Panellists seek Bosnia-like action in Syria

May 22, 2012 - 1:10:15 am


From left: Wendy Chamberlin, Dr Fouad Ajami,  Richard Burge, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, Dr Khalid Abdullah Janahi and Dr Teuta Arifi, during a session on Politics at the second day of Doha Forum on Enriching the Middle East’s Economic Future Conference at the Doha Sheraton Hotel yesterday. 

(Salim Matramkot)

DOHA: There was a heated debate at a key session of the ongoing Doha Forum here yesterday over whether foreign intervention was needed in Syria with some speakers as well as members of the audience backing the call for action against Damascus.

“The Arab Spring is put to litmus test in Syria … International community must play its part,” said Dr Fouad Ajami, Professor, Hoover’s Institute, Stanford University, USA.

A staunch backer of foreign intervention in Syria, Ajami said the US under Bill Clinton launched rescue operations in the Balkans in the 1990s without consulting the United Nations.

The time has come for similar action in Syria, he suggested. “No foreign intervention in Syria is possible without the US.”

He suggested in a lighter vein that instead of raising the issue of intervention with Russia (the US Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton should consult her husband and use the Kosovo model on Syria without an overwhelming role for the US (in Syria). “Full scale intervention is not required in Syria.”

A Bosnian sitting in the audience, however, reminded Ajami during the question-answer session later that it was not before an estimated 200,000 innocent lives were lost that the US eventually intervened in Bosnia.

The tragedy of the Balkans was that the international community came in very late, said the Bosnian.

The panel discussion was titled “Political Changes and Civil Rights in the Middle East’ and its moderator was Wendy Chamberlin, former US ambassador to Pakistan and presently head of Washington-based Middle East Institute.

Dr Teuta Arifi, deputy premier of Macedonia for European Affairs, Richard Burge, Chief Executive of Wilton Park, UK, and Baroness Scotland of Asthal, former attorney-general of the UK, and Dr Khalid Janahi, Group CEO, Dar Al Maal Al Islami, Switzerland, were the panellists along with Ajami.

Ajami said that those opposed to action against the Syrian regime should visit one of the make-shift refugee camps where displaced Syrians are spending time having lost their near and dear ones in the ongoing violence.

The Peninsula