Syrian conflict-way forward

31 Aug

By Wanjala Wafula


Greetings from the luxuriant Savannah next to the Maasai Mara here in Kenya hoping you are all well and safe. We watched in uttermost horror when evidence emerged of the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war, with hundreds of people exterminated and thousands impaired. It was a scene to abhor and no one should be allowed to practice this sadism at this time. Any assault on civilians is a misdemeanor, and I plainly denounce the use of chemical weaponry by any government or armed group.

I stand corrected, but I have also seen pictures of abandoned US made chemical weaponry from rebel strongholds, thus begging the question as to which side of the conflict is telling the truth. I know my detractors will say that I have enough problems in my region and that a conflict in Syria should concern me the least. Alas, we now exist in a much interconnected world where a situation on one side of the globe affects us all, albeit varyingly.  

Unfortunately, the Obama Administration’s reaction to this sadism is more brutality. The United States and France are planning air strikes against targets they determine as associated to the Assad regime’s military competence. This is a call the world has heard to many times in the recent past and the experts think it’s time we stood up to be counted as citizens of the universe. Bombing Syrian government facilities will only intensify the conflict and deteriorate the suffering of the people of Syria. US air strikes will not lessen the probability of chemical weapons being deployed again. That is if only we could be objectively told who deployed them in the first place. I submit here without fear of contradiction that a US/NATO invasion could well trigger a massive escalation of the war as it has happened in too many places that I restrain myself from mentioning. Instead, the US and France on one side as well as Russia and governments in the region must stop sending weapons into Syria.

I propose that the best response to the disgust of chemical weapons is to bolster a push for the Geneva II peace talks. The US should engage with Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia, key allies of the regime and the rebels, respectively, to put pressure on armed actors to implement a ceasefire and to participate in talks. Engagement with Russia requires US assurances that the US does not seek unilateral regime change in Syria but is prepared to support talks with the Syrian government aimed at a negotiated transition. I have started to believe that many Americans think that wars are just a reality show and entertainment. Why is it that the Democrats who opposed Bush/Cheney wars are suddenly quiet when Obama is doing the killing and escalating the wars around the world? WHY!

I am only a third rate columnist but a friend of mine from the US affirmed to me that Americans and taxable entities are currently paying about $2.2 trillion a year in federal taxes. It’s been recently reported that 56 cents out of every tax dollar collected goes to the military and the wars. Recently, CNN recently reported that the cost to maintain one US soldier is between $850,000 and $1,400,000 a year (and rising). I fear to say this, but the numerous US led wars continue to hungrily consume their prosperity. Social commentator Ron Paul said “We’re in 130 countries. We have 900 bases around the world. We’re going broke.”. Please tell me if its true that Obama is still a liberal Democrat who was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize?

The US must also cease from efforts to prohibit Iran from the negotiations. All militaristic parties and their backers are needed in diplomatic efforts to agree an end to the civil war. For any peace talks to yield genuine outcomes, women, youth and the elderly must be included at the table. Women and children make up the majority of refugees spilling over borders into neighboring countries and this must stop! Mr. Obama is attempting to make the moral case for the anticipated invasion of Syria by invoking the intellectually fashionable but legally dubious rationale of the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) Syrian civilians. Which civilians have been protected by the US invasions anywhere in the world?

The number of refugee children has hit a disastrous milestone: one million children. The scale of this crisis demands an urgent increase in funding for relief, not more military spending and more death. Anthony Walton once said “America’s greatest strength, and its greatest weakness, is our belief in second chances, our belief that we can always start over, that things can be made better”. I really hope so!


The writer is a Founder and CEO of The Coexist Initiative, a not for profit synergy of men and boys organizations committed to eliminating all forms of sexual/gender based violence and enhancing HIV prevention in Kenya. Visit:  Facebook: wanjala Wafula Skype: coexistinitiative: Tel: +254-712653322



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