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Sunday, 12 June 2011

What to do about Syria?

I applaud William Hague's efforts to get a UN resolution on Syria. Although, given that we have ruled out military action, I wonder what, on its own, a UN resolution would achieve? I remember after China's Tianenmen Square massacre, hearing someone say: "I hope the UN throws the book at them!", and even then, in my late teens, I knew that it means little to give a dictatorial regime a dressing down in an international forum. They just throw the book right back at us, usually with half the pages torn out. The same goes for ambassadors being "summoned to the Foreign Office", like they care. But I still applaud the Foreign Secretary's efforts. Something is better than nothing, especially if a UN resolution is accompanied by further sanctions, for what sanctions are worth.

I am not calling for international military action in Syria; I could support it if it happened, but I am not calling for it. I understand the reasons why our government says that it cannot happen, not least because of the opposition of Lebanon (a current member of the UN Security Council), and a lack of unity at the Arab League. Lebanon, meanwhile, is continuing with the difficult, lengthy process of forming a government, a process that Syria's President Assad is making worse with his meddling, which is only the latest chapter in Syria's appalling history of interference in Lebanon's affairs.

What Assad is hoping is that the current crisis, which is causing immense suffering, will pass before the regime has fallen, and the world will then move on to to the next thing, leaving Assad in post. History sadly suggests that he has more than a fighting chance of achieving this.

UPDATE: Lebanon has now formed a new government, dominated by Hezbollah, which is terrible news for the Lebanese people, and great news for Syria's President Assad and the regional ambitions of Iran.

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