It is extremely frustrating to watch helplessly the daily death and destruction going on in Syria. We must find a way to move beyond this ongoing political paralysis and push for a creative option that would gain consensus and end the bloodshed.
More than 25,000 people have died so far, hundreds of thousands have been injured and detained and more than a million have been displaced. One cannot have an ounce of heart and not be horrified by these numbers.
Because of international political lock-jam, the rest of the world has been watching and all it has been doing is utter ineffective words of condemnation.
The situation in Syria has descended into a full blown civil war. A brutal regime with no sense of decency or respect for human life is willing to do whatever it takes to retain its 40 plus years hold on power. A fragmented opposition that started a peaceful uprising 18 months ago has become desperate in their desire to defend themselves and to remove the regime that they occasionally have been resorting to deadly and arbitrary violence. Amidst the chaos criminal elements have been exploiting the lack of order, robbing homes and businesses, kidnapping people for ransom and intimidating neighbourhoods.
This trend of death, lawlessness and cruelty is leading not just Syria but the whole region if not the whole world towards a dark unknown.
It is in the best selfish interest of everyone to act quickly to end the violence.
The longer the violence persists, the more entrenched hatred and hostility will become, the more difficult Syria will find peace even after the eventual collapse of the regime.
There is no consensus on military intervention among Syrian opposition, neighbouring countries and UN Security Council members. However, everyone including the regime emphasizes how committed they are to ending the violence.
The most effective way to stop the violence quickly would be to deploy a multinational peacekeeping force. Unlike the military intervention in Libya, a peacekeeping force proposal would require the consent of all parties on the ground before arrival. And unlike the previous UN monitoring mission in Syria, this contingent would be armed and in the thousands with the mandate to enforce peace if the ceasefire agreement is violated.
The ceasefire agreement would also suspend the regime's ability to detain people for getting involved in protests or political activities. Political prisoners should be released.
In 2006 after the Israeli military invaded Lebanon, both Israel and Hezbullah realized that they were stuck in an endless violence that would lead nowhere. An international peacekeeping force was then deployed to separate both sides and ensure protection of civilians. It worked.
The proposed multinational peacekeeping force for Syria should be made up of mostly soldiers from Arab countries. They would have a one-year term.
Peace, policed by an independent force will remove any excuse the Syrian regime uses to justify its excessive force. The regime should then focus on preparing the government for a genuine and inclusive transition. The opposition would also start focusing on articulating a vision for the future instead of expending its energy on fighting and/or defending itself from aggression.
Some elements in the opposition may reject the idea of a one year truce because they are keen on bringing the regime down today before tomorrow and would be reluctant to give the regime what may appear as another year in power. They also will distrust the objectives of the peace-keeping mission.
Those are legitimate concerns, but the intensity of violence, the rising number of dead and injured and the daily dangerous environment compels everyone to think creatively to find a way to immediately pause this hellish descent into chaos.
There are some supporters of the regime who are unhappy about the escalation of violence by both sides and are searching for a plan that would preserve Syrian blood and the integrity of Syrian sovereignty. Those voices should consider this proposal as a reasonable option that most could rally around.
From what I know about the Syrian regime, they will probably reject the deployment of such peacekeeping force. They will claim that it will be an infringement on Syrian sovereignty.
If they reject this proposal, it should reveal once and for all to those who are backing the regime that the regime is insincere about their desire to end the violence and protect civilians.
Canada could champion the idea of deploying a multinational peace-keeping force. Canada could work with the UN-Arab League new envoy and its allies to promote the proposal.
The Syrian regime needs to understand that such a proposal would be the last attempt to obtain their consent. If this proposal fails to gain traction then the international community can no longer stand by idly witnessing the slaughter of thousands of human beings.
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