Montag, 11. Juli 2011

Random Thoughts on: Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia

Lumping these states together is all sort of a coincidence but it does sound rather nice. But in fact, I am going to comment on two totally different challenges. First, Syria. Second, secessionist movements in Africa.

1) Before we even dive into the question of what to do in Syria, it might be wise to establish what is happening in that country and Amnesty International has made some efforts to find out. In Tell Kalakh Syrian security forces surrounded the city, shelled it with heavy artillery and than ordered snipers to shoot at the fleeing civilians. In order to coerce more civilians into fleeing, the security forces were ordered to sabotage the city's water supply. Civilians that were apprehended were regularly tortured, including boys aged less than 18 years and seniors. Men and women are being separated. Sometimes the bus-loads of arrested men were brought to cities known to be loyal to the regime, where they were than mistreated by the people of these cities and than brought to further interrogation and torture to Damascus or Homs. Detainees were beaten on their wounds and regularly abused. So I would join Amnesty International in its call on the Syrian security forces to end the abuse, though I have the vague feeling that that won't take us anywhere. The conduct of an apparently vicious dictatorship is not going to change, just because we would really like that to happen. Sometimes it is a terrible sentencing to say that politics (and its final extension in form of war) is the art of the possible. So it is unfortunate that our hands are tied in Libya, when the people of Syria clearly need help (though we are still doing the right thing in Libya). But in the meantime, why not at least do, well how is it put in the world of politics, ah, what is possible? Put pressure on Libya in two ways: 1) Let us recall our ambassadors to Damascus, and 2) let us put more pressure on the Syrian-Iranian alliance by making a more concerted effort to interfere with the weapons-smuggling to Hezbollah.

2) Speaking of Syria, another rogue state has seen part of its territory secede in recent days. So, a warm welcome to South Sudan, the most recent addition to the club of nations. One of the fears usually associated with the secession of territory and the foundation of new states in Sub-Saharan Africa is that it will bolster the call for independence by other secessionist movements that would challenge the borders inherited from the period of colonialism and imperialism and hence ultimately challenge the entire composure of the African continent.

But the truth is that this is a fully overstated case. The last African nation to gain independence was Eritrea in 1993. And in Eritrea's case no colonial border was altered. To the contrary, a state was merely resurrected within its former colonial borders. Though the exact demarcation of its borders has triggered wars with nearly every single neighbour state and Eritrea is on the verge of becoming a failed state (more to the point, Eritrea should be one of our most pressing worries, once we've dealt with, I don't know, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi-Arabia, Sudan). But nonetheless, no secessionist movement gained any momentum from Eritrea's independence. There is another de facto state that should in fact be internationally recognised and that's Somaliland. And since Somaliland would gain recognition only in its previous colonial boundaries (the boundaries of British Somaliland), another state would be recognised in what effectively, though not intentionally, amounts to strengthening the colonial border system in Africa. So don't get your hopes up, Biafra, is all I am saying and don't let the media fool you. There is not going to be a wave of secessionist movements in Africa plunging the continent in chaos.

Keine Kommentare: