In the immediate aftermath of the vicious and brutal chemical attack carried out by the Assad Regime on 21st August 2013 resulting in over 1,400 civilian deaths, there has been a chorus of calls to punish the Assad Regime for that heinous act. It was felt that something, including the possibility of military strikes, should be done to achieve certain specific objectives, such as removing the Regime’s ability to use banned chemical weapons in the future. Some countries have even called for bringing the people responsible for the chemical attacks to international justice. However, all such calls were thwarted and almost forgotten since the launch of the Russian initiative to disarm the Assad Regime of its chemical arsenal.
For the past two-and-a-half years, the Assad Regime has been using conventional and non-conventional weapons, including Scud missiles, against its own People, killing over 150,000 people.
The Syrian uprising started as a peaceful popular movement against oppression, corruption and lack of liberties. It remained peaceful for a whole year, despite the disproportionately violent response from the Regime, which was extremely brutal from the outset, and got increasingly so as its efforts to suppress the uprising were continually frustrated by the bravery and determination of the unarmed Syrian people. It is that brutal and disproportionate response that led to the rise of the armed rebels, and pushed the uprising towards militarization.
Syria, with the diverse and varied ethnicities of its People, can only continue as a civil and secular state, ruled by principles of equality and co-habitation of all ethnic, religious and racial groups that make up the Syrian society. Sadly, it was the brutality of the Assad Regime, and the indifference of the International Community towards that brutality, that led to the emergence of extremist currents, which found in the frustration and desperation of the population in certain areas a fertile ground for it to set roots and flourish.
The Syrian Expatriate Community in the UK fully recognises that the British Government is deeply concerned about the apparent rise of the “Islamist” extremist currents in Syria. However, it must be acknowledged that it is the inaction on the part of the International Community, and the delay in any meaningful intervention from the West to help the Syrian People, along with the brutality and sheer arrogance of the Assad Regime, are the real reasons that have led some elements of the Syrian People to be prepared seek alliance with the Devil itself, in return for help to remove this brutal, tyrannical and murderous Regime.
All parties involved on the Syrian arena have been clamouring to express their incensement at the sight of children being brutally killed by chemical weapons, and all their efforts focused on stopping the Assad Regime from using chemical weapons again. These efforts have, however, cynically ignored the fact that the Assad Regime has already killed in excess of 150,000 of its people, and destroyed 70% of the Country and its infrastructure using “conventional” methods, such as air bombardment and missile strikes. The question that is posed by the Syrian People is how is killing 1,400 innocent civilians with chemical weapons can be more repulsive than killing 150,000 using “conventional” weapons?
Those following the Syrian scene will have noted that efforts seem to focus currently on getting rid of the stockpile of chemical weapons, giving little regards to the fact that this will not provide a solution to the crisis Syria. The political solution can only become an option if the military solution is running in parallel, thus maintaining the pressure on the Assad Regime to accept a political option to end to the crisis.
It is difficult to understand how it can be possible to enter into negotiations with a Regime that has amongst its ranks individuals who are wanted by international courts.
The most important concept to appreciate is that a swift end to the crisis will provide the surest way to turn back the spread of extremism, in a country that can only survive under a formula that guarantees freedom and equality to all shades of its diverse population.
On behalf of the Syrian Expatriate Community in the UK, we urge Her Majesty’s Government to provide the necessary support for the Syrian People in its strife to build a free, democratic, civilised Syria, that is free from oppression and extremism. We also urge the UK government to help bringing those criminals who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity to face justice.
We urge you to exert all possible pressure on the Assad Regime to stop the ongoing slaughter of innocent civilians, whether by conventional weapons, or by any other means.