International

Time for a decisive international intervention in Syria

Eighty persons killed in the chemical attack by Bashar Al-Assad army at Khan Sheikhun in northwestern Syria on 4 April, including 30 children and 20 women. So far the Assad regime has resorted to 175 chemical attacks according to the World Health Organisation and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. One of the famous such incidents was the chemical attack on Ghouta, a Damascus suburb, on 21 August 2013, killing over a thousand people.

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Syria suffers under one of the most brutal regimes in the world with a long history of serious human rights violations. Up to 13,000 political prisoners were secretly hanged in the Syrian jail at Saydnaya, according to Amnesty International, during the first five years of the current civil war raging in the country since early 2011. Thousands more died in the same prison due to starvation and torture during the same period.

Earlier crimes of the Syrian regime include Tadmur (Palmyra) Jail massacre on 27 June, 1980 when around 1000 political prisoners were killed by the regime’s executioners (then headed by the current ruler’s father, Hafez Al-Assad). In the Hamah massacre of 22 February 1982, the rebel city was strafed by air force jets killing around 30,000 civilians in one night.

During the current civil war, 400,000 people have been killed and nearly half of the country’s 23 million population has been displaced, many forced to flee outside the country. There are large Syrian refugee populations in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and various European countries.

Assad family has been ruling over Syria since 1971 under the guise of Baath Party using emergency first declared in 1963. It is a single-party political dictatorship. Civil war started in February 2011 as part of the Arab Spring which started in the region in late 2010. Assad regime is now controlling only 30 percent of the territory while ISIS controls about 40 percent and the rest is controlled by some 45 militant groups supported by various foreign powers.

A peace conference was held at Geneva under the aegis of the UN in February 2014 where the Assad regime agreed to a multi-party system and free and fair elections. But it failed to honour its commitments and when the second Geneva conference was held in Feb.-March 2016, the regime reneged on its previous commitments because its position in the meantime had improved on the ground as a result of the Russian intervention on its side since early 2016.

An international initiative is required to end the ongoing stupid and senseless civil war prolonged by a regime which wants to stay in power by any means. The Assad regime is incapable of unlearning its brutal habits while opposition is too fragmented and the danger of ISIS terrorist state looms large. Therefore, an international military intervention is necessary to form an interim civil government which will conduct free and fair elections and transfer power to an elected government representing the Syrian people.

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