The crisis in Syria has been continuing for nearly 2 years. The country in The Middle East & North Africa which seemed least susceptible to the Arab Spring has turned out to be the most catastrophic. The nature of the dictator, who at present rules, Bashir Al-Assad has turned out to be completely reckless & ruthless. He was the son of the much feared dictator Hafez Al-Assad. One can imagine that if his father had still been alive, none of this would have happened. The Syrian crisis, indeed the whole of the so-called Arab Spring has not only turned out to be a disaster but also a case of the law of unintended consequences. The Arab Spring was much welcomed. I suppose in the West we assumed that the system of government which we ourselves hold dear, that is what we call liberal democracy, would prevail. Western style democracy is a bit like Christianity used to be, when it was assumed that the whole world would be Christianised or maybe the Roman Empire which at one time was on the verge of hegemonising the entire world, at least the entire known world.
So what has gone wrong? Well, the two sides have cancelled each out. It is like most grandmaster chess games which when a dead drawn position is reached, a draw is agreed. The West (me amongst them, I have to say) which has so dearly yearned for The Middle East & North Africa to adopt Western Democracy, Western liberal democracy that is, has to admit that it isn’t going to happen in the next 2 decades at least. Bashir Al-Assad isn’t going to step down, at least it doesn’t look like it. What he seems to be counting on at the moment is that the West will decide that he is the best bet. This hasn’t happened yet but it may well do so in the end. The question of giving arms to the régime or to the opposition is a thorny one. Russia has, since the civil war broke out, sold arms to the régime. The West has held back. Direct intervention at this stage would be calamitous. That is to say, it would be even more calamitous than it has been in Iraq. Post Saddam Hussein Iraq can hardly be counted a success, glad as we all are to see the back of him. Saddam Hussein was the worst of dictators, the worst of rulers. He massacred thousands of people, mainly for no good reason at all. In fact he modelled himself on Stalin.
But since his fall from power & his demise Iraq has been chaotic with bombings occurring on a daily or almost daily basis. The website www.iraqbodycount.org which chronicles these bombings is worth looking at. But it is not for the squeamish.
The civil war continues. Much of the country is a wasteland. Photographs emerging from the country seem to show images of total destruction. Thousands of refugees have poured into neighbouring countries.
What could be called the Syria problem does seem to be intractable. This is what happens with civil wars when stalemate is reached. Who the Syrian people blame for this catastrophe isn’t known but I should image that Bashir Al-Assad has a lot more supporters than he did at the beginning of this tragedy.
It destabilises the region & in these days of globalisation this means this means that it also destabilises the entire planet.
Efforts are being made at mediation & this presumably means that it is hoped that either Bashir Al-Assad can be persuaded to step down or that the other forces at work in the country can be persuaded to work with him, that is to say that they can persuaded to allow him to stay in situ. Neither eventuality seems very likely really. The Arab League seems to have been particularly toothless. In fact it is hard to say what exactly it does stand for except the continuation of the status quo.
In the meantime holding a conference with the various antagonists in this tragic civil war is all we can hope for.
The Iran Iraq war lasted 8 years. There is every prospect that the Syrian war will last at least as long. In the meantime, what will be left of the country?