A pipe dream of a more peaceful Middle East

In the year since the first protest in Syria took place (January 26th according to our universal source of truth, Wikipedia), much has happened, but little has changed.  Assad is still in power and the army and police still maintain order in the traditional way of dictatorship  – arresting or shooting dissidents.  Assad regularly takes to the airwaves and declares his intent to remain in office, regardless of who inside or outside of Syria calls for his resignation.  Except for Russia and Iran, Assad and his government have little support in the international community, and a great deal of opposition.  Europe, many Asian and the majority of Arab states are opposed to Assad’s violent methods and his continuance in office.  The Arab League has taken an almost unprecedented stance, calling for the removal of a sitting Arab government.  The Arab League has sent a delegation to Syria to observe and report on the causes and effects of the violence.  The presence of the League’s observers only seems to have spurred the government to increased violence.  Every day dozens, if not hundreds, of people a reported killed by the government forces.

Although, the League is calling for the Assad’s resignation, it has no mechanism for forcing the issue.  So after weeks of renewed calls for Assad to step down and threats of boycott and diplomatic isolation, the Arab League has taken taken the case to the United Nations.  The UN will be debating a resolution on Syria next week; traditionally United Nation resolutions have little immediate or direct impact.  But at least they make clear where every country stands on a given issue; and occasionally they lead to economic sanctions that may or may have an impact.  I listened to an interview on Arab television earlier in the week, the interviewer asked the “Arab expert” what he thought of the actions taken so far by the Arab League.  He answered, “If you think the United Nations is a powerless joke, you haven’t seen anything – the Arab League is much worse as a joke and has much less power.”  That statement seemed to match everything I have read or seen about the league – it seems pretty accurate to me. The Arab League and the United Nations may be jokes and powerless, but they are the best we have at the moment.

For the world at large,  the United Nations is the only mechanism we have, it may be flawed, but the world without a United Nations is more flawed in my opinion.  Back to the Arab League, today I listened to another interview on Arab television, this time with a Tunisian.   He talked about creating an Arab world ruled by democratic governments, countries where the citizens had both economic and political freedom.  He said he hoped that Tunisia could be the foundation of an Arab Union, a stage past the Arab League – a union modeled after the European Union.  Wow! Suppose there was both a European and an Arab Union – it would make as much as 40 percent of the world one (two, but they might act in congress mightn’t they?) country without borders; groups of nation states cooperating for economic prosperity, but insisting on peaceful coexistence and democracy.  Probably that is just another pipe dream – you know the kind of dream you have while smoking one of those pipes? But in a world filled with violence,  we all need a little pipe dream of peace once in a while – don’t we?


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January 2012
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