped clandestinely by the US and Britain. In either case, diplomacy is now but a side-show. (© Independent News Services)

Irish Independent

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