Ending the Syrian War

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in Munich ahead of the International Syria Support Group Meeting

Syria is currently the world’s greatest humanitarian catastrophe and most dangerous geopolitical hotspot. The Syrian people are caught in a bloodbath, with more than 400,000 dead and ten million displaced.

So begins an article by UN Special Advisor Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs entitled Ending the Syrian War, in which he outlines six principles to guide the international community in bringing this horrific war to a close.  But before turning to those principles he asserts,

It is time for a solution. But such a solution must be based on a transparent and realistic account of what caused the war in the first place.

He then proceeds with devastating clarity to highlight the central role played by the United States in starting this conflict:

The launch of the war can be dated to August 18, 2011, when President Barack Obama and [Hillary] Clinton declared that “Assad must go.” Up to that point, the violence was still containable. Total deaths, including both civilians and combatants, ran perhaps to around 2,900.

According to Sachs, ending the war in Syria requires international adherence to six principles (each of which he describes further in the article):

  • The US must halt attempts to overthrow the Assad regime;
  • The UN Security Council must implement a ceasefire;
  •  All paramilitary activities should cease;
  •  Pressure must be put on the Syrian regime to halt attacks on opponents;
  • A gradual political transition with the support of all stakeholders should occur;
  • Regional actors should take part in peace negotiations.

Since Sachs wrote this article, we have seen real progress on meeting some of his six principles. Notably, the UN Security Council has unanimously endorsed a Syrian Cessation of Hostilities Accord, which came into effect on February 28th.

Click here to read the full article.

For further analysis on the state of the fragile ceasefire agreement, click here.

Photo by REUTERS/Michael Dalder

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