Syria: the self-interested meddling of foreign states has created a generation-long war


11 November 2016

As we have watched the terrible bombing of Aleppo in recent weeks it has become clear that international rules, designed to limit suffering during conflict, have been blatantly and consistently violated. The longer this terrible conflict continues, the more likely it is that those rules will be discarded forever.

We condemn in the strongest terms the role of the Syrian government in targeting civilians, including the most vulnerable, in order to maintain a grip on power which has enriched President Assad’s family while impoverishing Syria’s people. Unfortunately the recent brutal attack on Aleppo is only the latest in a long line of gross human rights violations perpetrated in this conflict, which has fuelled immense levels of poverty. We also condemn those governments, most notably Russia, which have committed serious human rights violations in Syria.

The Syrian conflict did not drop from a clear sky, however. For decades, Western countries have interfered in the politics of the ‘middle east’, driven primarily by a desire to control energy resources. Today, the war in Syria is part of a wider middle east conflict, triggered by governments like the US and UK intervening directly in Afghanistan, Iraq and later Libya, and their tireless work to undermine the authority of the United Nations. These governments cannot claim any moral legitimacy in the region, most especially as they continue to support and arm Saudi Arabia, which is committing the most heinous war crimes in Yemen.

The growth of the barbaric Islamic State (IS) represents a threat to peace worldwide but it is this external interference, by the US, Russia, Europe and others, which is at the root of this growth. The growth of IS, therefore, can only be dealt with by dealing with this underlying problem: the consistent meddling by powerful states to control the world’s energy resources. If we don’t rethink our policies towards the middle east, and towards our energy needs, we will face a war without end. The situation is urgent.

  • We call on the UN to work towards an urgent political solution to the conflict. We call on international governments to end their bloody and self-interested interventions and engage fully through the UN to work towards a political solution and to take steps to immediately end the suffering.  
  • We call on international governments to immediately stop arming and militarily supporting the Syrian government, and tighten sanctions on this regime. Those governments and corporations who continue to sell arms to the Syrian government must themselves face sanctions.
  • We call on the British government to stop arming Saudi Arabia.
  • We call on Western governments, most especially the European Union, to open their borders to refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict immediately. The deal the EU came to with Turkey violates our international responsibilities, and must be rescinded and replaced with a system of meeting the needs of refugees within the EU. When Syria’s neighbours have taken in millions of refugees, the EU’s paltry response should shame the richest societies on earth.  

 

Image: A young girl in Menbej, Aleppo Governorate, on 1th January. Credit: Basma/Flickr

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