President Donald Trump communicated recently with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, about the support for “safe zones” in two of the many war-ridden countries in the politically designated Middle East, particularly Yemen and Syria. In response, the Syrian government expressed that the creation of a safe zone without its consent is unsafe.
According to the United Nations, over 11 million people have been displaced from their homes, with 6.6 million internally or domestically displaced and 4.8 million fleeing as refugees to Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan! The Syrian civil war begain in March of 2011, and it looks like there is no conclusion approaching this volatile and violent war.
The proposed governmental policy of the creation of “safe zones” may intentionally be magnanimous and generous, but history has proven the miscalculation and deleteriousness of these creations. Safe-zones could enhance the vulnerability and casualties of civilians due to their concentration within an area of a war-torn geographical location. For example, in 1993 the United Nations Security Council created six “safe zones” for Bosnian Muslims in order to fortify them from the terror that was inflicted upon them by Serbs. Additionally, they designated the entire town of Srebrenica as a “demilitarized safe zone,” but, unfortunately, the Serbs attacked the town and assassinated 8,000 Bosnians. Additionally, many Bosnian women were raped, assaulted and tortured.
Another example is Rwanda, where the French attempted to create safe zones in order to protect the Tutsis who were victimized by Hutus. These safe zones eventually became unsafe; there are an estimated 800,000 casualties of the Rwandan conflict. In addition, the United States designated a no-fly zone in Kurdistan (Northern Iraq) to protect the Kurds, but this was also ineffective and miscalculated, as Saddam Hussein still managed to decimate thousands of Iraqi Kurds prior to, and during, the Persian Gulf War.
Concomitantly, the “safe zone” proposal and implementation was disastrous even in the country of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka was another war-torn country, due to the bellicose political rivalry between the indigenous Sinhalese population and their government, and the Tamil minority and their separatist movement. Their civil war was from 1983-2009. The United Nations created a safe zone between January and April of 2009, but all this did was enhance the vulnerability of the civilians and up to 6,500 people were killed and at least 14,000 injured!
In conclusion, history has corroborated that in war-torn countries, safe zones are ineffective, miscalculated and even detrimental to the livelihood of innocent civilians. Like most governmental policies, the goodness of a government’s or intergovernmental organization’s intention doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be effective, and history has proven the ineffectiveness of safe zones. What the Trump Administration, the royalty of Saudi Arabia, the Syrian government and the various governments of the Arab world need to do is meticulously study political history. In the words of Santayana, “those who do not learn their history are doomed to repeat it!”
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