With the Western powers possibly preparing to attack Syria on the grounds of Assad’s allege use of chemical weapons in the suburbs of Damascus, the on-going crisis has acquired a dangerous turn with the both sides sticking to their respective positions. But peaceful negotiation to this crisis is the only option available to avoid an escalation of tensions in the region.
Amidst accusations by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that Syria has been destroying evidence of its chemical weapons shelling near Damascus, Western powers have stepped up their military build-up around Syria despite bitter opposition from Russia and Iran. As The Guardian reports, “warplanes and military transporters” were reportedly moved to Britain’s Akrotiri airbase in Cyprus, which is less than 160 kms from Syria. This has been confirmed by a top official, U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel who told the BBC that American forces are “ready” to launch strikes on Syria if President Obama approves limited airstrikes. “We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfil and comply with whatever option the President wishes to take.”
Along the same, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dimpsey, held a meeting in Amman with the top military officials from ten Western and West Asian nations to discuss possible military action in Syria. Further, these meetings follow a report by Reuters that the U.S. Navy was expanding its footprint in the Mediterranean by deploying a fourth ship that is capable of launching long-range cruise missiles that would bring Syria within their strike range.
Reacting harshly on August 27th, the Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid Moallem, warned that Syria would defend itself in case it was attacked. “We have two options: either to surrender, or to defend ourselves with the means at our disposal. The second choice is the best: we will defend ourselves.” He stressed that Damascus did not use chemical weapons, nor did it hinder the movement of the U.N. inspectors on the ground during their visit to the site on the outskirts of Damascus, where the alleged chemical attack took place. He said that “no country in the world would use chemical weapons against its own people….if they wanted to wage an attack on Syria, the pretext of chemical weapons is in- accurate and vague, and I dare them to reveal their evidence first.”
With the mounting tensions between Syria and the West, Russia has counselled the West to avoid a “clash of civilizations” type of situation in Syria. Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavarov asserted that Moscow was “greatly alarmed by the statements made from Paris and London that NATO may intervene to destroy chemical weapons in Syria without the consent of the U.N. Security Council.” He asserted that Russia would not start a military confrontation with any state over Syria. Iran, a close ally of Syria, has warned of “dire consequences” of foreign military action against Syria.
Evidently, all these developments regarding Syria bode ominously for the peace and security of not only Syria, but also that of the entire Middle East region. So the best course for the West will be to engage Damascus in constructive talks under the auspices of the United Nations and other regional forums where some sort of compromise solution can be found.