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UN Chief Admits Shameful Divisions and Failure Over Syria

© AP Photo / Gary CameronUnited Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon - Sputnik International
The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said the "slaughter" in Syria is a "shameful symbol of the international community’s divisions and failure" amid signs that the international organization has lost its sense of purpose.

As twelve million Syrians have been forced to leave their homes – adding to the millions forced to move out of other conflict areas across the Middle East and Africa – Mr Ban said: "Syria is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis." 

He admitted that there was "a massive cross-border exodus, [as] Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq are hosting an ever growing number of refugees, and increasing numbers of Syrians making desperate flights across the Mediterranean in so-called 'death boats'."

Mr Ban told the UN Security Council (UNSC) that he was "profoundly disappointed" that previous resolutions aimed at preventing further violence in Syria had not been implemented.

His comments are a sign of growing frustration that the original aims – propounded in its charter – are not being achieved in the current global geopolitical scene. It was originally set up as an international body to "take action on the issues confronting humanity in the 21st century."

However, the crisis in the Middle East and North Africa – involving the Taliban, al-Qaeda, ISIL and Boko Haram – has left the United Nations appearing impotent as an arbiter of global events.

United Nations or US-Led Campaigns?

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 caused President George W. Bush to launch his so-called 'War on Terror'. Shortly after the attacks, he declared: "Our war on terror begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon - Sputnik International
Working Groups on Syria to Begin Operations in September

There was international controversy when the US led the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 in an effort to overthrow the Taliban and capture Osama bin Laden. The rest is history.

There followed the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 when UK Prime Minister Tony Blair sided with Bush’s view that the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that could be used against British targets. 

The United Nations was divided over the original invasion and there remains considerable debate over the legitimacy of the operation. Many felt that ‘regime change’ was not a good enough reason to topple Saddam Hussein. The Iraq war ended with a dictator toppled, the domestic armed forces in disarray and a country in turmoil.

Years later, when the Syrian civil war began, there were nationwide protests against President al-Assad‘s government, which led to violent crackdowns on the heartlands of the Free Syrian Army.

Once again, the US called for air strikes on al-Assad’s military machine, but was stopped by public opinion and a warning from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said, in an opinion piece in the New York Times: "The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders. Putin wrote:

"A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance."

His view was prescient, given the spread of the Arab Spring, the rise of ISIL and the upsurge of Boko Haram in Africa.

Mr Ban’s current dilemma is that the appointment of yet another Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, "to intensify efforts…to find a political settlement to the conflict [in Syria]," will be met with derision, if he cannot prove that the United Nations is capable of standing up to its original aims. 

Many of these aims appear to have fallen by the wayside in recent conflicts, which have left the Middle East and North Africa in turmoil. 

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