For a long time, I thought commentary about the international community’s “inaction” and “impotence” and the rest of it had become clicheěs when it comes to the Syrian crisis. Yet, the American-Russian Framework for the Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons breaks new ground in exposing the shamelessness of the current world order for whose inadequacy Syrians are paying the ultimate price.
Even after two years and a half of unfathomable brutalities, the morning of August 21 was like no other in Syria thus far. No matter how much trauma you have learned to handle and no matter how much you think you can “cope”, nothing prepares you for this: rockets loaded with Sarin gas fired on civilian areas in eastern and western Ghouta overnight harvesting, in a span of a few hours, the lives of more than 1,400 civilians, including hundreds of children who never woke up from their deep, deep sleep.
Numbed by the magnitude of the catastrophe, struggling for tears or words let alone dealing with the unfolding aftermath of the disaster, Syrians were treated to the world’s yet most absurd shows. International outrage rippled across the globe, and world leaders evoked the long-forgotten rhetoric of “never again”.
Mr. Obama could not stand the idea of raising his children in a world that does nothing about this. Mr. Cameron’s passionate speech to the House of Commons cited use of chemical weapons more than 14 times so far by the Assad regime, which he found intolerable, as though such reports were proven overnight.
The U.N. secretary-general was “shocked” by the chemical massacre. As the long lines of dead Syrians were wrapped in their shrouds and bid farewell, the world seemed to be finally moving quite hectically. A red line that has long been drawn and redrawn has obviously been crossed; or should I say, the world has suddenly decided to recognize that it has been crossed only then.
The U.S. will strike! A day or two, Syrians are told, and the Syrian regime shall learn that its actions will not go unpunished. No, wait, they will linger a bit more because being a democracy comes with voting rituals. But maybe they won’t have to bother at all, they can strike a deal instead! A deal? With whom exactly? Right, with the devil himself!
For two years and a half, Syrians have been slaughtered and maimed by all means possible. They have learned to “sell” their tragedies to the international community in hope someone out there extends a hand. Yet Syrians were crushed under the full of weight of the international community’s inadequacy and, they are often told, the sediments of the Cold War. Suddenly, the “good guys” and the “bad guys” meet, agree, strike a deal that they call the Framework for the Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons, and Assad, the “naughty boy,” complies.
Suddenly, the world wears a new face. The United States, the Russian Federation and the Syrian Arab Republic finally find harmony in one “monitoring and destruction mission”. Russia and the U.S., the two poles of the Cold War for which the Syrian people are still paying dearly, were now determined to eliminate and destroy the naughty boy’s chemicals. There was a clear timetable and “stringent verification”. Everything was set, sharp and nonnegotiable. Noncompliance will have consequences.
The document interestingly mentions the two superpowers versus the “Syrians”, who must consider the former’s wishes to be their command. By way of compliment, it is mentioned in passing that the purpose was “reducing the threat posed to the people of Syria”. Also, the “primary responsibility of the Syrian government” is noted a few times.
Long refusing to acknowledge possession of chemical weapons at all, the Syrian regime was now willing to open up to inspectors, give up its chemical program and accede to the chemical weapons convention. No mention or questioning of Israel, allegedly the regime’s primary enemy, being one of [two] countries who have signed but not ratified the [Chemical Weapons Convention]. And that’s not all. It will comply before the convention goes into force as a token of … well, a token of gratitude, but for what? What does the Assad regime get in exchange?
The document does not mention that, as a reward for its obedience, the Assad regime can continue to thrive on Syrian blood, only no chemicals this time.
In the eyes of the world, the Syrian crisis has been addressed duly. Syrians have to be grateful for their extended tragedy being reduced to use of weapons of mass destruction. Death by all other means, denial of their rights, destruction of their country were all lesser matters with which they somehow must have adapted by now.