Peace remains a forlorn hope for Syria crisis

2021-03-29 12:05:26

The pigeons of Abdulhamid Hana, 50, a pigeon keeper, on his roof in Syria's eastern city of Raqqa on March 13. [DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP] Political solutions, help for rebuilding war-torn country urged, experts say As the Syrian crisis enters its second decade, hopes of reconstruction any time soon appear as forlorn as ever. Countries and international organizations have expressed hopes recently that political solutions can be found and have called for a willingness to help Syrians out of their humanitarian crisis, but major powers and regional countries are still at loggerheads on the crisis. Even Syria's political factions cannot reach a consensus on the direction of the country's political reconstruction, said Sun Degang, a researcher with the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai. "Over the past decade the Syrian issue has escalated from an endogenous political crisis to a proxy war of major powers, and civilians have become the biggest victims." With this inability to find peace, the suffering of Syrians grows as the country's economic plight worsens, as does displacement, with Western sanctions hindering reconstruction in places destroyed in the conflict. Sanctions and pressure will only cause strong pushback, create more confrontation, intensify and prolong the conflict, bring more suffering to the people, and fail to help solve problems in a fundamental way, said Geng Shuang, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations. A decade of conflict has hit young Syrians especially hard, and they have had to cope with immense economic hardship, had their ambitions frustrated and suffered profoundly psychologically, a report by the International Committee of the Red Cross said recently. In a survey of 1,400 Syrians aged 18 to 25 living in Syria, Lebanon and Germany, almost half said a close relative or friend had been killed in the conflict and one in six reported a parent killed or injured. Half of the respondents reported loss of income due to the conflict and 77 percent said they struggled to afford food. In Syria, where 13.4 million people depend on humanitarian assistance, this rate rose to 85 percent. "For the time being, we are not at the state of reconstruction," said Jacques Pellet, head of the ICRC regional delegation for East Asia. "We are at the stage of having to respond to huge humanitarian needs not being properly addressed." Problems highlighted Over the years, invasion, external occupation, terrorism and unilateral sanctions in Syria have stunted national growth. Khalaf al-Muftah, a Syrian political expert, said the international and regional clash of interests and points of view is "complicating the political landscape" in Syria. "After 10 years of war there is still no real indication about a near end to the crisis, and the reason is that the regional and international powers, not the opposition groups, have become the active factors in the crisis." Some international and regional powers want to dictate conditions to the Syrian government to end the crisis, meaning they have an agenda and want the government to agree on it in order for them to end the crisis, al-Muftah said. There is no quick end to the crisis, he said. Geng said all parties concerned should respond to an appeal by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a global cease-fire, and steps to stabilize security and create conditions for a political settlement. "We call on all parties in Syria to maintain communication with the UN special envoy for Syria, carry out in-depth political dialogue on the basis of existing consensus, and make progress at an early date," Geng said. More importantly, the future of Syria should be in the hands of Syrians. "The Security Council and the international community should adhere to the principle of a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned process and play a constructive role in achieving an early political settlement." Xinhua contributed to this story.