The recent decision from The White House to remove Hezbollah from the terror list, coupled with statements from John Kerry regarding possible future negotiations with Bashar al-Assad, should worry and enrage us all.
In the world of geopolitics, everything is connected, and nothing occurs in a vacuum. Israel’s recent presidential election and US negotiations with Iran over nuclear energy show that actions taken in the Middle East can have far-reaching impacts. In our globalised world even a phone call taken privately in one country can be heard on the other side of the globe.
With this complex web of connected activity ever shifting and changing, and with the US intent on being at the centre of everything, it is their actions which we should take most notice of. Though recent developments with Cuba are cause for optimism, their actions on the topics of Venezuela, and in the case of this article, Hezbollah and Syria are cause for concern.
At face value it seems these issues are not connected, and they are separate policies with no relation to one another, but for those of us that have a better understanding of the events in Syria, the dots begin to connect themselves.
On the 15th of March, as the Syrian conflict entered its fifth year, John Kerry gave an interview expressing the thoughts of the US and the Obama administration. Kerry spoke frankly, declaring that the US hopes to “re-ignite a diplomatic outcome”. He continued by saying “everybody agrees there is no military solution; there’s only a political solution.”
When asked whether the US would be willing to negotiate with Assad, Kerry responded by saying: “well, we have to negotiate in the end.”
Assad, for those that have been hiding under a rock for the last five years, is the man responsible for the ongoing war in Syria. A war that has caused the deaths of roughly 250,000 people, has seen almost four million refugees flee the country whilst seven million more are displaced internally, and has been the reason why 1.5 million civilians have been seriously wounded.
It is a war whereby Assad and his regime have been guilty of indiscriminate targeting of civilians through their use of barrel bombs, torture, and the multiple uses of chemical weapons. All of which are human rights violations and constitute war crimes. The most recent example of Assad’s fondness for brutality came just a few days ago when chlorine gas was used in the town of Sarmin killing six people and injuring many more.
Regardless of these facts it seems that the US is softening in its approach to Assad, with Kerry’s recent declarations proving to be more in line with diplomacy and appeasement, than the non-negotiable opposition that tyrants deserve and indeed require.
Just days after Kerry’s statements on the possibility of future negotiations with the Assad regime in Syria, a report was published by the Senate Armed Services Committee which failed to include either Hezbollah or Iran under its “terrorism” section, something the report had done in previous years.
Iran is one of Assad’s major supporters, and Hezbollah soldiers are frequently active in fighting inside Syria itself. As recently as February The Guardian reported that “Hezbollah, backed by fighters from Iran and the Assad regime, took control of the hills of al-Sarja and al-Arous in the south-western countryside of Damascus.”
Hezbollah are a political and militant movement who are based in Lebanon, though as their excursions into Syria show, they are not opposed to getting involved in conflicts in other nations. Ever since its formation in 1982, the organisation has had close ties to both Syria and Iran, and represent a long-time enemy of Israel who they fight on a regular basis. As well as participating in conflicts across the Middle East they are also responsible for a number of terrorist attacks against Western and Israeli targets.
With Iran and Hezbollah being removed from the terror list, and with Obama administration personnel expressing the view that an end to the fighting in Syria can only be achieved through negotiations with Assad, those opposed to the regime may well feel betrayed.
They have every right to be. As if the world’s silence and inaction were not enough, now it seems their demands for a free Syria, without Assad, are being ignored as well.
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