Syria: the futility of diplomacy

It seems that UN envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi is still convinced of the effectiveness of soft diplomacy and of rhetoric, in coming up with compromises to put a halt to continuing Syrian homicide.

It seems that UN envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi is still convinced of the effectiveness of soft diplomacy and of the efficacy of embellished expressions, in coming up with compromises to put a halt to continuing Syrian homicide. He believes in obtaining approval from the various local factions, with their differences and disagreements, and from an ‘international’ backing weary of its own ineffectiveness, which yearns for a solution at any price, even at the cost of forcing prejudicial agreements or scenarios which would handicap the future of Syria, or ones that would contribute to the development of the seeds of social revenge in all its shapes and forms.

If life is a matter of pride, it seems that Brahimi has outdone this principle and does not want history to remember him, not even in modest comparison with Kofi Annan, who early on jumped the diplomatic ship after recognizing his impotence, which is linked to the lack of international support for his role, once he realized that his task would only be a conduit to the prolongation of the crisis until such time when exhausted factions let themselves sink into oblivion or Syrian division.

Of course, I do not expect Brahimi, who is in the autumn of his life and career,  to express the wishes and aspirations of the suffering Syrian people through his tours. Such expectation would be seen as political sentimentality regarding those who suffer. He is not, by definition and in practice, responsible for these. However, in spite of his mediatory role in the crisis, he is at the very least expected to be humane, and to take a few positions which could be worth recording in history books -  something less cautious and diplomatically harsh than his recent statements made in Damascus, ‘to please the porter without receiving a grain of grape’. 

As an employee of the UN, we can't hold him responsible for the impotence of an international force, or for the negligence of political and security leaders in Damascus when it comes to human lives; or for the failure of the Syrian opposition and its different factions to reinvent the wheel and put into place a clear and honest vision of what will become of the future Syrian nation.

However, it is absolutely necessary that history hold responsible all those who contributed to reinforcing the suffering of victims; and to reject all those who contributed towards the prolongation of the crisis; and keep its memory intact of the moral responsibility of all the forces that assisted, from near or far, in the mitigation of people's rights and the acquittal of culprits responsible for so many assassinations.  Delayed awakening could be fatal, though.

Recorded memory is not only a part of a people's internal transitional justice in the aftermath of their authoritarian or colonial occupation ordeal; it is also an existentialist tool to be recalled after decades and centuries, to record situations and evaluate performance and the moral accountability of principal culprits. Human memory will not forget the responsibility of all those who contributed to fostering the suffering of Syrians and the prolongation of the duration of the killing.  Syrians will establish museums of memory, in which the names of executioners and victims, as well as those who were silent about their deaths will be recorded.

About the author

Salam Kawakibi is deputy director of the Arab Reform Initiative

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