The Syria Conundrum

First published 14th June 2013
News coming in overnight is that the American administration now confirms, what we have had circumstantial evidence of for a while, that the Syrian Government has used chemical weapons on its own people. This is a truly shocking way for any Government to behave and is totally inexcusable. However, the discovery of this by the USA raises the spectre of what they will do.

Newsrooms around the world were clear that this would mean greater involvement by the USA in the Syrian conflict. Minimally, this would mean arming the opposition to the Government in Syria. Possibly it may involve a more dramatic intervention. All this is very worrying. What is more shocking is the death of some 90,000 people, including many women, children and non-combatants.

When I heard that our Government had been complicit in lifting the ban on sending arms to the 'rebels' in Syria, I was worried. Surely such a move brings with it some unmanageable risks. Will sending more lethal weapons in to Syria mean more deaths not less? What kind of Trojan Horse is the rebel movement? What different interests lurk within their ranks?

There is plenty of evidence that both sides of this conflict have been involved in atrocities. How do we guarantee that these arms will only fall into the hands of 'moderates'? What will happen to all these weapons when, please God, the fighting comes to an end? These are questions that need to be answered.

The history of the Middle East seems to be that today's allies are tomorrow's enemies. Remember Iraq?

Surely the only way forward is to work with Syria's allies to bring about a ceasefire. Of course this has been tried and has failed, but I would rather we kept trying this course of action rather than send more weapons to a bewilderingly complex situation.

I have seen first hand the disorder that follows civil war. Even when conflict ends, people retain their weapons, 'just in case...' The result is a violent and potentially ungovernable society. Syria already has this and it's time for the international community to bring this bloodshed to an end, not add to it or sow the seeds for future instability.

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