The Vast Dilema Of Assad’s COP28 Invite
The United Arab Emirates is hosting the next global climate change conference, COP28, and has controversially invited Syrian dictator-president Bashar al-Assad. This move has been denounced by many Western leaders, given the horror of the Syrian civil war driven by Assad and his deplorable war crimes against his own civilians. But, some within the climate action community see this as an opportunity to strengthen global cohesion to fight climate change. So, why did the UAE invite Assad? Can Assad’s presence really enhance COP28? Or is something else going on?
Let’s start with who Assad is and why the West is shocked at his invitation to COP28. Bashar al-Assad took the presidency of Syria from his Father, Hafez al-Assad, in 2000 after his death. So, Bashar is a full-blown nepotist dictator. In Mach 2011, the Syrian civil war broke out. After years of horrific droughts, a dramatically declining economy, limited water supplies, massive levels of unemployment, widespread corruption and basically no political freedom, the people of Syria were fed up. The civil war started as protests, then devolved into full-on war against Syria’s military as Assad tried to crack down.
Syria rebels got funding and backing and were able to take a vast amount of land from Assad. Then Assad struck back hard. He launched massive air strikes and chemical attacks, basically indiscriminately. The use of these chemical weapons is a war crime, and what’s more, these attacks didn’t target the rebels, and a huge number of innocent civilians, including children, were killed, maimed and put through horrific levels of pain. But it doesn’t end there. The UN found “widespread and systematic human rights violations by Syrian security and military forces,” these include murder, enforced disappearances, torture and deprivation of liberty. This war hasn’t ended, either. Assad is still the Syrian president and retains power over 70% of Syria by area, while the Syrian Coalition (a coalition of the Syrian rebel factions) holds the rest. So far, more than 300,000 innocent civilians have been killed, and millions more have been displaced.
The West couldn’t stand idly by and let Assad’s brutal regime continue without…