Nature of ties between South Africa and Syria2
South Africa and the Wider Middle East Region2
Support the Actions of the Arab League of Nations5
Analysis of Options5
Support the Actions of the Arab League of Nations6
The wave of Arab unrest that began during the Tunisian Revolution reached Syria in Mid March 2011. Currently, the political, socio-economic and humanitarian situation in Syria has escalated to the "verge of civil war". Thousands of soldiers have defected and launched attacks against the Syrian government with President Bashar al-Assad responding with extreme degrees of violence. It has been estimated that more than 5 400 Syrians have been killed since the protests have begun, thousands are missing, 25 000 refugees have fled into neighboring countries and 70 000 Syrians have been internally displaced. The United Nations have described the events as "gross human rights violations" and as the situation continues to deteriorate, international powers can no longer remain inactive.
Nature of ties between South Africa and Syria
South Africa's relations with Syria have never been of primary importance; however foreign diplomatic relations between the two states have existed since 1994. Prior to this, Syria supported South Africa's struggle for freedom. However, the trading of lethal weapons with Syria did place emphasis on the relations as it created numerous jobs within South Africa and became a valuable source of Foreign Exchange. After former President Kathlego Mothlanthle's visit to Syria in 2010, his cabinet minister, Masebe reported that "South Africa and Syria will explore cooperation in the areas of education, information and communication technology, science and technology, agriculture and forestry, financial services and construction". Since 2010, South Africa has invested in Syria's business sector.
South Africa and the Wider Middle East Region
Since 1994, South African government officials have had prominent roles in a number of regional and world organizations such as the Non-Aligned Movement and Iran’s Nuclear Development Project. The South African government has also been active in the Middle East market in technological ventures and arms deals. In 2007, Sasol Synfuels International built the world's first commercial plant that converts natural gas into liquid petroleum products in the Persian Gulf. In 2009, South Africa's Tubular Track contributed significantly to the improvement of Saudi Arabia's rail infrastructure and the October posts of that year of Libya reported that the state was seeking farmland in South Africa. Israel is the sixth-largest regional supplier of imports to South Africa and the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Yemen and Israel, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Egypt are ranked in their top fifty export markets. South Africa received R20 billion in arms trade with the Middle East Region in 2008 and R82 billion in 2009 with Sudan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Pakistan and Algeria as their biggest markets. South Africa actively participates in the United Nations peacekeeping operations in the Middle East Region and has been especially present in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and Dafar. However, South Africa has simultaneously opposed the Western powers and United Nations when they sought to challenge the human rights abuses in Sudan, Zimbabwe and Burma. The Islamic Republic of Iran who supported the African National Congress during South Africa’s struggle for freedom found support in South Africa who opposed the United Nations Security Council’s sanctions against Iran because of their nuclear weapon policy in January 2007. South Africa has both...