In February this year, John Kerry was reported saying that Syria was the “legitimate voice of the Syrian people” (Cbsnews Para.1). For this reason, Kerry said that the U.S was willing and ready to supply the rebels with non-lethal support.
To Kerry, non-lethal support includes medical supplies and foods coupled with financial aid required by the rebels to enhance and maintain peace in the areas liberated from President Assad’s forces in Syria. Through John Kerry’s speech in February while in Rome, Italy, President Obama promised to give additional funding to the rebels in Syria amounting to $60million.
Many nations including Britain also supported the move to give aid to the rebels in the effort to topple President Assad’s forces in the quest to usher in a democratic regime. This paper investigates whether Canada should follow suit and provide the much-needed weaponry support to Syria.
Role of Canada in democratisation of Syria
New York Times reported recently that Syrian forces have fired Israeli troops in the Golan Heights thereby violating the Israeli-Syrian cease-fire line. This attempt is the second in the last ten days that the sides have exchanged fire. The news came on the heels of learning that hundreds of jihadists from Europe had travelled to Syria to fight to overthrow Assad’s regime.
The attempt had the capacity to divide the rebel forces between religious and secular factions each of whom would seek a voice in the post-war rebuilding of Syria. In an effort that is seen as complicating the situation further, Russia and Iran have increased military and financial support for Assad.
These events have forced the United States, Britain, and France to end the weapons embargo to push for increased support of secular rebel forces.
Although the U.S’ foreign policy towards Syria is predominantly organised around providing a harmless support, it is evident that such support may not help the liberation movements in managing to topple Assad’s authoritarian leadership.
Consequently, in an attempt to export democracy, it is arguable that France, Britain, and the U.S would not stand to see the rebel groups defeated by President Assad’s forces and fail in their missions to liberate Syria.
To prevent such an occurrence, nations, which have been championing for export of democracy, would consider providing military support to the liberating forces as part of their foreign policy towards Syria. Canada being one of such nations would need to support and respond appropriately to this effort.
The reasons that would lead Canada to support Syria’s rebels are already implied by her foreign policy towards Syria in terms of imposition of sanctions to the nation. In 2011, as Blakes informed, Canadian “foreign affairs minister, John Baird announced that Canada was imposing broader economic sanction against both North Korea and Syria” (Para.1).
The imposition of sanctions against North Korea was instigated by its attempt to conduct nuclear weaponry tests. Nations that are interested in providing support to aid in the democratisation process of Syria were first to support and put in place sanctions against North Korea before Canada followed suit in 2006 to issue its first sanction against North Korea.
Given that Canada is a mega advocate for democratic systems of governance pursued by America and Britain, it is also likely that it would provide necessary support to the Syrian rebels, which are found appropriate by Canada and the world leading systems of democracy.
Currently, the rebels’ group is desperate for weaponry support. Indeed, according to Fox News, in March this year, Beirut, the leader of the Syrian rebel group fighting to dismantle president Assad’s government said, “…the foods and medical supplies the United States plans to give his fighters for the first time will not bring them any closer to defeating president Basher Assad’s forces in the country’s civil war” (Para.1).
All that is required by the rebel is the weaponry support. For Canada, this argument means that, in the efforts of the country to liberate Syria through its foreign policies, it can no longer impose more sanction on Syria or focus on providing any other support apart from the military and weaponry support since the rebels do not welcome the aid already promised by President Obama.
Important reasons have been cited as to why Canada should consider providing weaponry support to the rebels. With the foreign aid in support of President Assad’s regime by nations that oppose the perception of democracy as the U.S, Britain, France, and Canada among other democratic nations advocate, the quest for the rebel group to topple the current regime remains a nightmare.
In this line of argument, Fox News presents, “Russia as a close ally of Syria that has continued to supply arms to Assad’s regime as well as shielding the country from the U.N. Security Council sanctions” (Para. 11).
Therefore, nations interested in seeing the rebels’ group win will have to provide weaponry support to counter the effects of weaponry support given to the authoritarian regime led by President Assad by conservative nations.
One danger of open support of the rebels in terms of weaponry capability by Canada and other western super powers is that it may appear that such nations are supporting the effort of the rebels’ group to seize power by force. In response to such an effort, Russia and other nations, which are supporting President Assad’s forces, will also intensify their support.
The repercussions of this move would be increasing the threshold of crimes against humanity committed during civil wars such as mass killing of innocent people in the battlefields.
Indeed, the support of Canada in Syria is largely missed as evidenced by The Globe and Mail when it is reiterated, “Syrians are very frustrated by the lack of Canadian support since Canada talks the talk but won’t walk the walk, and Syrians will remember who stood with them in their struggle and those who did not” (Para. 2). Canada needs to let the world feel her contribution in stabilisation and democratisation of Syria.
However, such contributions need to be done with considerations of their implications in affecting the international relations between Canada and countries that support and perceive western super powers as being opposed to the sovereignty of developing economies often intervening where they are not required to in the effort to influence the politics of the developing world.
Syria is struggling to establish a democratic regime through a rebel group seeking to topple President Assad’s authoritarian regime. The civil war, which has now claimed over 70, 000 people, seems rather complicated since either side of the parties in war receives foreign aid.
It is the position of the paper that Canada has noble roles to play to provide weaponry support to the rebels if she is committed to her exportation of democracy efforts. However, such attempts need to be done with a lot of caution so that they do not truncate into more violation of human rights amounting to crimes against humanity.
Blakes, J. Canadian sanction against North Korea and Syria, 2011. Web.
Fox News. Syrian Rebel Chief Says Fighters Desperate For Weapons, 2013. Web.
The Globe and Mail. Canadian loses bid to lead Syria’s rebel; Ottawa’s stance assailed, 2013. Web.