When rumors that former Secretary General to the United Nations Kofi Annan was to be the joint special envoy to Syria, the mood at the UN, where I intern, was very good. With Kofi Annan, the end to the horrible crisis in Syria was surely near. The UN needed a good mood, a reprieve, considering the tension that surrounded the veto of Russia and China on a Syria resolution in the Security Council in early February. But given a death toll in Syria that continues to rise, Kofi Annan may not be enough. And the Security Council, who are responsible for just that -- security of the international community -- is still at a stalemate.
Humanitarian crises should be pretty one-dimensional. Syrian people are dying. They're on the brink of a civil war. That's what we read in newspapers. On newschannels. We see video clips of violence and read reports of increasing casualties. The public sees Syria as it is: a humanitarian crisis.
But I see it for what it has turned out to be here at the United Nations, the most powerful conglomerate of peace: a tug of war between East and West. With the Arab World in the center. What's going on in Syria is more complex than what people think. Even though it really shouldn't be.
A seasoned news journalist gave me a tip to understanding politics: Might Is Always Right. The United States, Europe; the West. To me, the Iraq war is a perfect example of that, as disturbing as that is. And as an Arab-American of Iraqi heritage, I wondered how Might could ever really try to be Right again when it comes to the Arab World. But the crisis in Syria has given the West another opportunity to prove itself Right. And this time it comes at the expense of the Syrian people. And of the Arab Spring.
From what I have observed, the staunch opposition of Russia and China on the last Syria draft resolution has pushed the Syrian conflict into an entire reflection of the Arab World. Russia and China have forced the West to back up their calls for President Bashar al Assad to step down with what seems to be a thematic question -- is it really your right?
In an attempt to address this question, a debate took place earlier this week at the UN Security Council, ambiguously titled: The Middle East: Challenges and Opportunities. Foreign ministers from the permanent, veto-power-holding, five member states -- Russia, France, the UK, U.S. and Germany -- flew in to deliver impassioned speeches alongside member states about the future of the Arab world in light of the Arab Spring. It's time for the Arab world to have their chance at democracy. A chance at freedom. "How can anyone honestly say that civil society is not indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa?" Hillary Clinton said in her remarks, among calling on the Security Council to draft another Syria resolution.
And the West makes a good case, compared to the opposition. Who wouldn't want freedom? But the fact is, the Westis making a case for a world apart from their own. Because once you start talking about spreading democracy and civility to the Arab world, the conversation becomes not about the issue -- helping Syria -- but about helping the entire Arab world catch up to the West.
But to support its case, the Western powers have used the Arab Spring. The Arab world wants what the West wants for them: Democracy. And although they understand that "these revolutions are not ours" as Clinton stated, I wonder if they really do understand that. Because the people of the Arab Spring did not sacrifice themselves for a Western life. Or democracy. They fought for a better version of what they had. And they're still fighting.
While I listened to Clinton and Western powers speak of the success stories of the Arab Spring, Libya and Yemen, I wondered if phrases like, 'democracy just takes long to achieve' would ever get old. And would ever not be used to cover up the turmoil and hardship these countries endure as a result of the Arab Spring and this want of democracy.
Because it wasn't democracy that was at stake in the Arab Spring. It's not democracy that takes long to achieve. Having relatives in Iraq, I can say that peace takes long to achieve. That would be more accurate. But even I shouldn't say that. Such dialogue should only exist among the people who have sacrificed their lives for it.
Which makes me wonder how the Security Council will reach a decision. Not to mention when. Because with each day spent on debates, more and more Syrians die. What will it take?
A colleague jokingly suggested they have their consultations in the middle of Homs.
But Homs might be an idea. No time for debates. No tug of war. Might wouldn't have to prove Right. The five men and women selected to preserve international security would be forced to preserve their own. Just like the Syrian people.
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