Annan resigns over UN failure to intervene while Jihadists act

Kofi Annan’s resignation proves the United Nations cannot resolve the Syrian crisis diplomatically and its role must change.

Kofi Annan had a tough job. Trying to enforce a peace plan with a lack of observers against a regime hell-bent on cracking down on its opposition. And all this against the backdrop of indecision within his own organisation.

In an article in the Financial Times Annan said: “The international community has seemed strikingly powerless in its attempts to influence the brutal course of events – but this is by no means inevitable.”

The truth is the International Community has begun to act. But this isn’t a reference to Barrack Obama signing a supposedly ‘covert’ order authorising US agencies to support the Free Syrian Army (FSA) or Saudi Arabia providing cash. It’s relation is to al-Qaeda and other Jihadists taking action.

Al-Qaeda and other groups have not been dormant since bin Laden’s death.  A new foothold has been established in northern Mali. Historic buildings have been desecrated and an unmarried couple have been stoned to death for committing adultery.

Both the FSA and the Jihadists want Assad to be removed; but both seek a different future for Syria. This clash of ideologies will determine the future of the region- even if the proxy war develops.

There are arguments that the violence brought by a UN intervention would lead to an unstable transitional period followed by sectarian violence. It is more than likely this will occur anyway, the issue is who will combat it?

The Assad regime is witnessing it’s final days – if the word of analysts is to be believed. Even if the regime remains intact, the violence will continue. It will have to suppress any dissidents as well as a new wave of Jihadists. If the FSA take control further clashes will result except the remnants of the army and an exhausted FSA may have to combat a new insurgency.

In his FT article, Annan closes with: “Is ours an international community that will act in defence of the most vulnerable of our world, and make the necessary sacrifices to help?”

The UN was created to prevent great power conflict. Much like national militaries must assess the changing strategic landscape, the UN must adapt to civil wars and popular uprisings.

As the battle for Aleppo, and the future of Syria and the Middle East as a whole rages on, the UN must realise its failure to decisively intervene will lead to clashes it cannot hope to control.


Syrian military uses heavy weaponry in village of Trenseh

Syrian troops have killed at least 200 people in an attack on the village of Tremseh.

Russian Mi-24 Hind Helicopters

The number of dead is yet to be confirmed, due to the restrictions imposed on journalists by the regime.

However, the UN has confirmed that tanks, heavy artillery and attack helicopters were used in the attack, which has bought further  condemnation of the al-Assad regime from the US, UK and France.

Ban Ki Moon,  UN Secretary General, said the acts of violence: ” Cast serious doubts on President al-Assad’s recent expression of commitment to the six-point plan.”

Later in his statement, the Secretary General called on member states to take collective and decisive action, saying: “Inaction becomes a license for further massacres.”

As I’ve previously discussed; this action must take the form of military intervention as it is the only thing the Syrian regime seems to understand.

This leads to my second point; the Syrian regime continues to say armed terrorists are responsible for the violent killings. Is this the legacy of the War on Terror?

Will oppressive regimes label acts of violence against systematic state oppression as terrorism – a concept that hasn’t been clearly defined – in an attempt to justify their actions?

As the International Community continues to debate on the best course of action, the violence continues.

Recent intelligence suggests the Syrian military has moved chemical weapons, including cyanide and sarin, to the Homs region.

The fear now is how these assets will be used.

The regime could use the gas as a deterrent against any planned intervention as a counter-value target. In other words, if you intervene we’ll gas Homs.

If any action is to be taken; it must be taken swiftly and it must be taken now.

Syria and the U.N.-successful Response

The Syrian Situation has gone on long enough.

Attacks in the Houla area last weekend resulted in the deaths of 32 children and over 60 adults.

The deaths are the latest in a campaign that has been waged since the unrest began 15 months ago and has been met with widespread condemnation by the international community.

With pressure increasing against President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime to face justice this begs the question as to when should the U.N. intervene in the affairs of another sovereign state?

Article 2.7 of the U.N. Charter states that:  “Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state.”

But when the institutions of a state are turned upon its own citizens then a serious breach of sovereignty has occurred.

Articles 2.4/7 are later contravened by Article 42 which states: “It [the Security Council] may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security.”

This statement may prove more potent than first thought. It was used to justify the intervention against Iraq when it invaded Kuwait in 1990 and against Serbia in the mid-90’s.

It becomes more relevant as sectarian violence is showing signs of escalating in Lebanon.

Alawites, a Shia sect of Islam that supports Assad, have clashed with Sunni’s who support the Free Syrian Army.

The Middle East is volatile enough without further sectarian violence spilling onto the streets of Lebanon.

It is clear that further intervention must be imposed but what form should the intervention take?

The main penalty which the U.N. seems to dispense like paper towels are economic sanctions.

Recent reports from Syria’s oil minister estimate that economic sanctions have cost the Country $4 billion and have led to a shortage of  fuel, sugar and other essentials.

This underlines the problem. Sanctions against a dictatorship do not work.

Economic penalties hurt the people rather the regime as they can still afford luxuries through extortion and privilege. The only thing a dictatorship understands is the use of force and the impact that force can have on its power.

This leaves the issue of military intervention but this is stacked high with difficulty.

First is the question of Russia. The former Soviet Union has close military links with Syria. It supplies the regime with arms and trains military personnel in exchange for a naval base in Tartus.

By removing the Assad regime from power, the U.N. may risk diplomatic escalation as a new government may not take kindly to the fact that Moscow had been supplying its oppressors with military aid.

Russia may, therefore, lose the benefits of its Syrian agreement. Even U.N. Peace Keepers seizing weapons may prove as a tipping point in international relations.

The second problem is who would intervene?

Any intervention by Western powers may be met with further suspicion from the Islamic world as part of the ongoing ‘War on Terror’ and attempts by the West to weaken Islamic regimes through the establishment of democracy.

Daft as this may seem, it is is real issue and must be addressed by the U.N.

The best answer to this issue is to get Arab and African League nations to provide troops to protect civilians. But as events in Libya showed, these institutions lack the political will and military expertise to contribute a decisive military element.

This would most likely result in Western Air power providing the bulk of the force perhaps implementing designated ‘safe zones’

But with economic matters taking priority and a lack of political willpower to intervene, the fate of more Syrian civilians hangs precariously with the Syrian Army.

Many in the West have become wary of the prospects of military intervention but how many more events such as Houla must occur to grab the worlds attention?