Rawlings canvasses political solution to Syria conflict

BY: Isaac Yeboah

Ghana’s former President, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings has at a conference of former Heads of State in Bahrain called on Israel to restrain itself in its involvement in the conflict in Syria. President Rawlings also called on the rest of the international community to reinvigorate the option of political solution of the Syria conflict and condemn Israel’s recent air raids on Syria.

The former President was making an intervention during the 31st meeting of the Inter Action Council held in Manama, Bahrain from May 9 to 11.

The Inter Action Council is an independent organisation of former heads of state, which aims at fostering international cooperation and action in three priority areas of peace and security, world economic revitalisation and universal ethical standards.

The conference which was held under the auspices of First Deputy Prime Minister of Bahrain and Crown Prince, Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa brought together eighteen former heads of state from across the globe including three from Africa.

Former President Rawlings said he was disappointed that only China and Russia had reproached Israel over her unilateral actions in Syria and called on the United States to take a stronger view of the situation in the Middle East and seek equity for all parties.

“The dynamics are such that the time has come to reinvigorate a political solution and the United States should seize the high moral ground if she wants to be a global policeman especially in the Israeli – Palestinian issue.

“Today we live with the injustice in the Middle East as if it were the natural course of life. America needs help on the Israel - Palestinian issue. If we do not right the injustice the injustice perpetuates itself,” President Rawlings said.

The conference discussed among other issues, the Present State of the World, The Water Energy Nexus, Bridging the Religious Divide and Nuclear Non-Proliferation.

Experts who contributed to the topics included Yikiya Amano, Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Nobuyasu Abe, Director of the Center for the Promotion of Disarmament and non-proliferation at the Japan Institute for International Affairs, Rabi Mohtar, Executive Director of Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute and Rebecca Johnson, Executive Director of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament.

A communiqué issued at the end of the meeting called on states to adhere to international law as provided for in the United Nations Charter, UN resolutions, treaties and conventions and rules emanating from international courts.

The communiqué also expressed deep concern about the Israeli air strikes in Syria and called on all concerned sides to exercise maximum calm and restraint with a sense of responsibility to avoid an escalation of the conflict.

Russia and United States were encouraged in their efforts to convene an international conference aimed at ending the civil war in Syria while a call went to Iran to fully implement its Safeguards agreement and its other obligations and to engage with the IAEA to achieve concrete results on all outstanding issues.

Former world leaders who attended the conference included Jean Chretien, former Prime Minister of Canada, Andreas van Agt, former Prime Minister of The Netherlands, Bertie Ahern, former Prime Minister of Ireland, James Bolger, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Franz Vranisky, former Chancellor of Austria, Benjamin Mkapa, former President of Tanzania, Oscar Arias former President of Costa Rica, Andreas Pastrana, former President of Colombia and Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, former Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Others are, Yasuo Fukuda, former Prime Minister of Japan, Abdel Salam Majali, former Prime Minister of Jordan, James Mitchell, former Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Olusegun Obasanjo former President of Nigeria , Constantinos Simitis, former Prime Minister of Greece, George Vassiliou, for President of Cyprus and Vaira Vike-Freiberga, former President of Latvia.