THE international community seems to have abandoned its duty to end the slaughter in Syria; instead, the rivals are being armed. With the European Union lifting its arms embargo on Syrian rebels, and Moscow confirming the sale of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to the regime, ground has been prepared for more bloodshed in the Levant. Both the EU and Russia have criticised each other’s move, trading accusations that more arms to the belligerents will mean a prolongation of the conflict. Critical they might be of each other, both must know they are contributing to a widening and worsening of the Syrian conflict.
Israel, which has already fired missiles on its northern neighbour three times, has declared it will not allow the Russian missiles to reach Syria, because they could fall into Hezbollah’s hands. The Shia militia is already a factor in the conflict. It is fighting on the side of the Baathist government, raising fears that Lebanon could be sucked into the conflict. Just recently, three Lebanese soldiers were killed by suspected Hezbollah guerrillas. With three regional states — Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — on the rebels’ side, with the EU pledging more arms for them and Russia offering missiles to Damascus, there is every possibility the conflict could widen and add to Syria’s misfortunes. Already, 1.3 million Syrians have become refugees. Instead of arming either side, the Western powers and Russia should do spadework for the proposed peace talks in Geneva. Earlier this month, Washington and Moscow agreed to convene a peace conference with the avowed aim of forming a transitional government and holding general elections. However, the moves made by the EU and Russia have all but sabotaged the conference. The ones to suffer will be the Syrian people.