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Diplomacy Saves The Day: For Both Syria And The US

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By Mamta:

The war clouds hovering over Syria since the last few weeks seem to have scattered as Syria has agreed to surrender its chemical weapons. On September 9, Secretary of State John Kerry made a casual suggestion that Syria should hand over its chemical weapons within a week. Russia was quick to respond and propose the same to Syria, to put its chemical weapons under international inspection. Syria readily agreed to it paving the way for a diplomatic solution of the problem. After these developments, the US Senate delayed voting on the issue of attacking Syria which was earlier scheduled for September 11.


A day after these developments, President Obama declared to “post-pone” the Congressional vote authorizing military strike. Meanwhile, various countries including India and China supported the Russian proposal. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, “The Russian side is currently busy preparing a clear-cut, workable plan for placing Syrian chemical weapons under international control”.

In a statement on Russian state television, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al Moallem said Syria was ready to co-operate fully with a Russian proposal to put its chemical weapons under international control and would stop producing them. Now, Syria has expressed its willingness to abide by Chemical Weapons Convention.

Though Obama has put a pause button on a military strike on Syria, he didn’t miss a chance, in his televised address, to portray the Assad regime as a threat to American security, even as fast-moving diplomatic developments offered the prospect that military action could be averted. It raises a point that in the guise of moral responsibility, America keeps showing its attitude of world domination.

Anti-war sentiment is already growing in public. A poll conducted by Reuters and AP has revealed that 63 per cent of Americans oppose intervention in Syria. Similarly, people in Britain and France are also opposing military intervention in Syria. US, in the name of saving humanity, and also its own security has already carried out many wars. Around 10 years ago America attacked and occupied Iraq alleging that there were weapons of mass destruction in its possession which could prove to be a threat to world. Later, no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq.

On the one hand America has started talks to reach a diplomatic solution on the Syrian issue and on the other American Security Agency CIA has increased its assistance to rebels. According to a Washington Post report, after months of promises to provide aid to Syrian rebels in an ‘official’ manner, Washington has finally sanctioned open delivery of arms and ammunitions to anti-Assad forces – despite fears that some of the weapons could end up in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists which comprise the major chunk of rebels. And there are reports from Turkey that Syrian rebels aligned with Jabhat Al Nusra were found possessing 2 kilograms of Sarin gas. They might have got hold of some chemical weapons while over-running Assad’s weapon depots and bases. Reports are also there that Saudi Arabia had supplied the rebels with chemical weapons. In the present situation, it is wise for the Assad regime to surrender its chemical weapons to the International community to avoid any pretext of being attacked by US and its allies.

In an interview with Russia Today, Ray McGovern, a veteran CIA analyst said that the intelligence gathered against Syria’s Assad was manufactured by elements within the spy community in order to mislead the US President to take punitive action. McGovern is among the signatories to the letter from veteran intelligence professionals to Obama, saying that Assad is not responsible for the chemical attack. He also said, “The reason that they don’t adduce the evidence is because it wouldn’t stand up not only in the court of law, it wouldn’t bear close scrutiny. We’ve been down this road before. It happened before in Iraq.

The Russian proposal not only saved Syria from war but it has also been a face saver for President Obama as majority of people would have disapproved of military action. Earlier, he was refusing to address the issue in the UN Security Council but now he has agreed to it.

Amidst all this, a UN probe has revealed that at least eight massacres have been perpetrated in Syria by the Assad regime and its supporters and one by rebels over the past year and a half. Both sides were responsible for war crimes. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay said that military action against Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons last month would only worsen the prospects for peace in Syria.

Though talks are going on about the chemical weapons issue, Obama is constantly building up pressure on the Syrian government. He also said that any agreement to remove Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile “needs to be verifiable and enforceable.” But on the other hand, President Assad refuted America’s claim that Syria has agreed to the Russian initiative to avoid military strike and called it an “American propaganda”. In a television interview to a Russian news channel, he said that they were ready to give up chemical weapons if America stopped threatening them and supplying weapons to the rebels.

With Russia and the United States reaching an agreement on the “framework” for placing the chemical weapons of Syria under international control and finally for their destruction within the “first half of 2014”, and Syria formally joining the Chemical Weapons Convention, Russian diplomatic efforts and people’s anger against American military intervention in Syria have won the day. Now United States and its allies may try to exploit the non-compliance of Syria on chemical weapons to go for a military strike. Therefore, diplomacy must prevail to tighten all loose ends in the initiative to eliminate all WMDs in the Middle East including those of Israel. But for now, diplomacy has won peace in Syria.

You must be to comment.
  1. Aditi Thakker

    Thankfully the conflict is taking a diplomatic turn. American Intervention would have created just another Iraq.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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