I have been writing for over a year now of the need to affirm and implement the Responsibility to Protect doctrine to help save Syrian civilians being massacred by the Assad regime. Everything that was predicted would happen in Syria as a result of international action has in fact resulted, but from international inaction. It is now as timely as it is necessary to increase pressure on Assad, and those loyal to him.
The atmosphere in Damascus' old city became just a little bit tenser at the start of the last week of Ramadan when Syrian army soldiers were deployed here for the first time since the revolution began in March last year. The soldiers were seemingly under orders to search various houses, especially those in which the few remaining foreigners live. The house I was staying in was one of them.
Replacing Bashar al-Assad in Syria is not sufficient. Shedding known problems for ones that are unknown is difficult. In Damascus, the ancient capital, or Aleppo, the nation's economic hub, exchanging a known set of difficulties (even terrible ones), for an unknown state of affairs is a fearful choice. But after the killing of four senior security officials in the very center of Damascus, the shelling of Damascus and the wholesale bombardment of Aleppo, perhaps the risk of doing nothing will finally outweigh the risk of the unknown.
In what can only be described as an act straight from the "theatre of the absurd," comes news that Syria is running for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. That Syria is able to even nominate for the UNHRC in the first place, let alone be in a strong position to win a seat, is reflective of the endemic problem with the body -- the fact that observance of human rights is no barrier to becoming a member.
Pragmatically, there is no need for outside intervention when it comes to Syria. Yes, a lot of people are being killed, but perhaps more would be killed if outside forces were used to despose Assad. And unlike conventional war, a revolution is a personal thing for those involved. When outsiders participate, the dynamics change. And revolutions never turn out the way those who lead them expect, or even intend.
Now that the UN has finally acknowledged that Syria is in a "full blown civil war," it's even more reason why we of the Western alliance should stay out of it. Harsh as it may seem, intervention would be a mistake. If we (meaning Western democracies) entered the fray, it'll be war by proxy and wouldn't curb bloodshed, but spread it.
Let's cut to the chase. NATO partners do not want to enter another war to overthrow another Arab dictator where the end-game is not clear. The West is cash-strapped and has Arab Spring fatigue. Let's start an overt and sincere effort to arm the Syrian rebels, and stop the niceties in face of this building massacre.
The UN Committee Against Torture and Terrorism is blaming Canada, and seeks compensation for three Muslim Canadians who were held and allegedly tortured in Syria. If you become a Canadian citizen from a country that does the sort of things Syria and Iran do, beware about visiting for weddings or holidays. If you take a chance, knowing full well what can happen, then it's your responsibility, not Canada's.