A couple of days ago, over 90 lives were lost in Aleppo. It did not make the news as prominently as the attempted bombing in Chelsea, New York. After over five years of utter destruction and senseless killing by a multitude of factions in this complex war, it is safe to assume “Syrian Lives Do Not Matter” to the rest of the world. One of the steps towards ending the bloodshed in Syria is to impose a ceasefire. You would think that is not a complex thing right?
The realities of the world’s geopolitics is, two main countries exercise undue hegemony over the rest of the over 190 or so countries on earth. Russia and the United States of America someway somehow are the de-facto global police force. Your sovereignty means nothing if anyone of the two countries decide to make nonsense of it.
The two are the ones who hold the key to ushering in some level of bliss in Aleppo, Madaya and a number of other besieged areas in Syria. If they both decide to sit at the table and dress issues out, babies would not be pulled out of rubbles as their mothers lie further deep inside the ruins of blown up buildings. But a lot prevents them from doing so, oil and regional relevance being at the top of that list. Access to the Middle East’s black gold is of immense importance to both counties’ economies and if you do not “keep the Arabs fighting amongst themselves, you cannot get it”
Sometimes however, material persuasions do not explain this dragging of feet. An abstract entity by name of Ego explains why it is seemingly hard to reach any consensus on issues decimating the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
I happened to be a participant in a Model United Nations (MUN) program which simulated the Syrian Crisis. In exploring how to prevent ISIS and other violent militants from killing more Civilians while keeping Assad and other “moderate” factions at bay, the 17 participants in the program formed the Security Council and two observer states. It promised to be an exciting and educative venture for me. But when the paper bearing the name of the country I was going to be representing revealed “The Gre…” some magical stream of vapor whizzed into my nose and filled me superhuman powers.
The Great Britain, one of the five permanent members of the Security Council is a Veto wielding nation. What this simply meant was, I could lean back, fold my hands and swivel around just in time after Uruguay, Egypt and the other “smaller nations” had gone through the motions of debating principles and practicalities just to use my Veto power to get what I wanted. It was either my way or the highway. But the debater in me was not going to allow that to happen.
I immersed myself in the thickness of it all. Proposing motions, leading the discussions on my side of the bloc, poaching for votes whenever possible and determining when to compromise or not. As the hours of deliberations wore on, something became clear; all five delegates with the veto power strutted around the conference room with an immense sense of superiority.
When you empower a group of people disproportionately and place them on a higher dais above others, it is only natural for them to deign over others. You essentially make it possible for the persons to make nonsense of whatever result is produced, regardless of its utility.
The inflation of egos that comes with the Veto power is disturbing hindrance to desired outcomes in International Affairs. You do not need to be privy to the dealings in the inner chambers of the security council to know that it would not take too much from Sergey Lavrov to get John Kerry peeved and in essence 50 more killed from the bombs of Assad due to the inability to arrive at a ceasefire.
The task of our Model UN simulation was to simply come up with a resolution on ending the Syrian War. My stance as delegate from The Great Britain was not a departure from that of the Western Bloc in international affairs. Assad is the cause of the war and logically stemming from that was the need for him to go. But of course Russia does not want that so a compromise was needed.
As much as taking a few steps from my previously entrenched position was worrying to me, it was necessarily to prevent another Aylan Kurdi or Omran Daqneesh. It was my genuine hope that the other bloc was going to yield on other finer details so we could have a resolution that imposed a ceasefire, put in place a representative and transparent transitional body while fighting the common enemy in the name ISIS and other violent militias. But that was not to be the case.
The debate ended up veering into a linguistic one with the question of what constitutes a “military intervention” when parties to the ceasefire broke the pact. I could have clarified that in the draft element my bloc was presenting but I was irked into not doing so. The entire time the simulation was going on, the western bloc had compromised a tad too many times with not a single notable retraction of position by the other side. I did not have a history of animosity against anyone from the divide by I wondered why I had to keep yielding to the other side. Enough was Enough!!!
After weeks of sacrificing time to trek to and from the Accra International Conference Centre, the sitting had nothing to show in terms of a solution to the Syrian War, not that what we had put on paper was going to carry any weight in the real world.
This was me, a boy with no bone to pick with anyone in that room over some lost war in the past or the harboring of a dissident from my country. Yet I was not going to simply add literary clarification to bring peace to war ravaged areas. Imagine the enormous chips on the shoulders of Putin and Obama as they walk into fully air-conditioned rooms with all you can eat buffets to decide the future of emaciated kids in Madaya!!!!