After an estimated 500 to 1,300 people died in gas attacks in Syria on Wednesday, the UN Security Council called an emergency meeting in New York, that called for a detailed investigation by the U.N. inspection team led by Ake Sellstrom. Despite allegations by opposition forces within the country, Syrian Information Minister Omran Zoabi claimed that all accusations of chemical warfare by Assad’s regime were “illogical and fabricated”. Activists reported that shells and rockets fell upon civilian residences in rebel-held Damascus at 3AM while most of the casualties were women and children.
There is indeed a method to this madness, and much of the chaos in Syria is perpetuated by a deep misunderstanding of its politics and history. The opposition forces claim that the alleged use of chemical warfare by Assad against civilians in the rebelling majority cities is only to crush resistance against the regime. This, they claim, should prove to those sitting on the fence that neutrality in Syria’s case results in more bloodshed.
However, Assad’s supporters counter-argue that any kind of chemical warfare on civilians would contradict the actual progress made between the civilians and the regime on political grounds, not through brute military force. In fact, Assad’s staunch supporter, Russia, backed the government by viewing the situation as “rebel provocation”.
Regardless of the botched narrative on Syria, one must think of the average Syrian civilian entangled in the gruesomely debilitating conflict. With more than 70,000 killed and at least 1,000,000 external refugees in surrounding countries and a population consisting of Arabs, Kurds and Armenians of Sunni, Alawite and Druze religious backgrounds, Syria’s conflict is complicated by religious and sectarian rifts.
The United Nations and Obama’s collectively ambiguous silence only worsens the situation after initially arming the rebel forces on ground. According to latest figures from human rights groups and the United Nation, an average of 166 Syrians are killed every day. Neutrality and passivity are not acceptable options.
There are too many interveners and too many strategic interests at stake in Syria which inherently renders the on-ground process of empowerment impossible and violently attacked. There is an immediate need for honest support from those who genuinely wish to empower the people of the country. If the international community is sincerely supportive of a peaceful Syria, the demands from the people are clear and so are benefits of a negotiated transition. Only an indigenous movement, without foreign interests, can alleviate Syria’s terrible war.