Stop the killing

Monday, 17. June 2013

Stop the killing

Peter RiddellWhat is developing in the Middle East is terrifying. For the global and regional superpowers to be pouring fuel on the fire in Syria is madness. If this continues, there will be no way to contain the conflict. Already the humanitarian crisis is out of control.

The area is tinder-dry with frustration. On a visit to Palestine recently, a leader of the Fatah youth wing told me that the whole situation was blocked and that the only hope for them was a 'game-changing' event. Those are words of desperation.

I have been calling a close friend in Damascus, a senior academic, most weeks since the conflict began. I could hear the shells and gun-fire in the background when I phoned a week ago. His appeal since the beginning of the conflict has been 'Stop the killing!' The more killing takes place, the more hatred is sown, and the more difficult it will be to rebuild. In an email he laid out the process that he believes ought to take place: ‘an enforced stop of the bloodshed, a timetable for a transitional period supervised by the UN, a new constitution and then a new election for both the President and Legislative council.’

The key is the relationships among the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council. They have a responsibility to the whole world to rise above their individual interests and take steps to mediate in conflicts, not exacerbate them. The victims of those broken relationships are and will be the ordinary people.

When relationships in the highest council in the world are blocked, which nation or individual will play the role of mediator?

Peter Riddell is Convenor of Agenda for Reconciliation, a programme of IofC-UK, and Secretary of British-Arab Exchanges (

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