As many in the UK suffer post-election blues, and those who shouted for a ‘strong and stable’ politics realise the naivety and arrogance of this campaign, those of us fighting battles outside the UK are extremely frustrated.
During in the last 7 weeks of election hyperbole, hundreds of civilians have been slain in Syria by the Assad Regime and Russian air attacks, unchallenged. Brave young men and women of the UK military corps have been trying to defeat ISIL in order to make less likely atrocities that we’ve endured in Manchester and London recently…..their efforts almost completely unnoticed and reported.
Last month the Russians, Iranians and Turks agreed to set up 4 ‘de-escalation zones’ in Idlib, Hama, Ghouta and Darra regions. At one point it looked possible that Trump might wade in to force a peace after he struck regime jets which had delivered the nerve agent Sarin which killed so many civilians in Kan Sheikoun in April. However, with his own domestic issues and an apparently benign trip to the Middle East his enthusiasm appears diminished.
In Darra at the heart of the southern ‘de-escalation zones’ regime and Russian jets have waged a battle which has been mostly unreported in Western countries. Once more civilians and hospitals appear to be the main targets. This targeting of hospitals is designed to break the will of the people as it did in Aleppo just before Christmas 2016. Ask any soldier, and he/she will tell you that their ‘will’ to fight is exponentially diminished if there is no medical support to patch them up.
So what? As the UK wallows in the self-pity of another dreadful election result, we could do something positive to raise the hopes of those floundering in Syria. The de-escalation zones need to turn into ‘safe zones’, where Assad and Putin cannot bomb civilians unchallenged – there are rumours that Russia, US and Jordan are discussing this, but where is the UK?
With Safe zones guaranteed by the Coalition and Putin, a meaningful ceasefire can be policed most effectively I suggest by the UN, who could also distribute aid and help with reconstruction. With all this in place there is an outside chance that the Geneva Process will have the right conditions to deliver a political solution acceptable to most in the next 18 months.
We may have shown political ineptitude at running our own affairs, but the UK still has much global capital on the diplomatic and military fronts which could be effective in helping to deliver peace and a meaningful solution to those who are suffering intolerable degradation and abuse in Syria and aiding the generational struggle against those who would do us harm.