The amount of humanitarian aid to Syria that all nations combined have pledged for 2013 – 0. Nothing. 2 million are displaced within Syria, 1 million are refugees in neighboring countries seeking greater aid and hundreds of thousands are on the border of malnutrition. Hundreds of thousands, forced to leave their homes with what they could carry on their back, have little more to brave the Syrian winter than torn t-shirts and pajamas. Tens of thousands of children, left orphaned by the conflict, are forced to fend for themselves. And still, no aid.
Instead, money from international donors is going towards arming either side of the military conflict. Foreign money is going to the distinct minority of Syrians polarized on either side of the conflict rather than the vast majority somewhere in the middle just looking for a refuge from the terror.
What’s more, Walid Muallem, Syria’s foreign minister, recently provided a reasonable compromise to end the terror that the rebels have refused. Muallem declared that the regime would engage in diplomacy with rebel groups. Muallem said that rebels would be allowed to participate in a new parliament, form a new cabinet for al-Assad, and collaborate in forming a new Constitution for the Syrian people on three reasonable conditions: they set down their arms, accept al-Assad as president, and oppose foreign arms intervention. Yet, the rebels are unwilling to compromise. Since the beginning of the fighting, they have held the single-minded objective that Bashar al-Assad must step down.
Western nations are enabling the rebels through their arms shipments. The United States and other Western powers are imposing their own hypocritical value systems on Syria. Western nations hold a democratic Syria as paramount, but what really defines democracy? Is democracy a system of freedoms and individual rights that Western nations have deemed a one-size fits all solution? Or is democracy taking into account the needs that the average person on the street has and working to implement them. The Syrian Arab Spring in the mind of Syrians was never a question of democracy- it was a question of raising their standard of living, their safety, and their security. The fighting has now, in fact, compromised those values that they had initially set out to achieve. Thus, the rebels, by not striving to impose those values through diplomacy with the regime, are not truly representative of Syrians.
Clearly, it is necessary for the United States and other Western nations intervening in Syria to change the focus of their intervention. Instead of aid through arming the rebels, who are not truly representative of the Syrian people, the West should focus on humanitarian aid. The true crisis in Syria, after all, is not the battle between two equally barbarous forces (the rebels and al-Assad) but the human crisis.