Geneva gives peace hope…
Kuwait City - It was a moment to remember when Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, with a rather soft voice, as if he was offering nothing worth mentioning, disclosed that on top of the donations his oil-rich emirate has given so far, he has decided to give another half-a-billion dollars contribution to the U.N. fund for humanitarian efforts in Syria. Moments later, visiting American Secretary of State John Kerry declared his country would make a $380 million donation, other countries followed and by the end of the day, a total of $2.4 billion was pledged at the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria.
Pledging money, spending generously to soothe a bit of the pains of the human trauma of the Syria civil war should definitely be applauded. Particularly if such generous contributions come from the wealthier members of the regional family, donations become all the more meaningful and important. That, of course, cannot be compared even with the immense load of the Syria crisis on the neighboring states:
Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Iraq and Turkey. Even if we assume for few seconds that Turkey is a big country and can handle the growing humanitarian crisis far better than Syria’s other neighbors, I should say Turkey indeed has been acting with that awareness. Together with the unregistered ones, the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey has exceeded one million according to some, and according to others, it is around 800,000. That is an incredible figure to cope with. Turkey has been persistently making some severe mistakes with regard to its overall behavior regarding the handling of the Syria crisis. Including this writer, many people accuse Turkey of contributing more to the aggravation of the problem rather than engaging in peacemaking. Yet, as regards humanitarian efforts, the government must be saluted.
For the past three years, Lebanon has been living through an escalating serious challenge that has started to pose existential threats. Two million or so refugees in a country as small as Lebanon cannot, of course, be compared with, however high it might be, the number of refugees on Turkish territory.
Jordan is not in a better off situation. Yes, Iran is a country that can easily shoulder more humanitarian assistance, but Iraq itself is still burning and there are very strong indicators – as seen last month – that the Syria crisis might trigger a far serious escalation in Iraq as well.
The second Geneva conference is of course a source of hope for everyone wishing to see some sort of a peaceful transition to some sort of normalcy in Syria. Should Iran attend? Why should it not? Is not Iran a sufficient regional factor enough for a Syria conference? Some Islamist zealots might prefer to stay out. Some countries, including Turkey unfortunately, might not be that keen about the participation of the opposition at the meeting.
According to estimates the three-year conflict in Syria has destroyed at least 35 years of human development. More than half of Syrians are now living far below poverty. The whole state and municipal systems collapsed. Basic needs cannot be met. The health situation is appalling.
It has to be the sincere hope of everyone with hearts, minds and brains that the peace talks, due to be held in Geneva on Jan. 22, must succeed and open prospects of a negotiated diplomatic end. If that conference not only brings the Syrian government and the opposition groups fighting it around a negotiating table, but indeed succeeds in forging a transitional governing body with full executive powers and capability and legitimacy to order a halt to violence on the ground, perhaps neighbors and other nations unite next time in pledging donations for the rebuilding of Syria…
Geneva peace is hope; everyone should work to make it come true…