SIR – There can be no military solution to the Syria conflict. These words need to be chiseled into the mindsets of international political leadership.
President Trump’s reactive strike to the chemical attack is more about being seen to be tough, the tit-for-tat approach to the Syria crisis, couched behind the of language of non-tolerance and crossing red lines.
The chemical attack that took place last week in Northern Syria was barbaric, an abhorrent breach of international humanitarian law, but it is only the latest atrocity committed in a war that has been ripping apart Syria for six years, where an estimated 50 unguided barrel bombs filled with explosives and shrapnel, designed to inflict maximum indiscriminate death and destruction, are dropped daily.
Gassing innocent civilians demands a response. The question is, ‘is this the right one?’ Blowing up the air base in Homs will do little to protect civilians or end the conflict. If anything, this takes us further along a new deeply uncertain path.
Concern’s recent ‘Shattered Lives’ report put a spotlight on how, after six years, conflict has now seeped into every aspect of daily life for people in Syria, whose number one fear is of bombs and explosions in the market and everyday public places.
Trump’s action will not end the war, it is just another misguided militarised strategy, but he is not alone.
War mongering has been prioritised over peace-making among UN Security Council members since the war began, compounded by inconsistent and oppositional agendas. This is first time in 64 years, since the Korean War, that four of the five Security Council members have directly engaged in an ongoing conflict.
If the Council had put one tenth, or even a hundredth, of the effort and resources into stopping the war as its members have put into engaging in it, Syria would be in a different place and many more people would still be alive today. Countless resolutions, ranging from condemnation of hostilities, curbing arms supply to Syria, and ensuring humanitarian access, have been systematically blocked. Even those resolutions that do get passed are ignored.
The events of this week further polarise those involved in the conflict, compounding what we already know: that there can be no military solution to this war. Now is the time for the generals to step aside and let the diplomats come together with a collective determination to bring the war to an end.
Creative thinking, including full international backing of the UN Secretary General António Guterres call for a ‘surge of diplomacy’ to end conflict is urgently needed.
Diplomacy seems to have disappeared and is being drowned out by the drumbeat of war.
In a month when we ourselves examined the path of peace taken by Martin McGuiness, it should be a reminder of what can be achieved when we put the guns aside and start talking.