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Justice delayed is justice denied. It applies to decisions too. Delayed decisions can be less consequential and fruitful than those made at the right time. America’s decision to go for a shift in its Syria policy, at least as described in the media, is an example. The Secretary of State, John Kerry, announced that the US would, for the first time, give non-lethal aid to the rebels and would more than double the support to the civilian opposition. It will provide the Free Syrian Army with medical equipment and ready-to-eat meals and give the civilian opposition $60m in humanitarian aid for liberated areas. Officials told the media that Washington was also helping train rebels at an unspecified base in the region.
Right from beginning, Barack Obama has been loath to getting involved in Syria though his own officials had, during the end of his first presidency, recommended a deeper role like supplying arms to the rebels. The latest decision shows that the president hasn’t changed his mind, and the uncertainty it brings will have disastrous consequences for the conflict in Syria.
Syria is on the verge of disintegration. Meetings and talks to find a solution are reaching nowhere, with various sides deeply divided on the way forward. The Friends of Syria met in Rome on Thursday, but progress was scant. The differences of opinion are too many. The West is seriously worried about the presence of Islamists among the fighters, and it’s a question which the opposition has failed to address satisfactorily. Despite their fervent pleas for more help, the opposition hasn’t been able to consolidate its presence and unify the disparate groups. Lack of unity at the time of revolution is a sure recipe for future disaster.
The United Nations says about 70,000 people have been killed in Syria so far, and with at least 5,000 people a day fleeing their conflict-ravaged homeland, the total number of refugees is expected to top 1.1 million soon. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has sent a desperate warning. “The military solution in Syria is leading to the dissolution of Syria,” he said in Geneva, asking: “What atrocity must occur to finally stir the world to act?”
Two years into the crisis, the lesson we have learnt is that diplomacy has accomplished little. Direct military intervention is the only way to bring an end to Syrians’ suffering. The current fighting will help neither the Bashar Al Assad regime nor the rebels because both sides are caught in a deadlock. The opposition and their backers abroad need to talk more to find a way forward.