Sedra: How should Canada respond to the rising violence in Syria?

By: /
27 February, 2012
By: Paul Sedra
Associate Professor of Middle East History, Simon Fraser University

That Canada chose not to withdraw its ambassador to Syria as the American and British governments were withdrawing theirs simply underscores Canada’s irrelevance in the Arab world – an irrelevance exacerbated by the Harper government’s wholesale abandonment of an ‘honest broker’ role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One would think that state killing on the scale of that currently underway in Syria would warrant, at the least, Canadian repudiation in the form of severing diplomatic relations. Just as the government was miserably slow in siding with the protesters in Tahrir Square against the Mubarak regime last year, Ottawa seems once again lost as to how to support democracy in the Middle East. The answer is not military intervention, nor the funding of ‘democracy-promoting’ NGOs with barely concealed partisan agendas and no local credibility. The answer, rather, is to rediscover the Canadian moral compass – to endorse indigenous forces for democracy, and refuse all contact with the criminal Asad regime.

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