Friday 19 January 2018

Sometimes war is the honourable thing to do. It's time to act in Syria

There is a ghastly feeling of deja vu about the current dilemma of whether the use of chemical weapons on the civilian population in Syria justifies military intervention by Western powers. Obama's "red line" may indeed have been crossed, yet there is a clear reluctance on the part of the United States or any Western power to become embroiled in another military adventure in this highly volatile region.

But like it or not, this is a critical moment in the 29-month-old Syrian civil war. Will it result in international intervention mandated by the United Nations? Given alliances there, it is more likely to be a NATO-led intervention led by the US, France and the UK.

If involvement by the Assad regime in this chemical weapon attack on civilians is verified by the belatedly authorised UN weapons inspection this week, regional priorities and strategic alliances with Russia and China will not be disturbed. This crisis is not only a civil conflict within Syria's borders; it is a proxy war with implications for the entire region and power blocs. All the more reason, therefore, for universal human rights norms to be upheld and for the rules of war to be adhered to.

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