Syria is literally disintegrating before our eyes. People are dying, whole towns are being wiped out, and events are threatening to destabilise the entire region, if that isn’t already happening. I cannot understand people who say that we shouldn’t intervene, and I will return to this point at the end of this post.
Of course, responsibility for the death and destruction partly lies with the resistance fighters/opposition. But even with outside help, they cannot match the firepower, weaponry and resources of the Assad regime. And as time goes on, more outsiders get involved, whether from neighbouring countries or groups like Al Qaeda. It is, quite simply, a ticking time bomb.
The United Nations can do little. Russia cynically supports the Assad regime because of their self-interest, and China adds its support for its own reasons (probably because of self-interest as well).
Regarding the recent chemical weapons attack, I think there is little doubt that the government were responsible. They dragged their feet over allowing inspectors to visit the site (and by the time the inspectors got there, traces of the original chemicals had most likely reduced to undetectable quantities, at least as far as obtaining any conclusive evidence is concerned). The inspectors even came under fire on their way to the site, which seems unlikely to have been the work of opposition groups, who are supportive of the UN presence.
The only way forward, in my opinion, is to bring the government and resistance fighters together for talks. But this will never happen while Assad has the upper hand. For that reason, targeted attacks on government facilities should be made (e.g. military installations, weapons stores, etc.) The government, once weakened, is more likely to agree to peace talks. These targeted attacks may take place anyway, in direct response to the chemical weapons atrocities, but if they do, they should be broadened in a bid to reduce Assad’s grip on power.
For those who say we shouldn’t intervene, I say this. In years to come, will your conscience be clear if Syria self-destructs and brings down the whole region because we didn’t take limited action at this stage? Mine certainly wouldn’t be.