Irish response to Syrian conflict
Sir , – As more shocking images of scores of dead and bereaved children in Syria fill our newspapers (August 22nd) it is surely relevant to highlight Irish policy on Syria.
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore faced strong questioning on his policy on Syria from Maureen O Sullivan TD, Brendan Smith TD and Senator Michael Mullins at the last Oireachtas Joint Foreign Affairs committee prior to the summer recess, July 17th, but this important meeting was not covered by the media.
Senator Michael Mullins questioned the Tánaiste on his claim that any military solution to the Syrian conflict was to be avoided as it would result in an escalation of the killing: “It was roughly this time last year when we spoke about the potential peace process in Syria . . . I asked the Tánaiste whether there was a plan B and referred to the possibility of military intervention. The Tánaiste replied at the time that military intervention would lead to an escalation of militarisation and thereby make the situation worse and that our national position is that if we put more arms into the situation, we will increase militarisation and move away from trying to find a political solution and the number of casualties will increase. At that time, approximately 19,000 people had been killed. Today, that figure is close to 100,000. Does the Tánaiste have a different view today?”
The Tánaiste, however, still appeared to hold the same view as a year ago. His view on what is best for Syrians is at a far remove from that of Yassin al Haj Saleh, the highly respected Syrian writer and winner of the Prince Claus award, who is currently internally displaced in one of the regions under attack in Syria. In a recent urgent appeal to leaders of public opinion in the west: “Help Syria now. Tomorrow it may be too late,” he explained their desperate plight: “People fight here with absolute defiance because they realise that a big massacre awaits them if the regime succeeds in regaining control over the area. Those who are not killed immediately will be arrested and tortured savagely. The options of the people are to either die resisting the aggression of a fascist regime or to be killed by this same regime in the worst way possible. People shudder with fear, and I myself shudder, at the thought that this regime might rule us again”. It is high time that such urgent cries for help were heard here. – Yours, etc,