Diplomacy has not worked very well for Syria. So how about rethinking the whole diplomacy thing in Syria-Diplomats not talking so much but doing by being there, as human shields to protect many more Syrians! Yes, I’m being serious, kind-of.
More traditional diplomacy is not likely to work anytime soon, not at least until the tide of battle is decisively turned and most of the killing is done. Then a diplomat will come into the room and effectively legitimize what the reality on the field into a new “peace agreement.” That is kind-of the way it turned out in Bosnia.
Diplomacy did not work so well for Bosnia either. Without the effective defense of Bosnia & Herzegovina in the field and the sacrifices of its citizens and soldiers, diplomacy would have become a funeral service for the country. However, the presence of Blue-Helmets and particularly many NGO’s and media did serve to only marginally detract the killers – no one likes witnesses when committing war crimes and genocide.
Assad’s Regime will not allow free media nor NGO’s into Syria as it does not want witnesses. (Of course, it would help if most of the big powers on the UN Security Council were not so determined to keep the International Criminal Court out). I suspect that the Assad Regime does not mind starving out the opposition either. It is as or more effective than a paramilitary execution squad. Sending another mediator/arbitrator to Damascus only appears to serve Assad and his pals (Moscow, Beijing and Tehran) in order to rehabilitate him for another 40 years of dictatorship while providing cover for his effort to crush any opposition. The new rule should be that from now on the UN/Arab League Envoy will only meet with Assad in the middle of what ever poor Syrian neighborhood is getting trounced at the moment, Homs, Aleppo, Dar’a, Hama, Idlib or even one of the besieged suburbs of Damascus, but just not in Assad's office.
It was my opinion that when Kofi Annan was appointed the UN/Arab League Envoy that he should first and immediately travel to then besieged Homs. It would have sent a powerful statement that the Syrian citizens, more accurately their welfare, is his first priority. Instead of going to Assad in Damascus he should have demanded that Assad come to Homs, not after the rape of the city but while it is still going on. Read our Blog: “Kofi Annan to Homs-the New Srebrenica”. The countless meetings of mediators and diplomats with Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic only served to perpetuate the ethnic cleansing, legitimize their crimes as well as politics, a consequence still cramping the development of a new Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Would have thought that Kofi Annan would have recalled the lesson, but then we all tend to fall back on the same way of doing things.
The new UN/Arab League Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi (UN Photo Below) has the diplomatic credentials, but I do not think his traditional style of diplomacy will succeed here either. (I don’t think this almost 80 year old official would make a good human shield either.) Of course, to have this new style of “diplomacy as human shields” succeed it will require an army of diplomats in view of the broad swath of Syria that is under attack from its own Government. It would be also a more effective deterrent if some of the human shield diplomats are from Beijing, Moscow, Tehran and Washington. Too much to hope for? Well, it can only be better than what diplomacy has delivered for Syria, or more accurately its people, up to now.
Diplomats as human shields may not work – perhaps there would not be enough volunteers. However, it is time to think out of the diplomatic box, and foremost emphasize the objective of saving citizens and not the dividing up of political offices and power.
Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey - FOLLOW mo @MuhamedSacirbey
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