Writing in the Evening Standard on 3 June 2013, UNA-UK's Chairman, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, has called on the international community to 'think big' on Syria and to support the US-Russian proposal for the peace conference.
In his article, Sir Jeremy draws parallels between Syria and Iraq, both of which have had divisive histories and strong religious, tribal and ethnic differences internally. He points to Assad's involvement with the Iraqi opposition and the role that Iraqi-based groups have been playing in supporting organisations such as Jabhat-an-Nusra in Syria. He also underscores an important lesson from the US-UK experience in Iraq, namely that the "military invasion in 2003 was straightforward by comparison with running the shop thereafter, which was mismanaged".
While conceding that the idea of a conference might look like "whistling in a gale", he asserts that "feeding the conflict" will get us nowhere either. (UNA-UK has previously written to the UK government along these lines.)
Instead, he calls on the international community to use "the tougher instruments of diplomacy" as was done, eventually, in the Balkans. A conference structure with adequate resources and political commitment provides the foundation for:
- Addressing future arrangements for a state with a variety of different and troubled minorities
- A mechanism for bringing together the various outside stakeholders who can affect the outcome
- A clearing house for much better organised and supported humanitarian efforts
Sir Jeremy ends by calling for a new basis of security and economic co-operation in the region, "of the kind that lifted Europe after two world wars".