EVEN after 30 months of unrest and anarchy, calm seems a far cry in war-ravaged Syria. Though the use of the nerve agent sarin on August 21, which killed hundreds of people, has put the country on a different trajectory, there seems to be no cessation of hostilities between the regime and the rebels. An air raid on a high school in the northern rebel-held city of Raqa killed 16 people, including 10 students on Sunday, according to a rights group.
With no ceasefire, the basic prerequisite for creating an atmosphere for initiating a dialogue, the investigation by UN inspectors and experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and President Bashar al-Assad's willingness to comply with the UN resolution to destroy its chemical arsenal, look futile.
It's exasperating that the obstinacy and rigidity of the rebels and the regime and the dithering by the UN and the international community resulted in a humungous humanitarian crisis, the world's biggest, according to the UN, rendering over two million Syrians refugees outside the country. The nearly three-year-old turbulence has claimed over 110,000 lives.
The schism between the opposition groups further deepened with several rebel groups severing ties with the Syrian opposition council based in Istanbul, which has been serving a link between the Western nations and the fighters, after US President Barak Obama retracted on his resolve on "limited strike" in the wake of a deal with Russia, a close ally of Syria. Amid unrelenting fighting and loss of life, the exercise in inspection and elimination of chemical weapons may not usher in the much needed calm. And moreover, what's the point of the investigation if it overlooks as to who had been behind the gas attack. The stand of Kofi Annan, the former UN-Arab League peace envoy, advocating a ceasefire by both the warring sides for creating an atmosphere for dialogue, holds good even now. Let's hope the signs of thaw between the US and Iran may augur well for peace in Syria.
© The Brunei Times. All rights reserved. Reprinted by arrangement with Asia News Network.