Last update: 05-Dec-2013 8:03 am
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Gopee-Scoon: Syrian conflict can impact on Caribbean
Former Foreign Affairs Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon says the worsening Syrian crisis can impact negatively on members of the local Syrian and Lebanese community. But Andy Knight, director of the Institute of International Relations at UWI, St Augustine campus believes the repercussions would be minimal to this country. Gopee-Scoon, the Member of Parliament for Point Fortin and Knight views were sought in the face of military action being contemplated by the United States led coalition.
Asked about the ramifications of an escalation in the situation, Knight said he thought several countries in the Middle East could be engulfed by the crisis but that here in the Caribbean, repercussions would be minimal.
“I doubt very much that it will spill over outside the region. So the repercussions for us here in the Caribbean will be minimal. At this point it would seem that the conflict is unlikely to affect oil prices significantly. It is very unlikely that people in Trinidad and Tobago will feel the pinch at the gas pumps. But other countries in the Caribbean region that are not as fortunate as T&T to have reserves of oil and gas, might feel the pinch.”
Gopee-Scoon, speaking to the local impact of the conflict for T&T, placed an emphasis on the social impact saying “members of our Syrian and Lebanese community are affected by this and are concerned for the safety and well-being of their families.”
The case of military intervention
Knight, a scholar and author of several books on international politics, gave unequivocal backing to military action, calling for the US and a coalition of states to “take action to demonstrate that state leaders cannot commit such horrible crimes against their own people with impunity.”
He also said the T&T government should support US action against Syria as military intervention would “strengthen the United Nations’ Responsibility to Protect norm (R2P) and remind state leaders that they cannot kill and maim their own people and get away with it.” Gopee-Scoon, however, was more reserved in her view, saying, “The PNM has always had a policy of non-interference in the affairs of other states. However, our foreign policy is predicated on the peaceful interaction of the state and its people.”
She said the PNM strongly condemned and abhorred violence in any form and continued to “promote effective governance at all levels, locally and internationally.”
Arima Mayor outraged
Earlier this week, Arima Mayor Ghassan Youseph told the T&T Guardian it was time for the world to deal with tyrants. Knight said the situation in Syria was “fuelling a dangerous situation in the Middle East”, a region he described as “already on the brink of exploding” because of developments in the post-Arab Spring states and ongoing problems with the peace process between Israel and Palestine.
“The conflict is producing hundreds of thousands of refugees, placing a major economic and social burden on surrounding countries, especially in Turkey,” said Knight adding that the most worrisome aspect of the conflict was the reported use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.
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