Start of a proxy war?

The Syrian National Council, with the help of the international community is to start paying the Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar Al Assad’s forces.

This decision is not only an important breakthrough, it consolidates the SNC’s standing as a legitimate and internationally recognised opposition body. It also affirms unanimous consent for increasing non-military aid to the rebels from the 83-member Friends of Syria group that recently met in Istanbul. The boost in support to the opposition alliance is also expected to raise  the stakes in the fight to unseat Assad. With the United States and other regional states pledging $100 million in non-military aid to the SNC — for salaries for the rebel fighters — the strategy for Syria has taken a different overtone. So far, external military intervention or supply of weapons to the rebels has been left out but the die seems to have been with the decision to  pay salaries to the rebel fighters.

The aim is to also encourage defections within the Syrian forces and to create deeper schisms in the regime that is battling violent dissent. With Washington also providing communication equipment to aid the fighters, the stage for a proxy war may have been set. To date, a year after the Syrian crisis broke out, the international community has come under criticism for not doing enough to halt Assad’s brutal killings of civilians. Facing the Syrian government’s refusal to implement Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan by announcing  a ceasefire even after agreeing to the same and Russia and China’s refusal to support  a Security Council resolution for tougher sanctions, there is little choice left for the Friends of Syria except deliberate counter measures as witnessed in Istanbul. Without engaging in an open confrontation and sending in a UN-led contingent or arming the rebels, this may have been the least of the drastic measures that could be employed.

At the same time Assad has been issued another warning  to implement the ceasefire without further delay as the proposed peace plan  cannot indefinitely wait to be put into action. Already at least 10,000 people have been killed. Any further delays  in taking concrete action could only spell further disaster for the Syrian people who have to bear the biggest brunt.

There  is also the danger of an escalation of violence as government forces start reprisals in the wake of the recent development. It is highly unfortunate that Assad rejected all previous diplomatic efforts for peaceful political reforms, hereby letting events deteriorate to this extent.

Source: Khaleej Times

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