Today al-Assad’s forces reportedly killed 20 demonstrators in Khan Sheikhoun as UN monitors looked on.
Neil MacFarquhar and Hwaida Saad (Beirut), “U.N. Team Sees Clash Between Syrian Protesters and Soldiers,” New York Times, May 15, 2012.
They report the following:
BEIRUT, Lebanon — A convoy of unarmed United Nations monitors got caught up in a violent confrontation between protesters and Syrian government forces on Tuesday, with activist organizations putting the casualty toll at around 20 killed and dozens wounded.
The United Nations monitors escaped unscathed, but three of their four vehicles were damaged by some kind of explosive device, said a statement from Ahmad Fawzi, the spokesman for Kofi Annan, the United Nations and Arab League special envoy for Syria.
Eyewitnesses reached via Skype in Khan Sheikhoun, the town in the embattled northwestern province of Idlib where the confrontation took place, said that a large crowd had turned out for the funeral of a man killed by government forces two days earlier near Hama.
Meanwhile, there were clear signs that the government was manipulating the vote results from the parliamentary elections held on May 7. MacFarquhar and Saad note, in the same article,
“In Damascus, the government announced delayed results from the May 7 election for seats in Parliament, emphasizing what it said was a participation rate that exceeded 51 percent. But in broadcasting the results live on state television, Judge Khalaf al-Azzawi, the chairman of the higher committee for elections, avoided questions about the number of voters in embattled provinces like Homs or Idlib and refused to characterize the political affiliation of the new members.”
Free association: This delay is not much of a surprise as no one expected the elections to be honest in the first place.
But the fact that over a week has passed since the elections does bring to mind the great delay that has occurred with the publication of the State Department human rights reports, which by law were due by February 25.
Could this enormous delay be due to the fact that the Obama administration is massaging the reports for political reasons, contrary to the law’s intent?
On the basis of what we know, one must assume that this is the case. The House and Senate foreign relations committess should immediately convoke hearings for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to offer her excuses and explanations.
These reports are relevant to critical decision making by governments around the world. Their publication should not be delayed for another day.
What will it take for the international community to recognize that by sending more monitors to Syria, it is adding to Bashar al-Assad’s panoply of human shields? Those shields protect him from military action to force him to halt the killing. They also short-circuit the thinking processes of the leaders of all countries who still–at this late date–support the Security Council’s 6-point peace plan.
It is time to dismantle the Kofi Annan 6-point peace plan. UNSMIS should be put into lockdown until al-Assad complies with the conditions in the peace plan, and withdrawn if he doesn’t.
How can this be achieved?
USMIS can be stopped the same way the Arab peace monitor mission was stopped–by countries withdrawing their members, and refusing to send any additional members to the delegation. When the UNSMIS mission comes up for an extension at the end of 90 days, it should be blocked by a majority of the Security Council.
In over 60 years of peace observation and peacekeeping missions, the United Nations has never embarked on a mission so contrary to common sense, so contrary to analysis of the facts of the ground, and so devoid of promise. The mission should be aborted, immediately.
There is no peace to be monitored. A ceasefire, if it comes, will come as a result of a decision or decisions by al-Assad and his entourage, and not one day before.
The only thing that is likely to push the Syrian Dictator and his henchmen to reach such a decision is a credible threat of military intervention by outside powers, and the execution of that threat if the threat does not suffice.
Civilized nations should prepare for such military action at once.
The Trenchant Observer
For links to other articles by The Trenchant Observer, click on the title at the top of this page to go to the home page, and then consult the information in the bottom right hand corner of the home page. The Articles on Syria page can also be found here.