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Arming Syrian opposition may lead to civil war   2012-02-24 13:48:43

The two-day Friends of Syria Conference, aimed at rallying support for the Syrian opposition, starts in Tunis on Friday, and outsiders will be watching closely whether it will grant essential backing such as arms to rebels in unrest-stricken Syria.

At this point, it should be reiterated that rashly arming the Syrian opposition or forcing a so-called regime change is a risky and heavily costly option, which may drag the Middle East country into a full-blown bloody civil war.

The meeting, attended by senior diplomats from the Arab League, Europe and the United States, certainly will ratchet up pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has vowed to fight anti-government forces to the bitter end.

Western powers have vehemently demanded al-Assad's departure, but stopped short of announcing a military intervention at this stage. However, they insist all options are still on the table.

The participants to the conference are expected to seek concrete measures, such as calling for access for humanitarian aid to Syria's violence-hit regions and an arms embargo to add more pressure to Damascus.

But Syrian rebels have all along asked Western countries to arm them, and it is still uncertain whether Friday's conference will satisfy their appetite.

It should be pointed out the reckless supply of weapons to the rebels is sure to bring a more violent reaction from Syria's government troops and plunge the country into a full and devastating civil war, which is not at all in the interests of Syrian civilians.

Before all hopes vanish, the international community should give dialogue a chance.

Parties concerned shouldn't turn a blind eye to the fact that President al-Assad is substantively responding to demands for domestic reforms.

A referendum on a draft constitution on Sunday will allow Syrian citizens to opt for new freedoms, end the monopoly on power of al-Assad's Baath Party and set a timetable for multiparty elections.

Under the new constitution, President al-Assad will end his two seven-year terms in 2014 at the latest and, with it, his family's 40-odd years of control over the country.

Negotiations between the pro- and anti-government camps are a recognition of the strength of antagonistic factors in Syria, which obviously can't wipe out the other side easily, and will serve as a pragmatic and feasible way to strike a peace deal and curb more bloodshed.

At any time, military methods should be the last option.

source : Xinhua     editor:: Ma Ting
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