The Guyana government should back people’s right to democracy in Syria

Dear Editor,

I notice that our government has called for Western military restraint in Syria and has expressed solidarity with the socialist regime of Bashar al-Assad. Our government should side with the cause of righteousness. We should back freedom and peoples’ right to democratic governance considering our struggle against a dictatorship. Any government or organization that uses weapons of mass destruction killing innocent people deserves punishment and must be punished. It is not absolutely determined as yet whether the Syrian government used chemical weapons.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has asked for more time to determine whether chemical weapons were used and who used them.  This is not easy to determine in Syria given that several warring factions have access to them. However, if the Bashar al-Assad regime uses chemical weapons, the world should and must come together to punish it. The use of chemical weapons is against international law and the perpetrators must be punished. The world body should decide what is the right punishment for Assad if it is determined he ordered their use.

The Obama administration is convinced, from its intelligence sources, that the government of Syria was responsible for the most recent chemical weapons attack near Damascus, which Syrian opposition forces and human rights groups allege killed hundreds of civilians.  The Syrian government denies using nerve agents on its own p  eople and has allowed UN weapons inspectors into the country to investigate.

In previous chemical attacks against civilians, it was not certain that Assad’s forces had used them.  It was reported that the opposition may have used the weapons to make it appear that Assad was the guilty party in order to draw the West into the conflict.  But this time around, the US and Western allies believe the Syrian government was complicit in using nerve gas.

US Secretary of State John Kerry called the chemical attack a “moral obscenity” vowing to take tough action against Assad, though how and when is being debated with Western allies. The use of cruise missiles is being contemplated against Syrian military targets. President Obama says he is weighing his options. China, Russia and the Arab League are against military strikes and prefer diplomatic sanctions. Obama would prefer not to attack Syria fearing the immediate fall of Assad and no better alternative. But unlike in the past when the US facilitated dictators to kill political opponents because it was in its interest, the US can’t ignore the use of nerve gas to kill people – the regime must be punished.  There are no great policy options in Syria because the US does not really want to remove Assad unless there is a secular alternative.  The US is reminded that in nearly all of the regimes that changed hands in the region over the last three years,  Islamists took over.

Several Stanford university scholars, according to an AP report, discussed the intelligence and implications of military action against Syria. They say that military strikes could destabilize the Assad regime so badly as to strengthen al Qaeda terrorists operating inside Syria as well as attract outside recruits to the terrorist group to fight forces tied to the US. The scholars believe military attacks could also intensify sectarian violence. One scholar points out that the US is concerned that military intervention short of using ground troops is unlikely to lead to the creation of a new post-Assad regime that will be friendly to the United States. Also, as one scholar remind the public, “the Obama administration said several times that ‘stability’ in Syria – even if that means a continuing, limited civil war – is more important than a decisive victory over –Assad.” The Obama administration is hesitant to side with the rebel groups because all of them have radical elements determined to establish an Islamist regime that may be worse than Assad.

The US and the West are caught in a tough situation on Syria. Any dictator who is on a killing spree must be punished and the Guyana government should not be opposed to punishing a dictator. However, first it must be established that the Syrian regime was behind the use of deadly chemical attacks against civilians.

Yours faithfully,
Vishnu Bisram

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