Friday, July 19, 2024

BNFYL responds to govt call for military action on Syria

Reports that Botswana government has called for an ‘armed march into Damascus’ and the overthrow of the Syrian government is a mockery of the current government’s foreign policy and its duties under international law. At a time when multitudes around the world abhor war and its effects, a conclusion can be reached that only a government equating a military junta such as our government can still crave for the use of force as the only viable way to resolve political disputes. The Syrian conflict is no storm in a tea cup. It is a sophisticated problem that has the potential to render the inter middle east region chaotic if handled recklessly.

There is no doubt that the Syrian conflict presents a headache to serious governments around the world. Allegations of usage of chemical weapons must be treated seriously. If it is established beyond doubt that any particular force employed such weapons against the civilian population, serious consequences must follow. As of now, there is still doubt as to who carried the chemical attacks. The Assad regime, backed by countries like Russia, has disassociated itself from those attacks. On the other hand, the United States and the forces it supports in Syria are pointing an accusing finger at Assad regime. The BNFYL is not privy to the criteria employed by our government as to why it supports the US and its allies and not the Syrian government and Russia. We have not been told as to why our government believes the position propagated by the U.S, given that the U.S has previously wilfully supplied wrong intelligence such as that relating to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The paralysis of relations between leading powerful countries in the Security Council occasioned by the conflict mirrors the gravity of the Syrian problem. Sharp differences on how to resolve the conflict have only served to worsen already deteriorated relations between the United States of America and Russia, vividly reminding the world of the cold war era politics between the west and east. It is therefore embarrassingly simplistic and shallow that our government,, in view of the complexity of the conflict in Syria, is calling for quick fix solutions that advocate for usage of force to overthrow a government of another country.

The position of our government is regrettable on other grounds. A question can be asked as to whether our government will commit national resources in the form of our own military and finances to carry out the military intervention they are calling for, or is our government adopting the position of an armchair critic and calling other countries to send their sons and daughters to carry out evil deeds in Syria? It is without doubt that although our government is supporting a military overthrow of the Syrian government, it hypocritically and cowardly expecting other nations to finance such a war.

Botswana, under the current regime, has become a joke on account of its reckless foreign policy which is informed by the insatiable appetite of our president to extend his populist stunts into the international arena. International relations are serious business that cannot be equated to walkabouts in the poverty stricken streets of Blue Town in Francistown streets or a bicycle ride in Old Naledi. Recent outbursts by the former vice president General Merafhe, calling recent polls in Zimbabwe a circus indicts the dignity of our people as it presents us as a nation of people who talk before they think. Our government therefore is ruining the image of our country in the eyes of the international community.

The use of force, wherever whenever, carries with it loss of innocent lives. Force must only be employed as a means of last resort and must be used sparingly and in accordance with international law. Unilateral use of force to effect regime change and export American style system of government as practiced by the United States of America and its allies throughout the years has brought untold sorrow and anguish to many people around the world. To date, the effects of this evil American policy are still being felt in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. When he was elected, the current president of the United States, Barack Obama, not only condemned his predecessor’s thirst for war, but promised the world that a new America which will promote and uphold international law and do whatever possible to garner the support of the international community whenever force is to be used. Obama is now a turn-coat. His position on the Syrian conflict and the call for military strikes against the government of Syria is a big disappointment to many of his followers who were swayed by his rhetoric whilst on the campaign trail. His failure to depart from Bush’s war mongering policy has proved correct that prophesy by the American Hip Hop artist that ‘ Barack Obama may change the complexion of the white house, but can he change the direction?…’

Polls in the United States of America have shown that the majority of Americans are not in support of President Barack Obama’s plans of military intervention in Syria. In the UK, Prime Minister Cameron was defeated by the House of Commons in his call for a military strikes against the regime of Assad. These statistics show that the use of force to resolve conflicts has no place in the twenty first century society.

The Botswana National Front Youth League therefore calls on our government to exercise maximum restraint and keep its silence on issues that they do not understand. Persistent flows in foreign policy occasioned by our government will only serve to isolate the country and diminish the good standing of our people on the international arena. Pronouncement on foreign issues must be well coordinated and well thought out.

Joram Matomela
Legal Secretary (BNFYL)

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