A Bleak Balance Sheet: The Second Anniversary of Syria's Civil War

13-03-2013

While the international community remains unable to solve the two-year-old Syrian crisis, the humanitarian crisis grows: the number of refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries stands at one million. Internally displaced people number three million, and the dead 70 000 — not to mention the damage wrought on cities and villages, including many of great historical and cultural significance. What began as a small pro-democracy protest has evolved into a civil war complicated by sectarian strife. The Syrian opposition lacks unity and includes jihadist elements. So long as the international community also remains divided — and so long as Russia, Iran and Iran’s ally Hezbollah continue to unconditionally support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — the conflict's grim statistics are bound to worsen. The EU, which cannot claim to have acted more decisively or righteously than its partners at the UN, is assuming a leading role in delivering humanitarian assistance to the victims of the war within Syria and in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. Any military intervention is excluded — at least for the time being — but efforts to find a political solution will require cooperating intensively with Russia — a significant challenge, but one that can no longer be set aside.

While the international community remains unable to solve the two-year-old Syrian crisis, the humanitarian crisis grows: the number of refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries stands at one million. Internally displaced people number three million, and the dead 70 000 — not to mention the damage wrought on cities and villages, including many of great historical and cultural significance. What began as a small pro-democracy protest has evolved into a civil war complicated by sectarian strife. The Syrian opposition lacks unity and includes jihadist elements. So long as the international community also remains divided — and so long as Russia, Iran and Iran’s ally Hezbollah continue to unconditionally support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — the conflict's grim statistics are bound to worsen. The EU, which cannot claim to have acted more decisively or righteously than its partners at the UN, is assuming a leading role in delivering humanitarian assistance to the victims of the war within Syria and in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. Any military intervention is excluded — at least for the time being — but efforts to find a political solution will require cooperating intensively with Russia — a significant challenge, but one that can no longer be set aside.