Friday, July 29, 2016

The Syria Challenge



In Syria the challenge facing us is about bringing a terrible conflict to an end and containing the humanitarian disaster that it engendered. It’s not about identifying the moderates, or sifting moderates and extremists. After 5 years of fighting and intervention from a myriad international and regional power, armed with conflicting agendas and no desire to compromise, there are no moderates to be found on the battlefield. There are, however, millions of innocent civilians that need protection, and tens of thousands of prodemocracy activists who cannot lift their heads because, at this stage, they are being targeted by all: IS, Al-Nusra, Islamist rebels, and, most assuredly, the original extremist/terrorist group, and still the biggest of them all: the Assad regime and its loyalist sectarian and mercenary militias funded by Iran and backed by Russia’s airpower.

The idea of focusing on destroying IS rather than ending the conflict is ludicrous magical thinking. As long as the conflict rages on in Syria (and Iraq), and as long as killers like Bashar al-Assad are allowed to act with impunity, the battlefields will continue to attract and produce extremists who will continue to pose a serious security threat to the world.