The people of Syria, who lost neighbors and loved ones to chemical weapons, and who continue to die as Bashar al-Assad clings to power, do not benefit from this compromise in any way. It does not change their lives at all, except to make it clear, in case they maintained any hope or doubts, that help from the international community is not on the way.
The UN resolution, agreed to by the five permanent members of the Security Council, who began discussing it with all 15 members Thursday night, promises no specific consequences should Assad fail to comply. It just says if his government does comply, the Security Council will meet again. And negotiate another resolution. Maybe.
This deal is a defeat for US diplomacy, and a triumph for the Russian government.
The resolution does not admit Syria was wrong to use chemical weapons. Russia insisted on that. It does not even state that the Syrian government actually used chemical weapons at all—Russia insisted on that too. It gives Syria a year to produce their chemical weapons, but does not force them to remove those weapons from the country. The chemicals would be destroyed within Syria’s borders, another stipulation demanded by Russia. And guess who has volunteered to secure the proceedings and “ensure” that the weapons are destroyed? That’s right: once again, it’s Russia.
As Syria’s closest ally outside of the Middle East, Russia has used its influence on the UN Security Council to run the conversation time and time again. As far as the Putin regime is concerned, al-Assad is not going anywhere. The will of the Syrian people is irrelevant to what the Russian leader sees as his country’s national interest. For the moment, that perceived interest includes not only keeping a dictator in power, but also anything that weakens America on the world stage. This UN resolution accomplishes both.
No one rational, in the US, Russia, or anywhere else, can believe this deal helps move the crisis in Syria any closer to an end. Russia’s parroted story from Assad, that it was the insurgents who gassed their own people as a ruse, would be laughable if the truth weren’t so horrifying. The video footage of children dying from poison gas was the smoking gun, proof of a war crime the civilized world has sworn not to tolerate, but Assad faces no consequences. Protected by Vladimir Putin and the Russian delegation to the UN, Syria’s dictator is free to suppress the popular revolution in his country as brutally as he wishes, for as long as he can.
In fact, the complete destruction of the Syrian democracy movement is the only resolution Russia will permit. The US is motivated to support the end of the Assad regime because of a commitment to human rights, but Russia’s leaders share no such values. Why would they? They themselves repress dissent, imprison protestors, conduct covert assassinations abroad, and treat homosexuals as second-class citizens. In Assad, Putin and his ilk have an ally in the Middle East, whose immoral actions pose no problem for them, and they won’t let him go away. The will of the Syrian people is irrelevant.
There will be those who celebrate the fact that the Security Council reached a deal on Syria. However, no one who values the welfare of that country’s people can consider this deal as anything but a failure. For US citizens, the disgust should be even worse, because our government knew better and went along with it anyway. Previously, a defiant President Obama proposed military action. But he found that the American people were too weary from two lengthy conflicts, and too wary of being deceived as they were about Iraq, to support another war in the Middle East. Even though Iraq was a war based on lies, while the proposed limited attack on Syria was a response to established truth, they balked.
Failing to obtain the consent of his people, the U.S. President started looking for a way out, and then Russia offered one. Instead of punishing al-Assad for his war crimes, the world would just take away one of his tools for committing them—eventually, possibly, in a process controlled by the criminal and his friends.
All the participants bear the blame for this toothless and irrelevant resolution. Whatever further horrors await in the next year or so of the Syrian conflict, they will all testify to the shame of the world community for failing to act.
In light of all this, it is perhaps inaccurate to say that the resolution is not good for anyone. While it hurts the US, in terms of power and credibility on the world stage, no one can deny that this deal helps Russia. And unfortunately, while it does nothing to help those whose neighbors and love ones were victims of poison gas, it does everything to help the dictator who gassed them.
Written By: Jeremy Forbing