Syria's "Initial Declaration" is Too Little, Too Late
The U.S.-Russia diplomatic bargain to persuade Syrian President Bashar al Assad to eliminate his chemical weapons stockpile may just be working. Within days of receiving an ultimatum, Assad submitted an initial disclosure of his chemical weapons program. This might be the first step in the long process of ridding Syria of chemical weaponry, while holding off direct military intervention from the U.S.
But how, you may ask, do these development help an average Syrian fighting to survive in a country falling apart at the seams? They do not. Syrian citizens are more helpless than ever despite these diplomatic exchanges.
Of course, Obama may claim America cannot turn a blind eye towards the atrocious images coming out of Syria. And yes, Putin may swear Russia advocates only peaceful dialogue towards Syrian self-determination. But after 31 months of bombs and bullets raining over Syrian homes, it is painfully obvious that international superpowers have failed miserably.
An accurate example of futile diplomacy came when the Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi told the Syrian cabinet about "brilliant victories of the Syrian diplomacy realized ... in terms of preventing the U.S. from launching military aggression against Syria." Within hours of Halqi's boast, regime forces killed 24 people in the Idlib province.
With over a 100,000 dead, more than 4 million internally displaced and 2 million having fled the country, Syria will forever be etched into history as a crippling defeat for global peacekeeping efforts.
In case you were wondering what finally brought the big players to the bargaining table this past month, it was not overwhelming concern for the fate of innocent Syrians. The U.S. is looking to secure the Chemical Weapons Convention and retain a shred of dignity for President Obama who emphatically declared he would step up and put an end to Syrian despair the day chemical weapons came into the picture. Russia is worried about losing its key naval facility at the Syrian port of Tartus, not to mention its one Middle Eastern ally, Assad.
Even with the two pioneer efforts to remove chemical weapons from Syria's reach, there are no plans to stop the import of Russian arms sales to Syria, a trade that has yielded over $4 billion for the Russian economy. President Obama is not far behind, having pledged $250 million to support factions of the Syrian opposition.
So as weapons flow into the country, for all we know, this war may continue far into the future, even without chemical weapons fueling any violence.
At this point, it is not a question of how the global community can stop the Syrian crisis from worsening, but rather if it even wants to do anything of the sort. For well over two years we have been content to watch from a distance as women and children, old people and young perish in a conflict fought with foreign weapons.
Does it matter to the 270,000 refugee children from Syria whether the violence that drove them out of their homes stemmed from chemical weapons or not? Do mourning families in Syria care whether the bullet that took their loved ones' lives came from rebel camps or the government's cronies?
As a Syrian counterpart so aptly explained, all that Syrian citizens want is for the fighting to stop. They want to go to school. They want to be able to walk on the street. They want to go to bed without hearing bombs in their sleep. Yet, they live in fear, knowing that they may die without seeing any of these simple dreams fulfilled.
As global superpowers struggle to sustain negotiations with Assad, they have done nothing but define the Syrian war in terms of their own self-interest at the expense of millions of innocent people.