The enormity of the human tragedy that has engulfed Syria since March 2011 cannot be underestimated. Tens of thousands have been killed, perhaps a million imprisoned and abused. Mothers have lost daughters and sons, brothers have turned on brothers. Millions have been displaced or made refugees. Amid all the chaos and uncertainty, one thing is crystal clear — the country will never be the same again.
Peace remains elusive, even as new proposals are put forth from all sides. The current U.N. envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, strikes an increasingly hopeless tone in his public statements. Syria “is being destroyed bit by bit,” he says. The situation is “very grim.”
Since the Arab League proposal to end the conflict in November 2011, numerous plans have been drawn up, accords have been signed and abandoned, ceasefires ignored and mocked; while in the background the suffering voices of Syrians have often gone unheard.
But Syrians have not only met the farce of the peace process with anguish and anger. Across the country, people have poked fun at the perceived absurdity of the “international community’s” rhetoric compared to the reality through art and free expression. Residents of the small Idlib town of Kafrnabl gained fame by penning satirical posters as a form of dissent.
Iran, Syria and Russia have added their own proposals to end the conflict to those of the Arab League and Western powers, and in the last few days the opposition (or at least the opposition endorsed by Washington) has said it will hold talks with the regime if Assad will play no part in the country’s future. But it’s unlikely peace will be accepted by the activists, the Free Syrian Army and other anti-regime militia, unless a new plan includes the reorganization of the security services and an international peacekeeping force.
Without mention of justice for past crimes in a future peace settlement for Syria, how can people who have seen so much injustice be expected to stand behind it? Without a system of justice to account for decades of oppression, how can the rebels be expected to hand over their arms after the guns fall silent?
Have your say: Do you think peace plans put forward by foreign powers can bring an end to the fighting? Have the plans been too far removed from the reality of the war?