Is the Syrian Revolution Bad Timing?
The 'Slow Motion' International Community
Photo : http://www.thefearofbreathing.com
"The international community needs to take immediate action after the massacre in Houla and take all necessary measures in order to protect the Syrian civilians." The Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Araby refers to a community that has been waiting for a cease-fire in Syria for more than 15 months. As we all know this "action" has not taken place and the question of intervening in Syria has been in the middle of world politics for a while now. Certainly world leaders, particularly the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, are right now confronted to an enormous choice of options and decisions to take, at the same time in a local and global context.
The United Nations has been working in a belated peace plan for Syria, which Bashar Al-Assad is not counting to apply. We have to keep in mind the fact that the Al-Assad’s dynasty has been in power since 1970 and that they are part of the Alawi Shia minority, while the Sunni three quarters of the population are categorically asking Al-Assad to step back. The clashes that have taken place since last year are the consequence of a crack of the weak balance imposed for more than 40 years. So a peace plan, talks or negotiations from the international community are not going to be enough to turn over a strong military dictatorship, ideologically close to Iran, in an opened diplomatic State all of the sudden. The Syrian leader has been using his military power to assure his preeminence in the region for generations, but also he’s managed to use the country’s resources for his own benefit where he has done all the necessary to stay in power, by concentrating all the coercion mechanisms in his hands.
As for the context in the international community it can be summarized the following way: In France, François Hollande, the new leftwing President has to prove at home why he’s a better option (or not) than previous Nicolas Sarkozy. Hollande will have to seize a stable majority in Parliament in the legislative elections coming up soon, that’s why he must keep for now his distance with irrational spending. Barack Obama in the United States is still in the middle of his reelection campaign. He will very soon face the electorate and he cannot afford to step in a war, with all the social movements inside the country and the international tension, while several countries are still facing the consequences of the 2008 economic crisis which was originated in the United States. In the United Kingdom, David Cameron in the UK is confronted to a delicate economic situation as well, even though he’s out of the Euro zone, but it mustn’t be forgotten how unpopular the Iraq war became into the English's eyes, punishing his predecessors but also Cameron himself in national elections. Iraq can even be considered as one of the reasons of Cameron getting a shallow Parliament and being sharing his seat with Nicholas Clegg, a liberal democrat vice-minister.
They are all confronted to a huge economic crisis that since 2008 has raised unemployment, debt and uncertainty inside their countries but also all over the world’s economies. So why are the actions of these world leaders so relevant for a possible intervention in Syria?
On the other side of the negotiations’ table in the UN Security Council we find other countries with less economic restrictions like China and Russia. They have particularly given a very strong support to the Syrian leader, opposing each resolution that could lead to a military intervention. Lately in a reunion that took place in Beijing, between these two nations presidents, Vladimir Putin and Hu Jintao they firmly stated that they would repudiate any foreign military intervention that "would force the regime to change".
In Latin America, specifically in Venezuela, the question waiting to be answered is Hugo Chavez’s health condition, only 3 months before the presidential election. In a very particular context, where there’s a complete lack of resources transparency, as well as of institutions. Hugo Chavez has not only shown full support to regimes like the one of Bashar Al-Assad, but also he was, back to the days, close to Muammar Gaddafi, Hosni Mubarak... Chavez is also one of the few world leaders still close to Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who supports himself the Syrian regime. This last one has even been able to survive partially thanks to the energetic supply that Venezuela has been providing all along the Syrian massacres in spite of the international embargo.
There hasn’t been so far, one single government capable to take an actual leadership to battle against the Syrian civil war, where the slaughter is almost exclusively against civilians. The question is: why Iraq (or recently Libya) and not Syria? The answer must have something to do with the importance and the quality of the oil in Iraq, so that in 2003 everybody was willing to "liberate" this country.
The International Community, gathered in the United Nations, has a polarized vision; still the "big decisions" take place in the Security Council, where economic interests have a protagonist role. But they have doubted for so long of taking serious actions that it might be for some too late, still how many more Houla massacres will there be before something is finally done?
According to the international relations analyst Shashank Joshi, "There is little international appetite for a military intervention, although this could change if, say, Syria's chemical weapons are displaced or - worse - used." But wasn’t this the main argument for an intervention in Iraq? Though we know how that ended, chemical weapons were never found. Does the international community need to feel threatened to actually react or are they actually considering putting a date soon, to end Al-Assad’s reign of terror?
 "Syrian president condemns Houla massacre, rejects accusations", CNN June 3rd, 2012
 In 2006 in Syria more than 35% of State’s Budget goes to armament and defense.
 "Russia, China renew opposition to foreign intervention in Syria" CNN June 6th, 2012.
Frustrated Over Peace Plan, Nations Regroup on Syria" NY Times, June 6th, 2012.
 "Is Syria becoming the new Iraq?" CNN May 31st 2012.