The ugliness of international politics

What has been widely feared is about the happen, it seems. President Assad’s troops, supported by the Russians, are winning the battle over Aleppo. That is not great from a lot of perspectives. To name just a few: first of all for the civilians, who are killed and bombed continuously. Secondly, the crushing of the rebel forces there means the further weakening of what are ‘natural’ allies of the West, as they are against Assad and against ISIS. Thirdly, this victory (if it all continues this way, of course) strengthens Assad’s position, making it even more unlikely that he will disappear from the scene anytime soon. The only good thing seems to be the further weakening of ISIS.

Like many others, I do not like this development at all. I think Assad is a ruthless murderer of his own people and should therefore be taken to justice, preferably in its most definitive form. I wish the Syrian people all the best and would like them to decide over their own fate in liberty. I also deeply hate ISIS and all that it stands for. And the interference of foreign powers (either Russian, Turkish, Iranian, Western) certainly does not do much good either, although I also think it has been inevitable. Public opinion, perceived and real interests, and the defence of allies all foster these kind of interventions. These are of course just a few of the important variables in an enormously complex war.

So what to do, or aim for, as Western countries? Obviously, most Syrians are better off in a stable situation without war, than with any currently viable alternative. This means that negotiations about cease fires should commence, or at least be fostered, which will then hopefully lead to a permanent settlement. I do not dare to predict how long it will take for this approach to be successful. Yet any alternative is worse. These negotiations, whenever feasible, should have all parties at the table, Assad included. No vetoes against him being part of future talks, as has previously been the case. The man will stay around for a while, and we better get used to the idea. This is surely deplorable, yet inevitable. The situation in Syria shows once again the ugliness of international politics, with very limited roles for international law and justice.

Let it be a lesson for those within the liberal tradition who still think differently.

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6 thoughts on “The ugliness of international politics

  1. Thanks Edwin.

    It’s not just Aleppo that’s scary. Apparently, Assad’s factions have attacked Turkish troops that are currently occupying parts of Syria along the border.

    This attack comes after Erdogan told the Turkish press (or what’s left of it, anyway) that the Turkish military is “there to bring justice.” Ankara is in Syria “to end the rule of the cruel Assad, who has been spreading state terror,”

    The Russians, who have, as you note, been supporting the Assad regime, are now openly asking Ankara to comment on this statement. This can be considered much worse than the slaughter in Aleppo, depending on how you look at it. Sure, hundreds of thousands of people aren’t getting slaughtered, but the potential for a fight between Russia and Turkey – a NATO member (and a fickle one at that) – would rank rank higher on the disaster scale than a civil war in Syria.

  2. Yes I agree, as I wrote, there is far more happening than I listed in my post. Unpredictableand dangerous for sure..

    • Do you think could have been avoided if the US had not intervened?

      It seems to me that if the US had stayed out, the Russians would have never gotten involved and, as a result, Turkey would have been much cooler about the people streaming across its border…

  3. No, there was enough opportunity for Russia to intervene anyhow, also to show its power after the crisis over the Crimea and the war in Eastern Ukraine. The same applies to Turkey. They were actually rather good about the refugees and i think they still have millions of them within their borders (as they agreed not to send them through to Western Europe anymore).

Please keep it civil (unless it relates to Jacques)

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