Syria must not become another exception to international law

December 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

As the world witnesses the 21st month of continuous civil war in Syria the words ‘foreign intervention’ are becoming more common. During the last week the Bashar regime has fired scud missiles at rebel targets in the north. Whilst reports still need corroboration, it appears rockets from Damascus were aimed at captured recently rebel supplies and ammunition holds.

Chemical warfare
International law prohibits the use of chemical weapons under the Geneva Protocol. Throughout the 20th century this law was bolstered by a series of augmentations which went as far as to mandatecountries to destroy their stockpiles of weapons.

For the last week the reports from sources in Syria suggest that the Bashar regime is preparing sarin gas, a deadly nerve gas, for use against the rebels. Since the preparation and storage of such chemical weapons is prohibited the world has a duty to react.

White House Press Secretary Joe Carney told reporters “if true, this would be the last desperate act from a regime that has shown utter disregard for innocent life, utter disregard for the lives of its own citizens”. Whilst a spokesperson for the US State Department said “as the regime becomes more and more desperate, we see it resorting to increased lethality and more vicious weapons,”. As yet, there has been no clear guidelines on what would occur if the Bashar regime were to drop nerve gas on its own citizens.

Whilst the US is weary of making any clear threats, NATO has provided Turkey with Patriot Missiles. Turkey, already a key actor, is now especially important. With Patriot Missiles in Turkey a de-facto no fly zone exists over the north of Syria, this will give rebels room to establish some level of political infrastructure.

If reports of chemical weapons are a last ditch attempt from a dying regime all the better. However, the US and Europe must not forget the duty they have to uphold international law.

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