Matthews: How should Canada respond to the rising violence in Syria?
Senior Deputy Director, Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies
With presidential elections looming in the United States and France, it should be painfully clear to all observers that Western military intervention to protect Syrians from their government is not on the table, regardless of China and Russia’s recent double veto at the UN Security Council. Unlike Libya, Syria represents a hornet’s nest that no country wants to contemplate engaging in due to fear of being bogged down in a sectarian quagmire. That being said, Canada can take small measures to help alleviate human suffering and try to push for a political solution to the crisis. First Canada should ramp up the delivery of humanitarian aid to the region. Second, Canada should begin working with Turkey and other NATO members to consider establishing humanitarian safe havens along the Syrian border. Third, Canada should fully support Kofi Annan in his new role as mediator for the UN and the Arab League. Fourth, Canada might actually want to remind Syria of its “Responsibility to Protect”, thereby strengthening an emerging norm that is in line with conservative values. Lastly, Canada might want to inform one particular strong supporter of Assad that investing in Canada’s energy markets would be looked upon much more favorably if you stopped protecting a government that is openly killing its own people.