Despicable strike on aid convoy leaves ceasefire deal in tatters

EDITORIAL

A glimmer of hope in the Syrian tragedy is dying.

First a United States-led airstrike on Saturday, intended to hit Islamic State positions, instead killed more than 60 Syrian soldiers. Then came the despicable attack on a UN aid convoy on Monday that killed 20 civilians, including the head of the local Syrian Red Crescent.

A tentative peace process is derailing before it could take hold.

What happened on Monday is still being disputed but the essential facts are clear. A UN aid convoy taking desperately-needed supplies to 78,000 people in a rebel-held area of Aleppo was attacked over a three-hour period, and there are reports a Russian fighter jet was overhead.

The UN had no choice but to stop further aid supplies, adding to the unbelievable suffering of the people of Aleppo.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, speaking as chairman of a special UN Security council debate, lashed out at the international community for its failure in Syria — a position that reflects world opinion and would be supported by even his strongest political opponents here.

Outgoing UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon gave what many consider to be his strongest speech ever, saying “we are at a make or break moment”.

The US is blaming Russia for the attack and Secretary of State John Kerry has called for the grounding of all aircraft. Russia denies the allegation and points to the earlier strike on Syrian troops.

The huge concern is that if the ceasefire deal entirely fails, which seems inevitable, the situation could devolve into a proxy war between the US and Russia — taking the world back to the dark days of the Cold War of last century, in places like Korea and Vietnam.

The Assad regime, which is prepared to drop barrel bombs on civilians, is repugnant to many while some of the US-backed forces seeking its overthrow are far from democratic. But it is the fate of the Syrian people that is most important. It is towards them that the world’s compassion and energies must be directed.

A glimmer of hope in the Syrian tragedy is dying.

First a United States-led airstrike on Saturday, intended to hit Islamic State positions, instead killed more than 60 Syrian soldiers. Then came the despicable attack on a UN aid convoy on Monday that killed 20 civilians, including the head of the local Syrian Red Crescent.

A tentative peace process is derailing before it could take hold.

What happened on Monday is still being disputed but the essential facts are clear. A UN aid convoy taking desperately-needed supplies to 78,000 people in a rebel-held area of Aleppo was attacked over a three-hour period, and there are reports a Russian fighter jet was overhead.

The UN had no choice but to stop further aid supplies, adding to the unbelievable suffering of the people of Aleppo.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, speaking as chairman of a special UN Security council debate, lashed out at the international community for its failure in Syria — a position that reflects world opinion and would be supported by even his strongest political opponents here.

Outgoing UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon gave what many consider to be his strongest speech ever, saying “we are at a make or break moment”.

The US is blaming Russia for the attack and Secretary of State John Kerry has called for the grounding of all aircraft. Russia denies the allegation and points to the earlier strike on Syrian troops.

The huge concern is that if the ceasefire deal entirely fails, which seems inevitable, the situation could devolve into a proxy war between the US and Russia — taking the world back to the dark days of the Cold War of last century, in places like Korea and Vietnam.

The Assad regime, which is prepared to drop barrel bombs on civilians, is repugnant to many while some of the US-backed forces seeking its overthrow are far from democratic. But it is the fate of the Syrian people that is most important. It is towards them that the world’s compassion and energies must be directed.

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Michael Pharaoh, Auckland - 3 years ago
The facts surrounding this war are clear to be seen. Unfortunately the outcome is a seething and volatile mess. This has always been a geo-political proxy war - not a civil war. It has the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other middle eastern players on one side - and Syria, Iran and Russia on the other.
Assad's regime was ruthless to opponents but was hugely popular within Syria - even at the time of the so-called "popular uprising". The rebellion has been implemented by a large number of foreign jihadi and supported with arms and supplies by Assad's geo-political enemies through a porous Turkish border. This middle eastern play is nothing new. The outcome can be seen in Iraq, Libya and Syria and traces back several decades. A quick google of the 1953 Iranian coup may enlighten those to the game that the West has played.
Unfortunately we have ample recent evidence to show that once the lid is lifted, it is very hard to return to peace. Right now a return to control by the Assad regime is the most likely path to peace. This is however the opposite of what the US, Turkey, Saudi alliance wants because of his pro-Iranian and Russian stance. This war is muti-layered along geo-political - then religious and economic lines.
We have seen the chaotic outcome of resistance in Iraq and Libya and I suspect that in Syria it will eventually be the same - with more suffering to come for the local people. It is just a pity that here in New Zealand we are fed the good guy vs. bad guy fantasy. The facts are out there if you look beyond the propaganda.

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