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A Week in Foreign Policy – Trends for 2012

It has been a busy week in the international arena; an assassination in Iran, Syria descending further into civil war, results of elections in Egypt, alleged US war crimes in Afghanistan and Burma(Myanmar) coming in from the cold. We are but fourteen days into the new year and we are already seeing the seeds of new crises, conflicts and political tensions – not to mention the continuation of old rivalries and problem cases. The last seven days could give an indication of future trends in international politics for 2012 and the complexities that western policy-makers will face.

More positively, we are seeing potential glimmers of hope; democratic movements are gaining a foothold across the world, especially in the Middle East and Asia. Policy-makers and global strategists will be keenly watching events as they unfold, trying to predict just what 2012 may have in store for us. Their lack of foresight in 2011 and their failure to predict events – especially the Arab Spring movement – will lead to a greater push to be proactive rather than reactive.

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Bad News for the Syrian Government: Violence Will Only Lead to Isolation

The decision of the Arab League to Suspend Syria in mid-November led to a somewhat predictable show of violence, with raging groups of protestors storming embassies and missions “responsible” for this suspension. Diplomats and representatives of the states that voted for Syria’s suspension are facing life-threatening situations and some have had return to their countries. The violence is to be expected as Syria, being not only a member of the Arab League, but a founding one, is now facing imminent suspension on Wednesday. There is one major issue that hides in the shadow of this violence and flees of diplomats, the repercussions to the future. The suspension of Syria from the Arab league and its resulting violence are not merely leading to diplomats leaving the country. The underlying problem is evident with the repercussions that this issue will have on the relations between the states represented by these fleeing diplomats and Syria. Syria is now not only losing its membership to the Arab League that it so proudly founded, but the violence resulting from the suspension is a threat to the relations with other states. The US already withdrew its ambassador last month, while countries such as Turkey and Saudi-Arabia have started withdrawing most of their diplomats. The question is what comes next? What will happen to Syria? My fear is isolation as a result of uncontrollable violence towards diplomacy is inevitable.

It has now been almost a month and Syria is mentioned every day if not minute. It has been unavoidable to notice the turmoil brought by the events of November. Now, more than ever, Syria is being watched by Western countries with an eye that unfortunately lacks trust. It was only a few days ago the United States starting keeping Syria’s chemical arms progress under watch, as now they even fear a possible attack. History has shown that once a country starts being watched due to such fear, or politics of fear to be more specific, they directly become part of ‘the black list’. Looking at it realistically, the consequences of being black-listed will be innumerable. Starting from taxation watch to lowered travel rights, Syria will grow defensive and paranoid of their neighbours and the world. It is only a matter of time until this country becomes fully isolated and loses its diplomatic ties with the west and the rest of the world.

It took less than 30 days for such drastic changes to occur, but it is not over yet. Syria has now grown weary not only of other countries but its own people too. A few days ago a free blogger was arrested for expressing her discontent. Following this issue, Syria banned the use of iPhones and iPads in order to silence its citizens from expressing journalistic opinions over the situation. It is somewhat a scary thought to see that a country could do this in the 21-st century, who knows what else will happen; all that can be seen right now is fear, lack of trust, and paranoia. Will this be the end of Syria’s diplomatic relations? It is all up to the future to tell us.

Syrian uprising is gaining momentum and support, when will Bashar al-Assad finally step down?

The protests and uprising in Syria have been gaining momentum ever since the event which sparked the beginning of the unrest.  The uprising against the Syrian government began on 26 January 2011, when Hasan Ali Akleh poured petrol over his head and set himself on fire, in the same way Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi had in Tunis on 17 December 2010. However the protestors have met fierce opposition by the government; it is estimated by the UN that 3500 people have been killed, many more injured and a large number of protestors have been illegally detained by the Syrian police and military.  Some of those detained have claimed to have been victims of torture while in custody.  It is now believed that Syria may be the next domino to fall in the Arab world and the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad will either step down or be removed from power.  However the Syrian government is less likely to fall unless there is some sort of intervention by the international community.  READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY

Yemen: The Forgotten Revolution

Before you read this, ask yourself how much do you know about Yemen? When was the last time you saw it in the news? I ask because it is currently in state of revolution, as another offshoot of the Arab Spring that started in Tunisia. However while Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and, now, Syria, have had the world’s media devote hours of coverage and thousands of column inches to the struggles occurring there, Yemen appears to have been forgotten. Read the rest of this entry

A Failed UNSCR, a Periodic Review and Uncertainty for Syria’s Future

The unrest in Syria, which I discuss in length in a previous article entitled “Violence in Syria,” has once again come to the forefront of UK foreign policy news. Not only did Russia and China recently make the decision to veto a UN resolution calling on Syria to stop hostility against its own people, but yesterday marked the Universal Periodic Review on Syria at the UN Human Rights Council. As the Syrian Government continues to kill, torture or jail mostly anybody wanting reform, the UK continues to take every opportunity to highlight the violence which simply does not seem to be stopping. Foreign Secretary William Hague says Britain will “continue to stand side by side with the Syrian people and redouble efforts to work with international partners to increase pressure on the regime.”

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