As the UN comes closer to reaching a resolution on Syria to give up its chemical weapons, DW asks three Syrians how, if at all, the international community can help bring the conflict to a close.
DW: In what way should the international community be involved - or become more involved - in the Syrian conflict?
Ammar Abdulhamid is a Syrian-born writer and human rights activist. He co-founded the Tharwa Foundation, which has been working for over a decade to support and encourage democratic principles and practices in the Middle East and North Africa:
The international community needs to realize that while the situation in Syria seems to be contained within its borders, in reality, the ground is being quietly prepared in neighboring countries for a catastrophic spillover. Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and even Turkey will be affected. The longer the conflict lasts in Syria, the closer we get to a regional meltdown. Other reasons for intervention are to give credibility to the concept of international justice: putting up with the kind of impunity Assad has shown makes a mockery of international norms. Acts of genocide are clearly involved, and he is clearly guilty, how can we continue to ignore that?
True, the international community has ignored similar situations before, but perhaps that's why we keep having them. Laws and norms are meaningless if there is no political will to enforce them. If we keep resigning ourselves to having mass murder as part of our lives, how can we ever hope to improve our lives and give meaning to the international justice system? Assad may not have a beard and he may not say “Allahu Akbar” (God is the greatest) as he gives interviews to Western journalists, but he has more blood on his hands than all the soldiers of al Qaeda.
The formula [for resolving the conflict] is simple, although the implementation will be complex: launch strikes against Assad positions, especially airports and major military installations, arm moderate groups and task them with securing their local communities, a process which will bring them in conflict with al Qaeda affiliates, and finally call on all parties to join a new political process in Geneva.
Bassam Al-Kuwatli is a Syria expert and peace activist:
Syrians want the blood shed to stop and then start moving toward a more democratic society. This process is impossible while Assad and his family are still there killing the Syrian people in order to hold into power. Syria is not that far from Europe's shores and Europe will suffer as a result of increased illegal immigration, and as a result of the radicalization going on right now in Syria as a result of the continued killing.
Therefore the international community will need to assist the Syrian people in getting rid of Assad and in moving toward democracy. This help will have to be first militarily in training and equipping the more moderate FSA brigades, then politically and economically to advance the concepts of democracy, plurality and citizenship. Military force [is needed to stop the conflict]. The more we wait the more complex it will become.
Mustafa Haid, founder and director of Dawlaty, a Syrian organization committed to democracy, human rights, non-violent activism and gender equality:
There are three areas where the international community and especially Europe can help in Syria: Accountability, supporting civil society and humanitarian action. While Russia and the United States are working on a political solution, nobody is protecting the civilians in Syria. We think Assad’s impunity gave him the confidence to cross all red lines - including the use of chemical weapons, heavy weapons, airstrikes and ballistic missiles - and that this has encouraged other partners to commit war crimes as well. Europe should become involved in accountability, and not just in terms of the ICC. There are some other options as well, such as a universal jurisdiction mechanism and national trials for Syrian officials with dual nationality and European fighters who support the extremists.
Before the war there was no civil society because we were not allowed to work in that field, and so when the uprising started, there was a gap which was then filled by extremists. In northern Syria, there is an opportunity to support the services of civil society - because extremists in Syria are not only fighting, they are providing services and even opening their own schools to recruit teenagers to fight and are giving food baskets to the families that send their children to those schools. In that part of the country, I think civil society and humanitarian programs should be in power.
The more there is a delay in solving the issues, the more complicated it becomes. The international community is not working towards a solution. They consider it a war between two sets of baddies, even though that is not the case. And they are therefore not committed to resolving the situation.
As Syrians we cannot continue with the Assad regime, as he and many of his officials have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes since march 2011. This regime - by which I mean Assad and his father before him – has left no space for civil society or political opposition, it is complicated for us to find a comprehensive opposition body to lead Syria and give guarantees for those who are suspicious and afraid about the future.
The dilemma is that on the one hand I want the killing to stop – an average of between 100 and 200 people are being killed every day, and mostly in indiscriminate attacks - but on the other hand we are not going to accept a compromise in which officials who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity will continue to lead this country.