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Declarations and posturing while death continues unabated

The Syrian people have found themselves saturated to the point of despair with international pronouncements and strategic stances that descend upon them from every corner. The United States warns, Turkey threatens, France alerts, China invites, and Russia hints. 

14 September 2012

Barack Obama, who is in the midst of contesting the fast approaching presidential elections, does not seem to find much in the Syrian catastrophe and its countless victims to perturb, save his pitiful remarks reserved for the use and transportation of Syrian chemical weapons. This is in itself a consequence of the trepidation expressed by America’s chief strategic ally, Israel. Despite Netanyahu making clear his leanings towards the Republican candidate Mitt Romney, Obama remains hopeful in his ability to garner enough media and electoral support for this to have a minimal effect.

In France, Nicholas Sarkozy commenced internal French discussions vis a vis Syria accompanied by his poseur-cum-publicist Bernard Henry-Levy (or vice versa). Meanwhile, his successor and current French president Francois Hollande began to show an interest in Syrian events only once his summer holiday had ended, whereby he blessed us with a series of pleasantries including his hopes for a unified and widened Syrian opposition, in addition to further remarks on the necessity of a transitional government.

The case differs in Turkey, where the Syrian situation is less likely to fall victim to the machinations of political contestation, to come second to the interests of a strategic ally, or to be utilised as a tool against a preceding incumbent. Syria has been allocated a significance and prominence that has reignited the friction and turmoil that is ever present between the ruling party and its opposition. For the first time since the establishment of the modern Turkish republic there is an absence of political consensus regarding a foreign political situation. In order to dispel an already combustible situation, the political leaders have thus far refrained from inflammatory rhetoric and the crossing of any red lines.

Conventional diplomatic de rigueur aside, the Chinese negotiate with economic issues taking utmost precedence. Their declarations are very carefully calculated and weighted against gold, besides being closely associated with visits by foreign dignitaries that involve concessions on a myriad of issues, the latest of which was by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton last week, followed swiftly by a Chinese pronouncement calling for political transition in Syria.

As for the Russians and their indecipherable positions taken amongst the fog that has descended upon this conflict, they are currently expert contortionists in diplomacy, playing against time and employing a certain chicanery in their engagements. Their apprehensions concerning democracy and political Islam along with narrow self-interests are interconnected and woven into a mesh of issues that has its origins in the former totalitarian state, while escalating to strongly influence Russia's economic and other goals post-Soviet Union.

All of these countries with the addition of others will help with humanitarian/relief work (with the definite exception of Russia and China) and will support the as yet unclear role of Lakhdar Brahimi. Is he an intermediary? If so, between whom and whom? Or is he a special envoy from a regional institution whose presence is nothing more than a decorative facade or an international organisation that is in grave need of immediate reform? As was the case with his predecessor Kofi Annan, the support his mission engenders is not out of a desire to see tangible success, but a cover up sought to disguise the collective international failure in adequately addressing and resolving the Syrian issue, along with the cycle of death that accompanies it. 

Translated by Haider Abbas

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