The Daily Star (Beirut) has been one of the absolute best sources for reliable and up-to-date information on what is going on in Syria, and on the broader significance of events.
Today’s Editorial (March 9) is particularly honest and perceptive, and cuts to the essence of the factors at play now in Syria and in the international community. Extensive excerpts follow:
(T)he death toll is now reaching 8,000, according to estimates, and the Syrian government’s cleansing of towns continues.
Figures of more than 60 a day dead are now becoming commonplace. Yet in a year of massacres, attacks, bombardments and destructions of villages, towns and cities that dare to protest we have seen the international community become mere witnesses, recording events. They simply count the numbers of dead, highlighting the devastation that has been caused.
Their action is painfully limited. Kofi Annan is to travel to Damascus Saturday to confront the violence, but what he can bring to the table is a continuation of what the regime has listened to, and ignored, all year. The United States’, the West’s and the United Nations’ semantic exercises continue unabated, and so does the bloodshed enacted by the Syrian government.
We already know that the ultimate result of Annan’s visit will be further procrastination…
As long as independent foreign media and observers are not allowed in to witness the true scale of the chaos in Syria, it can be assumed that we will continue to face a fiasco, with an international reaction that not only does not help, but actually provides a respite for the regime to continue its campaign of destruction.
The scene around Syria overflows with talk. The world’s big players proffer big words, which amount to zero in their impact on the Syrian regime – if anything they are utilized in their propaganda campaign.
The international community is attempting to save face, and by doing so is exhibiting its hypocrisy in every step and every word. This is hypocrisy of the worst kind, not only uncovering the ulterior motives of the world powers, but also serving as an eye-opener as to the intentions of the small, medium and super powers. God help any downtrodden party who takes the words of those powers at their face value. In this, the international community’s reaction to the crisis in Syria should be a lesson for many nations that look to it for support.
In the meantime, help for Syria is still at square one and none of the steps currently being taken are going to eradicate the shame of the international community.
–Editorial, The Daily Star (Beirut), March 9, 2012
As the sad spectacle of Kofi Annan’s “mediation” of the conflict proceeds, and the world’s attention is turned to what Russia, or Annan, or the U.S. or other countries are saying in their interminable diplomatic dance, it is of utter importance that we all follow the example of The Daily Star and keep our attention riveted on what is happening on the ground.
Let us all, together, focus primarily on that, on events on the ground. As Kofi Annan prepares to travel to Damascus on Saturday, March 10, tanks are surrounding Idlib, soldiers have been bussed to the area, and the new onslaught has already begun as tanks overrun villages in outlying areas. In the meantime, tanks and artillery continue to attack civilian neighborhoods in Homs. Undoubtedly, they are also on the move in other parts of Syria.
For the latest reports, see
Lauren Williams, “Deaths mount in Syria on eve of Annan talks,” The Daily Star (Beirut), March 10, 2012 (02:04 AM local time).
Not only is Kofi Annan’s mission the wrong mission, but he has shown by essentially advancing the Russian position that he is not the right man for the job. Nor is it wise to place in a single individual the job of representing both the Arab League and the United Nations.
If Annan does not produce a complete ceasefire and withdrawal of tanks from cities within seven days, then his mission should be terminated by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. This goes against the usual diplomatic inertia and courtesies and niceties, but it constitutes what is required if the killing in Syria is to be stopped.
The Trenchant Observer
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