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Up to 250,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war so far, and more than 11m Syrians have become refugees or displaced within Syria. That’s the equivalent of twice the population of Cork City killed and twice the population of all of Ireland homeless.
The suffering in the Middle East did not happen by some unavoidable catastrophe like a tsunami. The chaos let loose by the US/Nato-led resource wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya have spawned reactionary forces such as Isis, whose calculated violence and reign of terror is the equivalent of the German and Japanese reign of terror during the Second World War.
The focus, therefore, must be to find immediate ways of stopping the slaughter and suffering and then examine what has caused these multiple but closely interconnected crises, and find effective ways of preventing such crises and suffering into the future.
The United Nations is the international organisation specifically set up 70 years ago for the purpose of maintaining international peace and dealing with refugee crises. In both respects the UN has failed.
The Palestinian refugee crisis and the Arab/Israeli conflicts in 1948 were among the UN’s early challenges. Sixty-seven years later, these conflicts are unresolved and there are now more than 4.3m Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA. The problem was, and is, that the UN Charter was drafted by the five Security Council permanent members, who placed themselves above the UN, and outside of its controls or sanctions, by virtue of their veto powers. They have abused their powers consistently, beginning with the Korean War and Cold War proxy wars.
Compromises have to be made in the Middle East. In both Syria and Iraq, the keys to unlocking these conflicts are probably held by Russia and Iran. Russia played an important role in the disposal of most of the Assad regime’s chemical weapons and the recent agreement on Iranian nuclear issues, combined with the important role that Iran is playing in confronting Isis in Iraq, point towards Russia and Iran being key players in ending these conflicts.
Razor wire and water cannons on Europe’s borders will solve nothing.Today is UN International Day of Peace. One day of peace is pointless. The people who would avoid being killed by one day of peace would probably be killed anyway in the following few days as conflicts resume.
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