24/06/2011

A complex crisis

The increasing tension at the Turkish-Syrian border let us remember the potential danger of the current situation in Syria for the region. Compared to all previous revolutions, the uprising of the Syrian people is clearly the one with the highest risk of regional spread. This risk was clearly established by the U.S. Secretary of State, in her address to the press yesterday.

Showed in a video on the Guardian website, Hilary Clinton has expressed concern about « an escalation of conflicts in the region »  if the Syrian regime continued its policy of repression of the democratic aspirations of its people. Such a declaration made by the U.S. Secretary of State, based on observations made by the U.S. services in the region, is likely to worry us.

Syria is indeed unique because it is not a docile state in the Western perspective of the term, and also because it exercises an influence on its neighborhood. So far, however, the U.S. and the EU seemed satisfied with a Bashar al-Assad showing from time to time signs of good will. The regional policy of the Syrian president was indeed conducted intelligently, sparing the one and the others – Americans and Iranians, Palestinians and Israelis – with the result of today blur in the analysis on the regional implications of the fall of the Syrian regime.

These consequences have already taken shape. On two occasions, on May 15 and on June 5, the Palestinian refugees in Syria tried to cross the borders separating the Golan highs, occupied by Israel. Having observed some restraint towards the first infiltration, the Israeli army has proved far more violent towards the second. Moreover since two weeks, the refugees are more and more to settle in camps on the southern border of Turkey, in a historic area of ​​conflict between Syria and Turkey. Besides this, the special relationship between Syria and Iran may implicate Tehran into the play. So far under control, the impact of the Syrian revolution may thus have a snowball effect on the region.

Compared to the “going to war” attitude against Libya, the international community seems to act here – too – carefully. Earlier this week, the Council of EU Foreign Affairs has severely condemned the attitude of the Syrian government by increasing its sanctions against the Syrian regime and its allies. More and more countries are turning their backs to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, but the Security Council has meanwhile not yet decided on sanctions because of the persistence of the Russian veto. The Syrian situation is complex, to the detriment of the main concerned: the Syrian people.

N.J.O