Meetings in Geneva haven’t produced any concrete solution to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria. On the other hand, United States will resume supplying rebels labeled as “moderate” with arms.
Torture evidence and power transfer
No further evidence is needed to prove that the Syrian state is a dictatorship that has been committing human rights violations. However, the timing of the recent report based on leaked photos of torture in Syrian prisons is questionable. It coincided with the Geneva talks to bash the Syrian government, urge power transition and call on for intervention.
Around 27,000 photos of starved and tortured bodies were captured and leaked by a Syrian government defector who claimed that all of the images are of prisoners detained by the authorities. The report that was given to CNN’s Amanpour with a joint exclusive with The Guardian newspaper was written by a British law firm funded by the government of Qatar. It is very essential to investigate and condemn the crimes and torture that prisoners were subjected to. However, it is equally important to question why the Qatari government would be interested in democracy and human rights in Syria, while it is reluctant to apply those values in Qatar. Another factor to keep in mind is how long did the Qatari government keep the photos before leaking it to the public audience.
The Western powers, mainly United States, and the Syrian National Coalition are pushing for a "power transfer" and forming a transitional government in Syria. The Syrian National Council is a Western-backed opposition. Ahmed Al-Jarba, a Saudi-backed Syrian figure, is the head of the coalition. With imperialist powers supporting the coalition, the right to self-determination will be confiscated from Syrians, and the power simply transfered from Assad to another repressive leader--rather redistributed to the people. Like Libya, the West is trying to intervene to undermine the socioeconomic demands of the revolution.
The conflicts in Syria have resulted in a humanitarian crisis that worsens and deepens. Civilians in besieged cities and villages are starving every day. While civilians are starving and not getting food aid, the militants are managing to get arms and weapons used in conflicts with each other and with the government forces.
In a statement prior to the Geneva peace talks, Amnesty International said: “The Syrian authorities may inspect goods entering and leaving towns but must not block the delivery of basic supplies including food and medical aid. Both government and opposition forces must also guarantee safe access for workers delivering life-saving humanitarian aid and immediately end attacks on medical and humanitarian workers.”
In a press conference in Geneva on January 27, UN’s Joint Special Representative for Syria (JSRS) Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters “the humanitarian discussions haven’t produced much.” There is an agreement with the Syrian government that women and children can leave the old city of Homs. “I think the government is willing to make it happen but it’s not easy because there are snipers and there are all sorts of problems,” said Brahimi. “So I am still begging, asking, that we, something be done about these areas, whether these areas are under siege by the Government or by the armed groups.”
Much of the humanitarian discussions have been about the situation in Homs, known as the capital of the revolution that has been under the control of the armed rebels, while ignoring other areas where civilians are suffering from starvation and lack of necessary medication. One of the areas that have been badly suffering is Al-Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp. The opposition’s only concern on Homs might unveil their priorities— armed rebels over civilians.
Western-backed armed groups
“Moderate” is a very vague term used by the West to distinguish between the different opposition armed groups resisting the government forces and combating each other. Reports noted that thousands of rebels were killed in the recent hostilities between each other in several Syrian cities and villages.
Currently, there are many different armed groups claiming to resist the Syrian regime. While the spark of revolution was initially ignited in March 2011 by mass protests that built unity against the regime, each armed group claims to be representing the uprising now. The armed opposition groups that exist now include: the Free Syrian Army, Jabhat Al-Nusra, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Al-Jabha Al-Islamiya and many other groups. The Free Syrian Army is often referred to as the “moderate” group, which has gained the support of the West. However, it has been very hard to differentiate between the different acting forces in Syria.
Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been arming the several opposition groups. While the mass media attempt to divert the attention of the public away from the violations committed by the militants, there is evidences of war crimes committed by the opposition rebels in the name of the revolution. The term “moderate” is very vague and used by the Western powers to legitimize supplying arms to rebels of their choice. For instance, Ahrar Al-Sham claims to be a moderate opposition group in conflict with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. A couple of months ago, members of Ahrar Al-Sham uploaded a video of lashing two men who did not perform Friday prayers in Aleppo. Ahrar Al-Sham leadership admitted to the incident.
Counter-revolutionary forces such as Ahrar Al-Sham are not interested in democracy, but are seeking control with the help of different outside forces such as the Western-backed Saudi Arabia. Opposition armed groups attacked the industrial town of Adra. Hundreds of men, women and children were brutally killed and tortured, and survivors said that armed rebels went from house to house killing members of minority groups. But there has been less sympathy for these victims compared to the everyday condemnations of the authorities’ crimes.
Imperialist forces are hijacking a revolution that began, as part of the Arab Spring, with demands for socioeconomic change. The violence in Syria, from the regime and from Wester-backed groups, has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands. Any solution to end the Syrian crisis has to have Syrians’ right to self-determination as its foremost priority. Solidarity with Syrians means standing against any direct or in-direct Western intervention. While so-called "humanitarian intervention" has to rejected, Syrians’ needs to urgent humanitarian aid must be fulfilled immediately and unconditionally.