Security Bulletin

GCN Security Brief: Syria’s Struggles and more

Syria’s struggles threaten international peace

President Putin on August 19 visit to Crimea.
President Putin on August 19 visit to Crimea.

The civil war raging in Syria is a nightmare. It is a crisis that has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands, created a mass exodus from the region, and has rocked the foundations of the already fragile security environment in the region. This week it degenerated into a fuse for a potential war between the U.S. and Russia. Before we go any further, here is a little primer on this conflict.

A few weeks ago, I asked the questions, ‘Can the UN address today’s security challenges?’. The first reason why I said it couldn’t was because of the Veto power that is available to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – US, UK, Russia, France and China. Five nations, who at the time were considered significant powers, that agree on almost nothing together. This week they proved it again at the Security Council meeting in New York.

Not one but two resolutions on bringing relief to war-torn Syria were vetoed. The first was presented by France which would bring a halt to air-strikes (largely being executed by the Russians to support their ally Syria). This was immediately vetoed by the Russians, who came up with a resolution that emphasized a cease-fire. This also failed to garner enough votes to pass. This was the fifth time Russia has used a veto power on resolutions relating to Syria.

International relationships have deteriorated between the Russians and the U.S. following a failed ceasefire a few weeks ago which ended in both sides accusing the other of violations (which both were).

This week the Russians warned the U.S. that attacks on Syrian forces will be considered an attack on Russian troops and would heighten the conflict. The presence of theS-300 and S-400 missile systems by the Russians is troubling. The Russian troops manning these systems may not have enough time to correctly identify US “invisible” jets and could lead to disastrous consequences.

More significantly, early this week, President Putin issued a presidential decree on the agreement between the US and Russia on disposition of Plutonium. This was an agreement signed between the two nations that they would get rid of their plutonium so that they couldn’t be used in bombs. This makes the use of nuclear weapons a real possibility.

The stalemate in Syria continues, but its repercussions continue to pour over into the rest of the world. If you remained untouched by the horrific stories that migrants fleeing the region are facing, maybe you will now pay attention to the hostile environment that could bring the world to Cold War level panic. What happens in Syria certainly does not stay in Syria.

War and peace in Colombia

Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last week for his efforts to bring about a peace treaty with FARC rebels after a 52- year conflict that ravaged the country. Unfortunately, his efforts were undone last week (after voting for the Nobel Prize was closed) by his own people. They shot down a referendum which would approve the peace treaty. The major reason for people voting ‘no’ was that it allowed FARC rebels to escape without punishment for the atrocities they have committed. President Santos vowed to continue his efforts to bring about lasting peace in the South American nation. His start was by donating his winnings from the peace prize to reconstruction efforts.

Other Vital Stories:

  • We recommend this article which presents a detailed assessment of the intractable conflict that continues in Kashmir. We will cover Kashmir in Next week’s brief.
  • Emerging data suggests that the so called Islamic State has lost more than a quarter of its territory. This analysis visually represents the areas that are still controlled by IS and which have been lost.