Is the world’s reaction to the Syrian war still seasonal?
Syria's fate has been left for the Russians to decide
After a considerable time the world’s focus has shifted from terror-plagued Iraq, to Syria’s ongoing war, which is seemingly now the number one problem on the international agenda.
The current experiences of Iraqis and those also in Lebanon, Europe - and who knows where else – are then indisputably the result of the world’s inaction on war-torn Syria.
Politically speaking, the deadly attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the wider Western discourse on terrorism was what directed the world’s attention again towards Syria's three-and-a-half-year war.
Solely for humanitarian reasons, the deadly winter storm that hit Syria and the Syrian refugee-hosting countries - Jordan and Lebanon - has also resurrected the world’s “frozen conscious” on the large-scale suffering of the Syrian people. But the fear is that the long-awaited eagerness of the world for work on Syria might be short-lived, and could be just a reaction to new developments.
Syria's fate has been left for the Russians to decideRaed Omari
The Syrian crisis has previously come close to seeing international action in similar developments. But what was thought of as an emerging decisiveness, has apparently disappeared shortly afterwards, leaving the troubled countries vulnerable to any hostilities. I believe the world’s action on Syria has proved to be seasonal, reaching a climax only during winter and at times of security spillovers, as has been experienced most recently in Europe.
The Syrian crisis is now under the spotlight of the Western press through its coverage of the recent events. These have included anti-terror raids in Belgium on suspected extremists returning from Syria, and talk of terror sleeper cells in Spain and other European countries.
It was put in a form of unmistakable conviction by France’s President Francois Hollande during his recent speech at the Arab World Institute in Paris in which he said the “abandoned” Syrian war was the direct cause of security woes experienced in Europe, Libya and elsewhere.
But is now the time for an intensified effort in Syria by the West, given the apparent emerging belief in Europe of the inseparable connection between security incidents across Europe and the war in nearby terrorism-fertile Syria?
The European response has so far taken the form of anti-terror precautions, manifested in crackdowns on suspected radicalized citizens, believed to be planning attacks after returning from Syria and Iraq. Such internal European measures are certainly needed, but should be accompanied by an external comprehensive strategy jointly seeking with other partners, a solution to Syria’s war.
Russians take the lead
But an action plan for Syria has yet to be announced by the Americans and Europeans. Instead the Russians are taking the lead. Bizarrely enough, Syria's fate has been left for the Russians to decide.
The warring parties - the Bashar al-Assad regime and the Syrian mainstream opposition - were poised to meet for peace talks in Moscow, but the opposition shunned the prospective negotiations this week. Regardless of whether these talks take place or not, they are not expected to be fruitful. I believe such peace talks will definitely end in failure, simply because they will be hosted by the Russians in Moscow who support Assad and oppose his departure - a demand that the Syrian opposition say is not up for negotiation.
The U.S.’s stance on the planned Moscow talks between Syria’s warring parties later this month is ambivalent. As Washington imposes sanctions on Moscow, it is said to be supporting the inter-Syrian peace talks.
“We hope that the Russian efforts could be helpful,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was quoted as saying.
What really adds to the absurdity of the situation is Washington’s decision to go ahead with a military training program for the moderate Syrian rebels. It might be that Washington is sure of the unfruitfulness of Moscow’s talks and that is why it is insisting on rebel training. But its general position on Syria’s war is still below what others, especially the Europeans, expect from them.
All in all, the Europeans might be busy now with their internal issues but they should soon widen their anti-terror strategy to reach Syria in cooperation with the Americans and other Arab partners.
Raed Omari is a Jordanian journalist, political analyst, parliamentary affairs expert, and commentator on local and regional political affairs. His writing focuses on the Arab Spring, press freedoms, Islamist groups, emerging economies, climate change, natural disasters, agriculture, the environment and social media. He is a writer for The Jordan Times, and contributes to Al Arabiya English. He can be reached via email@example.com, or on Twitter @RaedAlOmari2