By Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi
United Nations (UN) is a creation of American diplomacy and a legalistic approach to dictate world order. It was President Woodrow Wilson that created the League of Nations after the First World War but it could not survive the power struggle between its member states. The idea was rechristened by President FDR after the Second World War with help from allied powers France, Britain, and Russia. These powers protected their interests through a special vehicle UN Security Council (UNSC) where they were granted veto powers to block any resolution that was not in their interest. China was too big to ignore even when it was an underdeveloped country so it was added to the group of five permanent members of UNSC.
In this historic perspective it is ironic that America is the country that by-passes UN when it suits its strategic purpose. Whether it is war in Iraq, drone strikes in Pakistan, sanctions against Iran or no fly zone over Libya, America is increasingly acting alone or beyond the mandate granted to her by UN. These actions are contributing towards the break down of international order that is leading the world towards anarchy. This unilateralism is creating precedence for stronger states to act against their weaker neighbors without fear of retaliation from international community. Russian military action against Georgia to support secession of South Ossetia and Republic of Abkhazia was a result of this approach.
America usually presents humanitarian motives when it engages in these acts of aggression. But even American humanitarianism is selective. When a military coup leaders kill over 2000 civilians in Egypt no action is taken rather the regime is granted with a financial aid through one of the allies in the region. When Israel defies UN resolutions and expand illegal settlements on Palestinian land no action is taken. When India commits human right atrocities in Kashmir, America closes its eyes and looks the other way. Bahraini government’s use of force against political protests does not cause a stir in American sensitivities. But Syrian government’s actions, without any proof presented to the world community, justifies military strike.
To uphold the rule of law and maintain a stable world order it is important that issues should be brought to UN for negotiations and resolutions. Russian President Putin has demanded that America should present evidence in the UN before taking unilateral action against Syria. This is an important first step to prevent expansion of war in the Middle East.
Any strike against Syria will severely test the credibility and resolve of the Russian and Chinese governments. Their failure to protect a key ally in Middle East will send a negative signal around the world. It would undermine their ability to create security pacts with allies in South America, Central Asia, South Asia and South East Asia.
Prolonged Syrian crisis has already severely damaged the reputation and credibility of key American ally Turkey and her charismatic Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey has made a grave error of supporting an armed intervention in the internal affairs of a neighboring country. This could have significant social, economic and security consequences for Turkey. As a NATO member state and second largest contributor of forces to the alliance, a US strike on Syria will make it a legitimate target of retaliation. European and American hesitation to come to the aid of Turkey has the potential to unravel the NATO alliance.
Saudi Arabia has been playing a negative role in the Muslim world for last few decades. First it was the funding and support of extremist Wahhabi movements in the Muslim world. Her armed intervention in Bahrain to suppress a peaceful civilian uprising that demanded political change angered majority of Muslims. She is one of the main opponents of Arab Spring and one of the first countries to come forward to provide financial aid to the military regime in Egypt. Saudi Arabia has been a supporter and financier of military dictators of Pakistan throughout its history. These actions have created an anti-Saudi sentiment in large parts of the Muslim world. Muslims expect Saudi Arabia to unite Muslim ummah but it has acted otherwise
Similar to Saudi Arabia, Iran has been an exporter of her revolution to the other parts of the Muslim world especially Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain. These actions have contributed to the division of Muslim world on sectarian lines. The power struggle between these two key Muslims countries has encouraged others to intervene.
The new government in Pakistan has stated that it wants to improve its ties with all her neighbors and Muslim countries around the world. The Syrian crisis offers an opportunity to Pakistan to bring the Muslim countries together to form a consensus position. Pakistan should request a special session of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to discuss the crisis in Syria and Egypt to move towards a political solution. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be speaking at the UN General Assembly in September. He should include Syria and Egypt in his speech to create an international platform to solve these issues.
Pakistan should propose to Russia and China to convene a meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to discuss crisis in Syria as Eurasian region will be most affected by an armed intervention. First, Central Asian countries rely on export of energy to support their countries. Any disruption in energy supplies could create economic crisis that could lead to social unrest. Secondly, most of the Central Asian countries are Muslim majority countries. Prolonged military operation against a Muslim country could produce extremism and mass protests on the streets which will destabilize the whole region.
Political theorists say war is another means of diplomacy. Syrian crisis seems to be an effort by America to push Russia to the wall. We hope that pragmatism will prevail over my-way-or-highway approach to solving international problems.
The writer is a former President of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce-USA and member advisory committee of Pakistan Tehrike Insaf (PTI). He has authored three books titled Freedom by Choice, Lessons from Quran and Islamic Social Contract. The opinion expressed here are personal and not the official position of PTI.