Syrian Crisis Reaching Genocidal Levels As Refugee Crisis Destabilizes Region
Almost two years ago, President Barack Obama drew a red line and cautioned Syrian President Bashir al-Assad not to cross it. Today, there is no red line drawn on the ground but there is a red tint to the land in Syria colored by the blood of civilians who have been brutalized and killed. If the United States does not stand up to defend the Syrian people, some analysts contend the crisis will spread and the consequences will be dire.
Frederic C. Hof of the Atlantic Council the situation demands a change in course if the U.S. has any desire to create a crisis even worse in the near future.
“Failure to protect civilians—failure even to try—has fueled a fire that has consumed Syria and burned all of its neighbors. It has perhaps set the stage for new horrors yet to come,” he contends. “Giving the protection of Syrian civilians operational priority as opposed to lip service can save lives, build a foundation for political conflict resolution, and prevent ongoing mass homicide from assuming the additional dimension of genocide. Yet it will take more than words. It will take this President changing course. For as bad as Syria and its neighborhood are today, they can be immeasurably worse twenty months from now.”
The administration’s inaction and failure to address the hundreds of thousands of refugees flowing into Lebanon and Jordan is worsening, even as the Assad regime is teetering on the edge.
The fear of who could come after Assad has actually hardened Obama’s refusal to take action, asserts Hof.
“To put the matter succinctly, the willingness of the Obama administration to make do with moralistic rhetoric about Assad regime war crimes and crimes against humanity has led it to an astounding analytical conclusion: he who has authorized acts of mass homicide on a daily basis — Bashar al-Assad — ought not be removed from power too quickly lest Islamist rebels take Damascus and conduct massacres in communities involuntarily implicated by regime criminality,” he writes.
While there may be legitimate fears that a successor to Assad could be worse, the current situation poses a grave risk to not only Syrians but to the region as a whole.
The international community should prepare for the worst if the refugee crisis, which is placing intense pressure on the economies of Syria’s neighbors, says Bob Bowker in The National Interest.
“If the Syrian regime is seen to be collapsing, attempts by the Alawites to flee will be all but unstoppable. And for the vast majority of the refugees, particularly the Alawites and other minorities, there will be little prospect of returning to Syria. The consequences are grave. Should there be such an outflow, its legacy will reverberate around the region for decades at humanitarian, political and strategic levels,” he cautions.
Any response should not be led by the U.S., but by the international community and the United Nations.
“Because it is clearly a scenario posing a threat to international peace and security, and would be seen as such by the permanent members of the UN Security Council, planning for an international response should be led by the UN. It would need to draw upon the experience and skills of UN agencies, supported by international and national non-government organizations with specialist capabilities in such areas as child protection,” suggests Bowker.