The world watched in horror as the body of a drowned, 3 year old Alan Kurdi was washed ashore the Mediterranean Sea beach on 2nd September 2016.
At 5 years old, Omran Daqneesh was as old as the conflict in his country, when the images of him sitting dazed and confused in an ambulance after being pulled from a heap of rubble after an airstrike had decimated his neighbourhood, went viral on the internet.
On May 25 2011, Hamza Ali Al-Khateeb’s corpse was delivered to his parents with 3 gunshot wounds, burn marks and severed genitals. He was detained during a protest. He was 13 at the time. Thousands of people came out register their dissent for Hamza online and through street protests.
Public memory is short, and within a few days of the event, the world turned its back to Syria and went on with their lives. In September 2016, a 31 truck convoy carrying supplies for refugees was hit by an airstrike and destroyed. The bombing also killed 20 civilians.
This act prompted the UN to entirely cease all aid to Syria. Despite making this drastic policy decision, the UN was still unable to pinpoint the perpetrators, going so far as to say that “We are not in a position to determine whether these were in fact airstrikes. We are in a position to say that the convoy was attacked.”
Discussions in the UN Security Council have also failed on multiple occasions to prove fruitful in any manner. But ‘discussion’ is a rather contentious term in itself, because the representatives of the US, Britain and France leave the hall when the Syrian representative is putting forth his points.
Influential countries have merely fulfilled a lip service by expressing their concern towards the devastating effects of war on Syria. However, an end to the conflict seems a distant dream as the big players come to the table with their own agendas in mind.
As far as Assad’s regime is concerned, with the US rooting for his removal and Russia backing him, any ceasefire would have been a mere Band-Aid on a bullet wound of political and ideological differences. This was further cemented by the death of a 135 people, in areas covered by the cessation of hostilities agreement, in the first week of the ceasefire itself.
International political failure at a scale as massive as this leads one to wonder how there can be a unity of purpose amongst the member of the Security Council, when there is no unity of ideology to set the foundation upon. The permanent members of the Security Council have also invited much criticism from the international community for using their veto powers to fulfill their own, parochial demands.
In a situation as grave as this, the onus of conflict resolution and negotiations fall on the questionable shoulders of Staffan de Mistura, often called the man with the hardest job in the world serving as the UN’s special envoy for Syria. It could then be extrapolated that the hardest job in the world would be given to the most capable man available, a decision which seems open to question, given much of his modus operandi.
Last March, de Mistura dispatched an inadequate team to Turkey to meet with the opposition in Syria. Most of the Syrians refused to grace the occasion, and the few who did were left unimpressed and insulted at the inexperience of the visiting team evident in the ambiguous reports and leaked memos . He has also been accused of cronyism, to which he has defended himself by saying that he had initially thought it best to hire staff who had served him with loyalty and efficiency in his past endeavors.
As of this Thursday, 6th of April 2017, the Trump card of the western nations ordered a military strike on a Syrian airbase as a response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians earlier last week. 59 Tomahawk missiles were launched at the airbase that held the weapons behind the recent chemical attack in Syria, allegedly by the Assad regime. This is viewed by the international community as a strategic maneuver by the US to display the full extent of their military influence in the area.