The game of safe zones
Orient Net - Asharq Al-Awsat 2017-02-09 05:00:00
It seems that Syrians no longer have a say about their future, despite the several conferences, talks, and suggested solutions.
U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura decided who represents opposition organizations. Russians wrote the constitution for a future Syrian and brought it to Astana conference. Meanwhile, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said on behalf of Syrian refugees that there won’t be safe zones.
The current situation in Syria is more difficult and weirder than any other in the past few years.
Millions of Syrian refugees became a ball thrown between governments’ courts especially after the U.S. President Donald Trump surprised everyone when he adopted the idea of establishing “Safe Zones” for refugees inside Syria. The same Safe Zones that the former U.S. President promised to create in 2012, and then he abandoned.
The current situation is not only scary – it is very terrifying.
Over 12 million Syrian refugees are the largest number since War World II. They became a threat to the security of countries like Turkey and Lebanon, as well as the continuity of European Union’s entity, and became part of the dispute inside the United States.
Like any other matter concerning Syria, positions vary regarding the Safe Zones. Russians are against the plan, and it was criticized by FM Sergei Lavrov. He later altered his statement in what seems a tactic to avoid embarrassing Trump.
Iran and the regime reiterated their rejection for such an idea on the grounds that it is a violation of the country’s sovereignty, and because Assad wants to get rid of millions of Syrians who are against him after his geographical cleansing operation.
Turkey insists that refugees should remain inside Syria, and refuses to host anymore, after it became a target for terrorist organizations exploits Syrians.
Europe, as well, considers this a primary security issue. It wants to put an end for the immigration whether by instituting Safe Zones inside or outside Syria.
Whereas Lebanon wants to stop the immigration wave towards its territory and ensure the return of million refugees that are already on its land. For the first time, Beirut had adopted a position against that of Damascus, when the new President Michel Aoun said that he supports Trump’s idea of Safe Zones inside of Syria, calling for the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland under the supervision of the regime.
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, who is supposedly the most concerned person about finding a shelter for millions of refugees in exile, returned from Damascus and said he’s against establishing safe zones for refugees inside Syria!
Grandi’s statement is a bit strange because he does not even have an alternative solution.
Can he convince other countries to continue hosting the current millions of refugees and receive the millions who will follow them? Of course not.
Can he convince hosting countries, like Lebanon, to continue to bear the burden of this massive number of people? He tried and failed.
We can’t say that Grandi is completely wrong. Protecting these safe zones is almost an impossible mission. At the same time, he is forgetful of the fact that millions of refugees not only suffer from the lack of security but they also from hunger and cold and homelessness.
There is no perfect solution. Despite that, a proposal of safe zones can put an end to the influx of refugees and stop the sectarian cleansing, which has been the adopted policy through which the Syrian problem is exported to the rest world instead of limiting it to the regime.
Millions of displaced Syrians were a profit for terrorist organizations, as they recruited angry men willing to fight under any slogan. They used these people in terrorist operations against friendly and neutral countries, their enemies and against Syrian organizations while fighting absurd wars.
This is the result of the displacement policy Syrians have been subjected to during the past six years. Refugees have now become a major cause and they may be paving the way to a peace project, an urgent matter.
Syrian refugees have become the most important cause in the world and they may be the key to put an end to massacres and displacements.
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed (Asharq Al-Awsat)