WILL NATO, RATHER THAN THE UN, END THE CONFLICT IN SYRIA?

Now the conflict in Syria has been going on for months and, at the moment, there seems to be no hope in sight for the end of the conflict. Having began only an uprising against an authoritative government, the situation quickly turned into the ethnic conflict that we are witnessing today. The UN, divided within itself and hence unable to unanimously agree to a permanent or even temporary solution to end the conflict, has been unable to intervene and bring an end to the daily slaughter of civilians; which has led to the death of very young children and women. Additionally, there have been reports of women and young girls being sexually abused by members of both the government forces and the rebels.

Recently we have seen the conflict somehow spill into neighbouring Turkey. Over the past few weeks, Turkey has become increasingly agitated with the Syrian regime. As the fighting intensifies inside the Syrian border, mortar shells have landed into the Turkish territory on several occasions and caused death of Turkish civilians. Following this, Turkey has made clear it’s position on it’s relationship with its neighbour and has joined other voices calling for President Bashar al-Assad to step down and give way to another more  ‘human rights sound’ regime.

Turkey, being a member of the NATO alliance, has turned over it’s frustration to the alliance and appealed for assistance to have its border protected from the fighting in Syria. Turkey has argued that its border is under threat from Syria and consequently requested that NATO deploys Patriot anti-missile systems in order to protect its border. NATO has wasted no time at all and has said that it will consider the request forthwith. This response immediately communicates to the world not only the concern of the alliance over the Syrian violent conflict situation, but also the unity of the alliance. A clear warning to the Syrian regime to take charge of its own matters and avoid disturbing the peace of its neighbours. The alliance has shown that it is ready and willing to deal with Syria in a manner that the UN has not been able to, in order to maintain international peace and security. NATO’s involvement in the Turkey-Syria issue has certain implications for the conflict in Syria. Should the Syrian regime  fail to take control of the conflict situation by avoiding the conflict from spilling over the border into Turkey, NATO will not hesitate to retaliate, on behalf of Turkey. This will either worsen the situation inside of Syria by causing more deaths and displacements, or will finally spell an end of the conflict in Syria if NATO takes a tough stance against the Syrian regime and takes it upon itself to forcefully remove Bashar’s regime.

However, how capable is the Syrian regime of avoiding conflict from spilling over into Turkey. The Syrian regime is currently embroiled in fierce fighting with rebel forces whose only objective is to remove President Bashar and install another regime. The two parties are working hard to take over and control key cities within the state. To the Syrian regime, stopping the conflict from spilling over into Turkey is not a key priority at the moment. They are only able to handle external issues once they have effectively dealt with the issues at home.  As long as there’s fire at home, the neighbours will have to wait for the fire to be quenched and that whatever can be salvaged from the flames has been safely situated away from the fire. The neighbours in this situation are required to patiently put up with the consequences of the fire. That is, any dialogue between Syria and Turkey to stop any shelling, accidental or intentional, of Turkey’s border towns could prove futile.

On the other hand, how far would NATO be willing to get involved in the Syrian conflict in order to protect the Turkish borders? Getting involved in the Syrian conflict in any extent, will require the investment of resources. Whether the alliance will stop after providing the defence missile systems or after taking out Bashar, a lot of financial and human resources will be required.  Majority of the NATO member countries are going through tough economic times and are having to cut down their budgets heavily in order to get their heads out of the waters. With the tough economic decisions that are having to be made at home, will there be any countries that will be willing that more money be spent on dealing with the Syrian conflict? It will be political suicide for any head of state whose government has put in place austerity measures to contribute finances towards efforts to deal with Syria. On the other hand, this is the perfect situation with which to derail a populace from the sinister economic crisis around them.  With the current poor economic situation, removing President Bashar from power might prove a worthy cause.  This is also an opportunity to showcase the unity and might of the alliance.

Is There Any Hope, Whatsoever, For UN on Syria?

Hope for Syria, at any level, seems to diminish very fast, with every passing day. I have restrained myself for a long time from writing about the on-going Humanitarian crisis in Syria but I cannot help it any more; not because there is an endless flow of negative news in the media almost daily, but because I am appalled by the despicable behaviour of our world leaders. I, like many other people, had hope that ‘things’ would get better sooner than later – not the opposite; ‘things’ getting worse sooner than later. Our hopes have been crushed severally and continue to be trampled upon day after day by world leaders of the so called international community. I hoped that the horrific memories of mass murder and the shuttering Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, the effects of the war in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and recently the massive Human Rights violations in Libya- which motivated the international community to call into force, for the very first time since it was adopted by the UN, the Responsibility to Protect, would cause the UN and other international bodies to respond faster and more appropriately in Syria. Sadly, we are yet to learn or maybe we have just forgotten, as time has gone by and some of the scars have begun to heal.

President Assad,since the beginning of the crisis and revolt against his regime, has continually been involved in the process of buying more time from the international community in order to commit more murders and other Human Rights violations against the citizens of Syria. We have all unfortunately witnessed as the situation has got out of control with thousands upon thousands having been killed within a period of one year and two months. From suppressing a political revolt in the country through violence, Mr. Assad has managed to bring the country to the point of a civil war, all incredibly in the full glare of the international community.

The Responsibility to Protect (R2P), which was reaffirmed by the United Nations Security Council in 2006, clearly states that it is the primary responsibility of a state to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and their incitement. In the event that a certain state fails to raise up to achieve its primary responsibility, it is the duty of the international community to assist the said state in doing so, in order to protect the populations of that state. Prior to the R2P, states maintained that because they were  independent and sovereign, they had ultimate dominion over what happened within their state borders, including the welfare of their citizens and how they they treated their citizens, and for a long time that remained so because if a state wanted to have its sovereignty respected, it had to show respect to other states’ sovereignty by refraining itself from getting involved in the states’ internal matters.

Consider the war situation in Libya which involved various Human Rights violations and resulted in a number of deaths   as Gadaffi mercilessly held onto power and denied Libyans a fair democratic system. Within a period of less than one year, the United Nations responded and rightly so, ending the plight of Libyans and saving them from the evil plans of Gadaffi and his forces. There are various speculations which have been offered for these actions and I do not aim, in this article, to add or discuss any of them but I would like to point out that some of the reasons cannot be completely dismissed as mere speculations when we compare the situation in Syria today and that in Libya last year.

The international community is fast loosing its credibility and its relevance might be at stake in terms of its responsibility of maintaining  international order and peace. Straight away, when comparing both situations (Libya and Syria), we note that the UN has been inconsistent in carrying out its principles. It has clearly been discriminate. There were no calls of non-intervention in Libya on the grounds of Libya ‘is an independent and sovereignty state, so you cannot interfere with its internal matters’ Instead, the UN security Council danced to a different tune: ‘It does not matter whether Libya is an independent state, the R2P points out that it has in fact, as a state, lost its sovereignty because it has engaged in massive Human Rights violations against its populations and failed to fulfil its primary responsibility. Therefore, we can indeed use force to end the atrocities and spare the lives of Libyans and uphold their Human Rights.’

What then, is the difference between Syrians and Libyans? Is the difference in the land on which they rest and walk? The geographical location of their land? Why are some populations more equal than others, more deserving of their Human Rights than others? I dare to ask: had the events, which we witness today in Syria, been  unfolding in Europe,would we witness the same reluctance and lack of political will from the international community as we are now? In the early 1990s, we witnessed a horrendous act of genocide in Rwanda, a small East African country which by then was poorly developed.  The international community did as little as it possibly could to stop the murders and in late 1990s, violence erupted in the Balkans, a part of Europe which at that time could not pride itself as economically independent and developed. This time, the international community did all it could, all that was within its power and with-out its powers to stop the violence and save the face of Europe. Without the express authority of the United Nations Security Council, the forces of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) used force to end the conflict in Kosovo. These events took place well over a decade ago, but to many others, the events are fresh in our minds, the terror experienced by victims and the loss suffered by survivors remains.

We might argue that the above events that I have described happened a long time ago and that there were lessons which were taken from that but there is no evidence for that. Any lessons that have been learnt in relevance to international Humanitarian intervention have long been forgotten and any hope of digging up some of the lessons to reapply them in the contemporary is futile. We exist in a realistic world system and  states are out to attain their national interests, anything beyond that – Human Rights of other citizens included, which do not add to the overall goal of attaining national interests is irrelevant and must be avoided in order to save resources for more worthwhile activities. The United Nations Security Council is unfortunately divided on how to deal with Syria’s case because each state is far too interested in attaining its goal of amassing maximum national gains.

Human Rights is for all human beings existing on the universe by virtue of being human. If this were true, Libyans, Rwandans, Liberians, Kosovars, and Syrians are rightly entitled to all Rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Many believe we are all equal but we have to prove we believe in what we say and mean it. The United Nations has mandated itself with the role of maintaining international peace and order. Right now, with violence engulfing Syria, that mandate is not being fulfilled, Syrians have been neglected by the international community and Human Rights have failed to prevail over national interests. I hope the twain shall meet sooner than later.

Why The Deafening Silence On Syria; In The Midst Of Loud Gun Fire And Civilian Weeping.

The blame game is over, no more pointing of fingers at who might be to blame for the ongoing carnage in Syria. The US and its allies in the United Nations Security Council have cooled off, so to speak. Russia and China are no longer being publicly rebuked for vetoing the UN  resolution on Syria early this year. Yet, the people of Syria continue to suffer and die in the hands of their leaders. A lot has been written on the suffering of Syrians especially of those living in Homs. Their homes and their bodies have been turned into battle fields where the regime fights its opponents. Children have been killed and men butchered  to weaken one side, kill their spirits and weaken their minds and bodies. I write today not to add one more article of the same or to provide an insight on why President Assad has turned his army against his won people, this was my initial intention. However, today I write because I think we need to rethink our international system. We have created for ourselves a system so strong on the one hand, that it will favour whoever it wills. And on the other, a system so weak that it will turn away help even when destitution and desperation faces it in the eyes.

We all have rights by virtue of being Human. Everyone has a right to live. But not everyone is equal, at least in practise. Some are more privileged to enjoy more or all of the very rights that we are all entitled to. It is not their fault and we have no right to question why they enjoy those rights for surely they are entitled to them just like we are. They are only lucky to have been chosen by other more privileged Humans that we ourselves have put in place to check and moderate that Human Rights -our Human Rights are respected wherever we go on the planet Earth.

The international system, made up of states with the sole purpose of fulfilling their national interests, has unequivocally disregarded the very people who make up the states. State sovereignty and the value of non- intervention have been upheld higher than any Human Right will ever be held. I have come to a heart -breaking conclusion, that states will not hesitate to watch an entire nation or peoples of a state other than their own, be wiped out; only turning their heads away in irritation when the wails and screams become too loud to ignore. The United Nations Development Programme in 1994 tried to convince us of a new way of thinking about security – away from the conventional security of the state to the Security of people living in those states- by introducing the Human Security framework for security. The Human Security framework identifies several security concerns that citizens of a state should be protected from and live free from but this is of no practical use for the state is the only provider of that security. The state will ultimately choose whether or not to provide the security and also pin point who exactly will receive that security and to what extent.

We might be lucky, if as citizens who are oppressed in our own country, are chosen – picked out for rescue – by the few privileged powerful states running the international system. This however, will only happen if they unanimously agree that we are worth saving. In the meantime our fate lies in the hands of our state, for its elites to do as they will and to accomplish -who knows what- national interests and in who’s interest.

The deafening silence on the ongoing massacre in Syria is a sign of failure of our international system. We have privileged a group of people above ourselves in the believe that we cannot all be rulers and in the hope that they can and will make just decisions when we need them to save the lives of our mothers and daughters, our fathers and brothers  and our unborn children. I strongly believe we need to desperately rethink out international system.

The gun fire and the civilian weeping I am afraid, only falls on deaf ears as far as the international system is concerned. President Assad’s regime has lost political legitimacy and theirs now is task, bloody yet to be, to regain it and to  build a nation that will bow at its feet and dance to every tune it will play.

Post colonialism And Gay Human Rights In Africa.

The issue of  Gay Human Rights has recently dominated the diplomatic relations between Africa and the West. In an earlier article, AU Summit 2012:Gay Human Right And International Aid In Africa, I discussed the complex relationship between foreign aid and the respect of gay rights that is being advocated by the US and the UK. I argued that linking foreign aid to gay Human Rights would be a negative development for the developing countries in Africa who relay heavily on the aid for economic growth.

Homosexuality is not only a taboo topic in many African states, it is also illegal, bearing a sentence as heavy as a death penalty in some countries. At the same time, there is a growing community of homosexuals in Africa who are now more vocal about their sexuality. It is therefore becoming increasingly difficult for governments to ignore them as they come together and demand Human Rights equal to those given to heterosexuals in their respective states. Their efforts have, not surprisingly, faced enormous challenges with traditional regimes disapproving the idea that gay rights are equal to Human Rights. In Uganda,  for instance, the government has managed to suppress the efforts of gay Human Rights groups and activists and is in fact calling for more stringent sentences for homosexuals in the country.

Homosexuality is a reality in Africa and African leaders need to acknowledge and address it appropriately without violating the Human Rights of its citizenry. The purpose of this article however, is not to act as a cri de coeur for Gay Human Rights in Africa but to explore the question: On whose terms should gay Human Rights in Africa be addressed?

“If the Americans think they can tell us what to do, they can go to hell.” Ugandan presidential adviser John Nagenda told the BBC in response to the US  threat that it would cut foreign aid if Uganda did not work towards respecting gay Human Rights. Although this statement clearly delimits the agenda on gay Human Rights in Uganda, Mr. Nagenda’s  view is one that I believe resonates with many other African politicians and leaders. Africa’s two main religions include Christianity and Islam; both of which are strongly against the practice of homosexuality. This in itself presents great moral and political challenges in not only accepting homosexuality as legal but also in upholding gay Human Rights.

Gay Human Rights is the new face of post colonialism in Africa. The West is displaying its dominance over African countries  by focusing on the continent’s apparent disregard for gay Human Rights. The paradox however, lies in the fact that the West is not in fact a safe haven for  gay communities in terms of Human Rights. In America, for example, homosexuality is not recognised by the federal government and some states. Gay communities in these states are  faced with a constant struggle for the freedom enjoyed in other states by their counter parts. Nonetheless, the West has managed to depict African leaders as backward in matters of Human Rights and in dire need for Western tutelage. The West is not interested in holding dialogue with African leaders to work out a possible solution for the situation. It has set itself highest in the hierarchy of civilizations hence it doctrine is supreme and nothing that can possibly to added to it would make a difference anywhere in the world.

The West also shows it dominance in its choice of  language to communicate  its intent to African leaders. It uses threats and force to carry messages across. It has seen it fit to threaten African leaders with foreign aid cuts,a certain way to grab their attention. To the West, threats is the only language that the African leader will understand and act upon.

Gay Human Rights in Africa should be driven by the African people themselves together with their leaders. Whether the peoples’  or the political will is there is another issue altogether. Should America and other Western states wish to genuinely  advance the case for gay Human Rights in Africa, they should first and foremost put their houses in order. Threatening to cut foreign aid to governments, which they have in the first place made dependant on for economic growth, is blatant double standards on their part. Secondly, in view of the fact that they themselves have not been successful in assuring gay Human Rights for all their concerned citizens, they should recognize the difficulty in addressing the issue at the national level and open dialogue between themselves and African leaders.

Un-learnt Lessons From Bosnia and Herzegovina And Rwanda

It’s impossible to watch the events unfold in Syria and more recently in Homs city without hearing the echo of the promises spelled out after the Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereafter, Bosnia) and Rwanda massacres. The Srebrenica massacre  in Bosnia took place as the international community looked on, as well as the Rwandan genocide in which 800,000 Tustis and moderate Hutus were killed within a period of only 100 days. Following the events, the international community vowed never to allow a repeat of such events. Indeed, they  tried to put their words into action when  NATO intervened in Kosovo to end Milosevic‘s ethnic cleansing campaign in Kosovo.

Today we are forced to ask ourselves, in the midst of the on-going diplomatic wrangles concerning the situation in Syria, two very important questions. One, whether indeed the international community learnt any lessons from the bloody events in Bosnia and Rwanda. Second, what will it take to stop the massacre in Syria and restore the dignity of the people of Syria?

The killings in Srebrenica were as a result of violent aggression by Serb nationalists led by Slobodan Milosevic who aimed at expanding the Serbian territory to include Serbs who were living in Bosnia. Troops were deployed in Bosnia during the crisis but were not allowed to use force to defend the Bosnian Muslims, who were the primary target of Milosevic’s violent campaign. The troops watched helplessly as young Muslim men were massacred by the Serb nationalists. In the case of Rwanda, a country too small and too poor at the time, the violence did not intrigue the interest of the West. A small UN force led by Lt. Gen Romeo Dallaire was however, dispached on a UN mission as a show to the world that the international community was doing  ‘something’ about the conflict. The force was too small in number and had limited resources to make any substantial impact to end the bloodbath and they too, watched as thousands of Rwandans were massacred.

Ensuing the events that I have described, were promises by the international community that it would never again sit back and watch as humanity suffered as it did then. Despite the UN expanding the mandate for peace keeping forces to use force in order to maintain peace, today it does not amount to much especially if there is still no consensus on their deployment. The United Nations Security Council had been looked upon by the Kosovars in 1999, as Milosevic waged an ethnic cleansing campaign against them, but failed to deliver as the permanent members were divided on how to respond to the crisis. NATO intervened as a matter of saving its credibility; using air power and no ground forces to defeat Milosevic.

The events in Syria today grimly remind us of an international community which once watched as humanity suffered day in, day out until no more blood could be spilled. The massacres in Bosnia and Rwanda left an indelible dark mark on modern history and as more violence ravages the cities of Syria, it is becoming clear that Syrians have been abandoned and little was learnt from the violent conflicts in Bosnia and Rwanda. The international community still has a long way to go in order to be entrusted fully to carry out the responsibility to protect citizens terrorized by their own governments. How much more blood needs to be spilled however, painfully remains in their hands.

Syrians Should Give Up?

This week has been declared the worst in the on-going Syrian revolution. It has been the bloodiest since the revolution began as the Syrian regime has terrorized its people in a way never envisioned. Following the withdrawal of the Arab league and the matter being referred to the United Nations Security Council by the League, the regime in Syria has blatantly interpreted the events as a right to forcefully quieten the revolt. The city of Homs, which was one of the cities in Syria to first hold Anti-Assad protests and the hiding place for army defectors, reported deaths of up to 55 on Saturday alone as the regime tried to reclaim the area from army defectors.

The United Nations Security Council on Saturday also saw the resolution against Syria defeated as Russia and China vetoed it.  What this means is that the Security Council is incapable of directly intervening in Syria to end the on-going carnage. On the other hand, for Mr. Assad, this means that he can do whatever he pleases and sees fit to bring ‘order’ to Syria. Russia is a strong ally of Syria and this move did not come as a surprise and was actually expected as Russia had in the previous week publicly warned that it would not support the resolution in its present state which required especially, that Mr. Assad steps down. Beijing for its part, maintains that the situation in Syria is not a matter of international security – the core business of the UNSC- but an internal matter of the state of Syria and therefore has no place in the UNSC agenda.

The question then arises as to whether the time has come for Syrians to give up on what they have been fighting for, for about one year now: the fall of an oppressive regime and a democratic country. It has undoubtedly been a very hard and dangerous road for Syrians. Hitherto, 5400 lives have been lost and more continue to be claimed as the regime works day and night to rid the country of  anti-government campaigners, who they now call terrorists.  The Arabs seem defeated on how to deal with the situation and the United Nations Security Council is constrained by its  very own internal systems to make a significant decision that will save the Syrians’ dream.

The Arab Spring, which inspired the Syrian revolution, is based on people coming together and speaking up against oppressive regimes . It is important to understand that the Arab spring has had varied effects in different countries. In Tunisia, where it has its origin, it led to the fall of the regime and paved the road for democracy. In Egypt, it had a similar effect whereby Mr. Hosni was also forced to leave office and the country is now on the road towards democracy albeit with significant challenges. It is the case of Libya that is similar to that of Syria although the results cannot be compared at the moment. In Libya as in Syria, there was significant support for Muamar Gaddafi by the army forces and this was invaluable to the regime in resisting and combating the revolution. Possibly so that had there been no intervention by the UN and NATO forces, Gaddafi would have succeeded in suppressing the revolution in Libya. Clear national interests of Western countries were at play in the case of Libya and it did not take too long for the international community to come up with a solution that would ensure their control of oil reserves in Libya.

The regime in Syria is aware of the complicity that exists in the violation of Human Rights, by the international community hence it will do all it can to see an end to the Syrian revolution while it still has a chance to. With Russia especially supporting the regime, we cannot rule out the possibility of the Syrian revolution coming to a stand still or to an actual end. The US, Britain and France have expressed great disappointment and anger about the situation but we are yet to get signals that point to a tangible solution to end the massacre taking place in Syria and fulfil the hopes of the people of Syria.

 

 

Syria’s Dashed Hope

The continuing conflict in Syria took an unexpected turn of events late last week after the Arab League decided to suspend its monitoring mission in Syria. The Arab League, citing continued violence and deterioration of the overall situation in Syria, urged the United Nations Security Council to intervene to bring an end to the on-going carnage. The United Nations Security Council has however, failed to provide a quick and resolute answer to the conflict which many fear will soon develop into a full blown civil conflict.

Talks held by the United Nations Security Council yesterday (01-02-2012) ended in deadlock as Russia and China failed to support the resolution against Syria. The resolution, among other things, calls on President Assad to step down and this essentially means a change in the Syrian regime.  Both Russia and China have publicly expressed resistance towards the resolution and are expected to veto it. Russia, a great ally of Syria, has emphasized that its policy does not support regime change. China, on the other hand, continues to view the events taking place in Syria as internal matters of a state which the Security Council should not interfere with. China argues that the uprising in Syria is not a matter that threatens international security. The interference by United Nation Security Council in the situation will be tantamount to violation of Syria’s sovereignty and right to self determination which will be in violation of the United Nations Charter and the basic norms guiding the practice of international relations.

In spite of mounting regional and international pressure, President Assad has not been motivated to stop Human Rights violations in Syria and his government remains solidly behind him. Since the Arab League suspended its monitoring mission, President Assad has tightened his resolve to curtail the  Syria Uprising. There are reports of increased violence in many parts of the country as the Government army reclaims regions where the army defectors hold. According to the BBC, The Local Co-Ordination Committee (LCC) said that on Tuesday, 37 people had been killed-including two children and five soldiers who had defected from the army.

With the UNSC talks having reached an impasse, President Assad is likely to use this opportunity to do all he can,which he has demonstrated as violence towards Syrians, to stop the Uprising. As I had pointed out in an earlier article, The Arab League Abandons Syria, President Assad is likely to remain unchanged by the international events such as the talks by the UNSC. For as long as Russia and China do not support the resolution, Mr. Assad has a free reign on shaping the future of Syria as he wills. The UNSC talks will be used as a way of buying more time and the current impasse is, but a huge opportunity for Mr. Assad to carry out more violence against his people if that is what is going to take to end the Uprising.

As violence continues, there is fear of a civil conflict as ‘things’ could easily get out of hand. President Assad’s family, which belongs to the Alawite sect – an offshoot of Shia Islam,  has been in power for 40 years. Although Mr. Assad has opened up the economy, he has maintained a tight leash on the freedom of expression; jailing critics and controlling the media. The Country’s 20 million population is mainly Sunni. So far the biggest protests are said to have been taking place in Sunni -majority areas and if the prevailing situation is not taken control of, it could easily read as a preamble to a civil conflict in Syria.

 

AU Summit 2012: Gay Human Rights And International Aid In Africa

The African Union met on Saturday (28-01-2012) to inaugurate the new AU Headquarters. The building in Addis Ababa is now the tallest building in the city and cost $200m to complete.  The building was funded and built by the Government of the People of China and is seen not only as an investment but also as a symbol of the growing Sino- African relationship.

In the recent past, China has shown  enormous interest in developing economic ties with African nations. It has been involved in numerous construction projects in different parts of Africa such as in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Senegal. Human Rights groups have heavily criticised the developing relationship accusing China of supporting oppressive regimes in Africa. Through offering Aid and other gifts to governments in  Africa, which are considered by the West to be oppressive, China is indirectly supporting Human Rights violations in those countries. This is an important aspect of African development which I wish to discuss at another time. I would like, at this time, to bring to attention the remarks of the UN Secretary General on the respect of gay Human Rights in Africa while at the AU summit.

Ban ki-Moon pointed out that although confronting discrimination faced by the Homosexual group is a challenge, states mustn’t give up on the ideas of the Universal Declaration of  Human Rights. Gay Human Rights has a short, scarred and battered history in Africa. In many African nations gay Human Rights are not respected. In addition, homosexuality is illegal in these states. This is in fact an issue that has been avoided by many heads of states and the few Human Rights activists who have attempted to bring into light the need to confront the discrimination faced by this group have faced imprisonment and even death in some African nations.

Mr. Ban’s remarks come only a few months after Britain and the United States threatened to withhold aid to anti-gay nations and is seen to add pressure on the heads of states to ‘do something about it’. With the current wave of Human Rights sweeping in all directions, this could only be the tip of the ice berg and African heads of states should expect to feel more pressure on the issue.

None of the developed countries have actually withheld foreign aid on the basis of lack of respect for gay Human Rights. The logic of tying foreign development aid in Africa is a rather complex one. Whilst on one hand it aims to promote and uphold the respect of these rights, it could deeply hurt the standards of living for the citizens of those countries (including the gay group) as important development projects risk stalling. Also, some regimes might prove notorious and refuse to reform laws on gay rights despite the foreign aid cuts, inadvertently causing much more harm than the intended good.  While tying  foreign aid to the respect of gay Human Rights might seem as an easy way of tackling the issue, the international community should explore other methods that will not harm development in Africa and those which will have a lasting impact on gay Human Rights in Africa.

The Arab League Abandons Syria

The heat engulfing Syria has eventually proved too much for the Arab league to withstand. The league yesterday,  announced it’s decision to suspend it’s monitoring mission in Syria. In a statement released by the Secretary General, the Arab League cites the deterioration of the situation in Syria and the continued use of violence as the reason behind the abrupt decision.

This comes as a relief to activists and Human Rights groups who have for a long time not only heavily criticised the Arab  League as a toothless dog, but also accused President Assad as using it to buy time to carry out more violence against Syrians in an effort to end the uprising against his rule. Violence in Syria continues to surge in many cities and it was especially noted that during the Arab League visits to Syria, the violence took place at an even larger scale.

Syria has expressed disappointment and remorse at the sudden decision but this does not come as a surprise at all. President Assad had been using the Arab League mission as a cover for violence in Syria. The presence of the Arab League deflected attention from the government sponsored attacks on its population towards the work that the League was carrying out. It’s important to consider the effect of the Arab League’s decision.  We have all been asking what fate has in store for Syria.  This question reverberates even more now as it seems that the people of Syria have been abandoned without notice by their very own people. Their case and fate will be resolved and decided upon by strangers; foreigners, at least for now.

The Arab League’s decision will most definitely  have an effect on how Syria’s ruling government will behave in the coming days.  Without the cover of the Arab League, all eyes will be on President Assad’s next move.There is now increased pressure on his government on how it will deal with the revolt. Will there be a reduction in violence? Will the strategy change to a more peaceful one? Or will the situation remain as it is?

Despite the mounting pressure, it is unlikely that we will witness a reduction in violence but what is likely to change is the strategy used to contain the situation. All eyes are now looking up to the international community as we await the decision on the resolution against Syria  from the United Nations Security Council next week. The situation unfortunately does look somewhat bleak for Syria in terms of an international intervention as hitherto, Russia and China are expected to veto the resolution. Russia this week, publicly announced that it would veto the resolution while China had previously vetoed a draft resolution against Syria late last year.

With Bated Breath As We Await The Verdict on Syrian Humanitarian Crisis

Finally, the call has been answered and the international community is listening very carefully and has taken some real interest in Syria’s humanitarian crisis. The United Nation Security Council (hereafter, UNSC),  is today in a closed door meeting mulling the very future of Syria. Truth is, we all anticipated this but no one was quite sure when the UNSC would act because as history shows, sometimes they are fast to act and other times they are slow. 
The questions on everyone’s mind are: What next for Syria? , For president Assad? Will Mr. Assad succumb to the international and internal pressure within Syria just like his counterparts in Tunisia and Egypt did? Or will he stick it out to the very end  until he has to be dragged from the throne? The answers to these questions will determine the future of Syria and inevitably transform Syria from what we know it today and what it was in the past. 

The step taken today by the UNSC is long overdue and far too many lives have been lost, in addition to valuable property. Nonetheless, the decision shows serious concern for the plight of Syrians and, I believe, the world looks forward to a workable solution to end the carnage in Syria. The Council will be discussing a resolution supporting the Arab League’s call for political reform which includes the stepping down of President Bashar al-Assad. The Council is not expected to vote until next week.

The decision will not be a simple one for UNSC to make as Russia has already publicly declared its stand on the matter: It will veto any resolution which blatantly calls for President Assad to step down. We are also likely to see the Chinese take the same stand as they also vetoed a previous draft  resolution on Syria last year. They have not, so far, done anything to suggest that this time round they will support a resolution against Syria. As a result, we might experience a delay in resolving the Syrian Crisis as the council members pull and tag with each other in order to create a compromise that will be acceptable for all. In which case, if the violence persists, we will turn our gaze towards NATO. This will be a real test for how far the case for Humanitarian Intervention changed. Will countries put aside their national interests and, for the sake of human rights, step in to stop the conflict? 

President Assad,  I would say, is not in the least about to back away from his throne. As long as Russia is solidly behind him, he has nothing whatsoever to fear. The UNSC will not touch him as long it does not agree on the future on Syria. President Assad will continue to reign terror on his own people as he wishes. NATO might not as easily intervene in Syria without the express authority of UNSC as it did in 1999 to end Kosovo’s ethnic cleansing. Quite frankly, the Euozone economic crisis has dealt a massive blow to the region and not many nations will have the appetite for an intervention. However, there is a chance that NATO just might intervene as a show of its might in spite of the hard economic times.

So yes, it is possible that President Assad will stick it out to the very end when he will have no choice other than to step down. What will take away his choices? Only time can tell for now 

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