Transformative peace in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya will take considerable effort. There is no doubt in the effort needed, what will always be an unknown is how long peace will take. There can be no timeframe set out before because there are too many variables.
It will only take one act of massive violence to dislodge months or years of peace work in any of the countries mentioned above. We often hear about the atrocities being committed by the Syrian government yet very few of the equally horrible atrocities committed by the rebels. Think about it for a moment, how do we know it was a member of the Syrian army that set off a bomb? All the rebel factions and the government forces are using the same make of weapons. Furthermore, the rebel factions are very much against each other as well. There is an internal fight for which rebel group is going to take power once the current government falls. With that each rebel group gains ground if they stage attacks on other rebel positions so that it looks like the Syrian government is the aggressor. There are just too many questions and to be answered and there is little to no trust in anyone during such situations.
Looking at Afghanistan we have known for the past year or so that complete chaos is the most likely reality in 2015. More and more news reports are coming out that indicate failure of almost every project to sustain peace in Afghanistan. Also the reports we read point to a very dire need for international forces to remain. Unfortunately that need is going to fall on deaf ears as the violence grows. The lack of political will has cemented a strong understanding in the minds of terrorist that the worlds military powers can and have been defeated. That is a terrible reality for the entire world.
In Libya, the unrest with tribal conflicts and a strong belief that the government is doing nothing has made peace very difficult. There are calls for lengthy Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, Disarmament programs still need to take place and strong political leadership has not happened. These three issues are front and centre yet there are very little solutions which the people believe in. There still exists a great distrust of all politicians and tribes which are seen as lining pockets and power hungry.
Iraq has experienced many problems since the end of the occupation. Sectarian politics has once again gripped the country as it did during Saddam Hussein. The reality is that life is more insecure today than it was 15 years ago. What is even more troubling is that there seems to be no change in the near future.
Societies are elements of life which move slowly to the requests/desires of the people, even though a society is made up of the people. Such a reality is a mind trap of understanding which usually ends with that average person being frustrated. Sometimes that frustration turns into violence. To transform a society the focus needs to be on the point where frustration is resulting in violence. That is the tipping point of peace.
Being frustrated is a positive element as it indicates a deep concern of the individual for positive results. The major obstacle in the transformation is to reach each person’s goals and time frame. Another point which is in dire need of understanding is the reality of how long peace takes. Weeks, months and years are rarely enough, even a decade is short term. For a violent society to change, the vision is for a generation of people to pass through. Still the need for strong, trusted leadership and clear vision is needed more than actual peace within the first few years after violent conflict.Even though I stated that there is no time frame, peace theory speculates that a generation of people needs to turn over for lasting peace to take root. In the cases of the countries listed above, the end date for combat/peace operations should be 2043 at the earliest.
That amount of time will provide the people ample opportunity to build, educate and experience the transformation of society. Such a time frame will allow the people room to discuss how they want to live as country of people, not just as tribes or sectarian groups. Such a long term plan allows the people to understand who they are going to be and how they will live. Those elements are the roots of transformative peace. What we are experiencing now in the countries named is a cycle of violence.