Listening to president Obama’s sincere words that they were “not there yet” on deal over Syria, during their 90-minute meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20, only goes on to justify a new and open round of bloodshed in Syria in the dying months of his presidency. President Obama went on to elaborate that what is preventing the progress of the talks is a deep lack of trust between Washington and Moscow leadership.
Listening to President Putin insisting that further talks are needed with the Americans to reach a truce in Aleppo and that many obstacles remain. According to him, the US insists on calling some Syrian fighters as moderate opposition to Assad’s rule, which is delaying a ceasefire or outright settlement. All this means that such discussions between the super power and the not so super power are still in a limbo in relation to Syria and other pressing issues be it Ukraine, or the over drummed up war on terror.
President Erdogan of Turkey at the G 20 also reminded everybody that he is working with the Russians for a truce (only in Aleppo) to be announced prior to Eid al-Adha next week. He also alluded again to the need to establish safe areas inside Syria, if the international community is expected to get to grip with the refugees’ crisis and stem the flow far from the European shores.
Maybe chancellor Merkel of Germany was the most direct in voicing her expectation that the Russians could work with Assad to enforce a ceasefire. She bluntly revealed that Moscow enjoys the upper hand in matters that concern Syria and the Assad regime.
All these developments indicate how little progress has been made, even after five years of Syrian conflict. This is all the international community could muster in a bid to stop the killing in Syria after sitting and watching more than 300,000 Syrians killed, 5 million refugees in neighboring countries, and over one million in Europe. Another 6-7 million are internally displaced.
The bloodshed that started as Syrians’ peaceful rebellion against the Assad family’s 40-year rule gradually metamorphosed into a regime’s war on its own people, a war on terror, a Hezbollah war to protect Assad, an Iranian war to protect the Shiite, an international coalition against terror, a Russian war, and lastly a Turkish offensive against the Kurds.
The search for truce in Syria has replaced the search for peace as a norm.Mohamed Chebarro
For the past five years, we were led to believe that the common objective for the international community was to end Syria’s many wars. But peace remains elusive despite the best of efforts of all stakeholders and good intentions, especially those of Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
From Washington to the Kremlin, from Tehran to Ankara, and from the UN in New York to the EU in Brussels very little is said or thought about how to end the conflict or ask how the Syrians in the country or those forcibly displaced by ethnic cleansing in few cases or those outside the country perceive a possible end to the conflict. Even less is known about formulas for a New Syria spelled out by military and diplomats from Russia and the US.
The international community has failed to answer these questions. Obama, Putin, Erdogan and Merkel, to mention just a few, are evading the real questions by calling for truce, transitional period, and safe zones. These utterances suit their short term vision of how to contain a conflict that has become a proxy to many serious wars.
The Syrian refugees could descend on Turkey today and Germany tomorrow. Iran could continue to send troops and militias and so can Turkey. Moscow warplanes are unlikely to leave Syrian airspace soon and so are the planes of the international coalition fighting ISIS. But the state of denial with which all are treating the Syrian question is indicative of both a crisis of leadership, statesmanship and commitment to peace and order.
Hypocrisy has replaced policy. The search for truce has replaced the search for peace as a norm. And chaos has become a replacement to order. The Syrian question and its continued bleeding population is a microcosm of today’s world and its many societies.
Economic hardship, mixed with theories of fear, have won over the long held ethos of search for peace one way or the other and the need to be creative is its pursuit, or all is doomed.
Mohamed Chebarro is currently an Al Arabiya TV News Program Editor. He is also an award winning journalist, roving war reporter and commentator. He covered most regional conflicts in the 90s for MBC news and later headed Al Arabiya’s bureau in Beirut and London. He tweets @mochebaro