Saturday, July 21, 2012

Syria and Lybia: Tale of Two Countries

With the recent devastation and loss of life in Syria, many have wondered why the response of the international community has been so tame compared to a similar situation in Libya. The simple answer is Syria has an ally on the U.N. Security Council with veto powers, while Libya did not. Libya was an oil producer and was much closer to European shipping lanes. However, Syria is in the Middle East with little effect on European shipping routes and trade. Furthermore, Syria is a long-time and ardent ally of Russia and a mass importer of Russian weapons and supplies. And herein lies the problem. Russia has used its veto on every resolution that could lead to the use of force. It should be noted that China has followed Russia's lead on this situation.

And so, Russia has prevented the use of force and outside intervention in Syria, but had no objection with Libya. The only apparent difference between the two tends to be Russia's billions of dollars in sales of arms and long standing treaties with the dictatorship of the Assad ruling family. However, there must come a time in international relations, where the past must be set aside when the human cost is so great. International law and common humanity dictate that the severe loss of human life and crimes against humanity trump trade and old alliances. Hopefully Russia will be softened by the severe condition of the Syrian people and allow international aid to help the people who are victims on either side of the raging conflict. The people of Syria should be allowed to choose their rulers and to speak freely without the fear of death and torture. Until Russia and China stop using veto powers on the U.N. Security Council, it appears that the only option for many Syrians is to flee and hope for the best.

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