The Syrian Question

What if Syria were an African country? Would there be so much deliberation, delay and hesitation in kicking Al-Assad out of power? President Al-Assad has, since last year when the Syrian crisis took a dangerous twist, killed tens of thousands of people to whom he should be providing the good life. Only two weeks ago, the embattled dictator allegedly used chemical weapons, outlawed as far back as the late 1940s, to fight his citizens who have been asking him to step down from the office he has been occupying for 13v years. But almost two years after the horrific manner of slaughtering innocent protesters and rebels fighting against his dictatorship, the powers are yet to have a sleepless night over Syria.

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But Africa has not been that lucky. Two years ago, the world powers put up a sustained NATO military instrument in Libya to pull down the government of Muammar Ghaddafi. Until Ghaddafi was killed like a common criminal and the country was thrown into a state of perpetual turmoil with no definitive and clear system of government, a collapsing nation where suicide bombings and terror activities now take the centre-stage, NATO did not hand off. Three years ago, Ivory Coast had its own tragic episode when France and its allies, using rebels loyal to Alassane Ouatarra, bulldozed Laurent Gbagbo out of power. Gbagbo has now become the first leader that would be dethroned and immediately rushed to the international criminal court on the grounds of war crimes.

Where the western powers do not show concern, the ruling class and the frustrated people are left in a no-holds-barred situation to fight each other to a finish, like it was in Rwanda in 1994, Congo and Central African Republic. The peace operations in such places are usually in an observer position and are as such rendered ineffective in preventing the mass murder that has always been the case.

In the case of Syria however, Bashar Al-Assad has enjoying so much of respect from the world powers. Russia has been shielding him from UN sanctions, and several European nations, probably out of fear of the political and military backlash from Russia and its Islamic allies, are undecided or unconcerned about how he deals with the situation. The United States has become the lone voice that pushes for a radical and decisive end to the Assad systematic assassinations. Yet it took the US so long to come out more boldly against Assad, and now that it has done so, the nation is divided and taking its strides with more caution.

The US lawmakers have given their vote for a decisive strike in Syria. But the US citizens are warning their government to desist from such acts, citing the capital-intensive but failed attempts in Afghanistan and Iraq as examples, and asking for a government that should be more bothered about fixing the growing insecurity caused by abuse of the right to carry firearms, slippery economy and the raging controversy about healthcare and tax policies. The US government is also applying more caution as its foremost rival, Russia has directly warned it against attacking Syria, a warning the American nation cannot afford to ignore in view of the hard-line leftist position of Putin and the propensity of the administration to jolt the US and world with an overt military support for the pariah Syrian regime.

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Syria has thus become a problem for the world. It has posed a complex situation and hard nut to crack. Yet, Assad continues to mow down the opposition with the full military might of the government, killing harmless civilians, particularly children and women. In one fell swoop, 1, 300 civilians were murdered by the use of chemical weapons. Such daily killings are accompanied by destruction of homeless and hood life. There is a growing number of internally displaced persons and emotional torture of the mass of people. This thus gives a grim picture of gross violations of human rights and by extension the worst scenario of war crimes. What then is the world waiting for as the reign of terror continues?

The current Syrian problem is reminiscent of the Syrian Question of the 19th century. In the height of the Eastern Question, Turkey had lost its vast empire controlled from Constantinople and Byzantine. Turkey had also lost its allies and territories. But Egypt stuck to its ally and struck an agreement, the Kuturck-Kaneiji, with the Turkish Sultan that Egypt would give full military backing to Turkey and save it from the imminent dismemberment canvassed and plotted by the western European powers from the 1840s. But this was on one condition: Turkey would hand over Syria, an eastern outpost Egypt had always wanted, to the Egyptian leader. Turkey got the backing and dealt a decisive blow on the Franco-British advance. But after the momentary victory, Turkey tried to renege on its gentleman’s agreement and a fresh crisis brew with Egypt over Syria.

The Ottoman Empire at the apogee of its power,

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