The "cruelty and carnage" in Syria, is how the situation in that country has been described in a rare joint statement by the chiefs of five UN organizations. The statement came accompanied by a plea to the international community to take concrete action and stop the bloodshed.
“Enough!” It cried out as fierce fighting continues to claim lives.
The chiefs of the WHO, UNICEF, OCHA, WFP and the UNHCR urged political leaders to do “something more than funds” to help end the crisis in Syria. The United Nations reports that to date no less than 70,000 people have lost their lives and more than 1.2 million have been rendered homeless in the two years of civil war.
Those are staggering numbers by any standard, but for a country of some 22 million people, those numbers are even more alarming.
The five UN bodies said that actions undertaken so far by other governments and parties were “insufficient” and that there was an overall lack of urgency to bring about a stop to the carnage.
Indeed, one may ask that question why this lethargic effort to put a stop to the killing and the inevitable dismemberment of the state of Syria, if things continue to progress in the direction they have been going in recent months.
A simple answer may be that there are really no obvious “good guys” in the Syrian conflict to back in this mad race towards self-destruction, carnage and orgy of horrors that has gripped Syria.
Unlike previous uprisings in the Middle East or other parts of the world the democratic opposition forces in Syria are weak and terribly disorganized and divided. This gives the Islamist opposition the upper hand where groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra, closely connected to al-Qaeda, are making great headway. And this obviously frightens the West who so far have been supportive of the anti-Assad opposition.
Indeed, many find that there is no favorite horse to bet on in the Syrian race. The current regime of Bashar Assad is already too tainted by its gross abuse of human rights, summary executions and wide use of torture. The Assad regime has remained unresponsive to international pressures to introduce reforms. Unfortunately, many opposition groups have been found to be equally brutal and hold equal disregard for human rights.
Additionally, as the conflict in Syria is beginning to take on a very different face than when it first started, Western officials are starting to seriously consider the likelihood of an Islamist victory in Syria and the consequences it would have on the rest of the region.
The Islamist view of geopolitics is that they do not believe in national borders or nationality, claiming that the “umma” or Muslim nation should extend to all lands under the caliphate. Already there have been reports of Jabhat al-Nusra declaring Syria an Islamic state. Syria’s Jabhat al-Nusra is closely associated with al-Qaeda in Iraq. A concrete Islamist victory in Syria and their successful takeover of Iraq would create alarming implications with potentially catastrophic outcomes for pro-democracy movements in the region and beyond. What is starting to emerge here is a continuation of the original bin Laden vision of recreating the caliphate. Only instead of centering the base in Afghanistan as was initially planned, this time under the guidance of Ayman al Zawahiri they are aiming for Syria.
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Remember the initial strategy and vision that bin Laden had was to expand from Afghanistan and Pakistan into other countries, including Iran, Iraq, the oil-rich sheikhdoms of the Gulf and of course, Saudi Arabia.
Once in control of the vast oil reserves al-Qaeda would find itself in an unprecedented position of power. Having lost their point of departure in Afghanistan, they are now vying to establish a firm foothold in Syria and Iraq. From Syria they are also making inroads into Lebanon. The next logical step for them would be focus on Jordan and then begin gnawing away on Israel.
With militant Islamist on their doorsteps Jordan and Israel are starting to take matters very seriously. Jordan opened up its territory to military raining, some even being carried out by US forces.
By. Claude Salhani
Claude Salhani, a specialist in conflict resolution, is an independent journalist, political analyst and author of several books on the region. His latest book, 'Islam Without a Veil,' is published by Potomac Books. He tweets @claudesalhani.