Sunday, April 08, 2012

8-Apr-12: A Syrian lesson about relying on others

Syrian protestors who know the nature of the al-Assad regime
better than most foreign observers express (in February 2012)
the central truth of the impotence that characterizes
foreign intervention in their country. [Image Source]
We have just been reading a report that quotes Washington's man in Damascus (now back in Washington) doing what we described in the post we uploaded earlier tonight: wringing his hands. To be clear: we have no doubt he speaks from genuine anguish. We certainly don't envy the man or his job or his recent posting in the nerve centre of the appalling, ongoing Syrian bloodbath.

The bottom line is he is unable, as far as we can tell, to save the life of even one Syrian child. The same is true of special UN envoy Kofi Anan, who yesterday warned of "alarming" casualties, as if more than 9,000 already-dead Syrians was somehow less than alarming. His boss Ban Ki-Moon has "condemned" the al-Assad regime for the massacres, but they don't stop. The noisy Arab League got Syira's permission (!) in late December 2011 to send observers
"to monitor Syria's progress in removing troops from protest areas, free political prisoners and negotiate with dissidents."
They got there a week later, and within four weeks, the Saudi Arabians and then the Arab Gulf states announced they were withdrawing from the mission. Two weeks later, after various contradictory reports about the mission being extended, it was "indefinitely suspended" on January 28 and everyone went home. In fact, every other international figure or body that has tried to step in has failed. In February 2012, all of the fifteen members of the UN Security Council, called for the Syrian president to step down. But the resolution was vetoed by Russia and China and so it failed. We noted last year ["14-Jun-11: Arab spring, Syrian fall?"] that this would happen. Quoting an Haaretz commentator, we said al-Assad's regime
has the full backing - and the threat of their veto of any anti-Syrian resolution - of China and Russia. Their support enables Assad to continue to characterize his violent suppression of demonstrations and shooting of protesters as an "internal Syrian matter". 
And that is exactly what is happening. Simply put, there are limits to what can be achieved when you are dealing with people - and there are many, many such people - like the Butcher of Damascus, Basher al-Assad.

Here's what Robert Ford, the US ambassador to Syria, said Friday [source: MSNBC] while publishing satellite images that show Syria has artillery poised to hit residential areas and has moved forces from one town to another in the face of calls for a withdrawal that it has pretended to honor:
"Ford said Syrian forces had indeed withdrawn from some areas [but] cited media reports that they had fired artillery at residential areas in several towns over the last two days and had carried out "arrest sweeps" in Damascus suburbs. "This is not the reduction in offensive Syrian government security operations that all agree must be the first step for the Annan initiative to succeed... The regime and the Syrian people should know that we are watching. The regime cannot hide the truth. We strongly urge the Assad regime to allow the U.N. compliance team, an effective and independent means of verification, to have full and unfettered access throughout Syria to investigate the regime’s compliance..." 
Such calm language. Such noble hopes. And day after day, for a year already, tens of people have been killed by the armed forces of Al-Assad's army.

As Israelis have learned, the hard way, when it comes to the lives of your loved ones, relying on the goodwill and high hopes of people from outside your own borders can be a life-threatening experience.

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