Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Friday, March 2, 2012

Is Syria fated to be a second Bosnia?

f the guns have fallen silent in Homs, they have done so only in the sense described by the Roman historian Tacitus: “They created a wasteland and called it peace.” After a savage bombardment lasting more than three weeks, President Bashar al-Assad’s forces claimed to have subdued the city’s rebel-held areas yesterday. Their “victory” may prove illusory – experience suggests a futile sequence whereby the army moves on to suppress the next outbreak of unrest, while insurgents return behind its back.

The harsh reality is that Syria now risks an agonising descent into prolonged Bosnia-style blood-letting: an ethnic and religious civil war, in which each side’s allies (and co-religionists) channel arms and support to their proxies as the world wrings its hands on the sidelines. As during the turmoil in Yugoslavia, the world’s response is hampered by division and self-interest. And once again, beguiling but deeply flawed solutions are on offer: arm the rebels, say some, despite the fact that a European Union embargo bans any export of weapons to Syria and that the insurgents are an unknown quantity, with objectives and methods that we may profoundly oppose. Meanwhile, Russian and Chinese opposition has effectively ruled out a full-scale intervention to stop the slaughter. more