By Imdad Hussain
At the dawn of the New Year, the fresh case of Syria proved that the world order led by a superpower is drastically failing as a stabilising factor; with the volatile Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan being further instances of busted peace.
Failure of the unipolarism in Syria was established with its recognition being evident in the US-led action against Iraq in 1991, when the US-led forces alone reversed the capturing of Kuwait. After the recapturing of the strategically important city of Aleppo in Syria at the end of 2016, Russia, Iran and Turkey launched efforts for countrywide ceasefire between the government and opposition forces that were successful to quite a large extent. The US was excluded in this third attempt of brokering peace. Russia has intervened in support of its ally, the Syrian president.
Since 2011, at the beginning of civil war in Syria as a result of the Arab Spring, the US began supporting Syrian rebel commanders and later, Washington and its allies demanded that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go as part of any settlement of Syria’s bloody civil war. The US allegedly wanted a regime change as President Assad is not amicable to Washington’s policies in the region. With the recent long siege of Aleppo, the world witnessed massive killings and injuries as a result of warplane bombardment, explosions, shellings, shootings, chemical and toxic gas attacks. Majority of the victims were ordinary citizens including children and women. Besides, the attacks left the imperative business hub destructed.
Syria is one of the worst examples of human sufferings being prolonged due to the clashes surrounding the world and regional powers. The US and Russia are at loggerheads over the Syrian issue, where according to available data, over four hundred thousand people were killed between 2011 and 2016 and more than that number were left homeless. The number of injuries is obviously much higher. Countless people were despondently made handicapped and as reports suggest, a large number of women raped. A true warfare — these are the damages more brutal than any of the extremist organisations in Syria could have ever inflicted.
The experiments of regime changes have already failed in Iraq and Libya — if the purpose for these changes was stability. Increased instability, extremism, clashes, civil war, killings, attacks, blasts, sectarianism prevailed in Iraq post Saddam Hussein and in Libya after Muammar Gaddafi — both were attacked and executed by US-led forces.
Afghanistan is another example where the US-led Nato forces launched the war on terror after a resolution was passed in the UN following 9/11. The country could not be stabilised until now and groups of militants are on the rise. The Daesh is an additional group that is emerging stronger as a greater threat to the region. The resulting bashing games amongst international players did nothing much, except for observing the augmentation of human sufferings in the country and region.
The prevailing situation around the world, especially in the regions such as Central Asia, Middle East and South Asia have posed questions to the world community as whether the US-led system is really leading to more stabilisation in the world? Questions arise as to whether the weaker nations are more protected as compared to in the past? And also, whether innocent civilians would continue to bear the brunt of the clash of interests among the major powers?
The world mechanism has been witnessing changes for long and every shift has caused conflict in history including world wars. A century or two before the advent of the 20th century, the world mechanism was run by various imperial powers including Britain and France causing conflicts in parts of the world. The emergence of new powers like Germany and Japan in the 20th century challenged the status quo that resulted in the World Wars.
The wars weakened colonial powers and eventually caused emergence of the two big powers — the US and former USSR establishing international relations based on ideologies. That shifted the world order to two-block system with new division and conflicts that continued till the 1980s. After 1990 the world entered into a super-power system led by the US, which announced another new global agenda known as the New World Order.
Presently, the superpower is being challenged in terms of trade, influence, military, technology and others by China and Russia. The year 2017 would witness a new shift in world order where powers other than the US would seek space at the global level that could cause new conflicts if dealt with old thinking. The world order is not only being disturbed in terms of security but also politically and economically. The Brexit episode, the emergence of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (sometime referred to as a response to Nato expansionism), and international agreements pertaining to swap in local currencies among China-Russia, BRICS and other countries are few examples.
With the Chinese expanding influence in the region, the Russian urge to reclaim its influence over Eastern Europe and peripheries and the Indian desires in the region and the US responses like the Pivot to Asia and reservations over arms race, both in terms of nukes and arm competition in outer space — are all predictable.
The best way to deal with the global changes is to realise multi-polarism based on the principles of cooperation, democracy and respect for humanity. While the military role has to be decreased, it must be coupled with arms control regimes and equal treatments of all states, weaker or stronger to avoid tragedies to humans and civilisations. While the role of the UN — established for avoiding conflicts and human miseries after World War II, has to be increased after reformations like empowering the General Assembly to base the world system on democracy and not power. All old institutions of the Cold-War era have to be reformed and their role must be redefined.
Positive responses towards Russia by US President-elect Donald Trump is a good omen and let’s hope for mature decisions for global governance in light of the changes in the world’s scene.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 3rd, 2017.