Posts Tagged ‘Arab countries’

After G-8 “agreement on Syria”, the fighting continues—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #41 (May 23) REVISED

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

G-8 Camp David Final Communique: Statement on Syria

1. We, the Leaders of the Group of Eight, met at Camp David on May 18 and 19, 2012 to address major global economic and political challenges.

31. We remain appalled by the loss of life, humanitarian crisis, and serious and widespread human rights abuses in Syria. The Syrian government and all parties must immediately and fully adhere to commitments to implement the six-point plan of UN and Arab League Joint Special Envoy (JSE) Kofi Annan, including immediately ceasing all violence so as to enable a Syrian-led, inclusive political transition leading to a democratic, plural political system. We support the efforts of JSE Annan and look forward to seeing his evaluation, during his forthcoming report to the UN Security Council, of the prospects for beginning this political transition process in the near-term. Use of force endangering the lives of civilians must cease. We call on the Syrian government to grant safe and unhindered access of humanitarian personnel to populations in need of assistance in accordance with international law. We welcome the deployment of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria, and urge all parties, in particular the Syrian government, to fully cooperate with the mission. We strongly condemn recent terrorist attacks in Syria. We remain deeply concerned about the threat to regional peace and security and humanitarian despair caused by the crisis and remain resolved to consider further UN measures as appropriate.

–Camp David Declaration, The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, May 19, 2012.

For quotes from President Obama at the G-8 summit relating to Syria, Russian statements affirming their position had been adopted, and commentary, see

The Trenchant Observer, “Obama clueless on Syria? G-8 endorses UN 6-point peace plan—Obama’s Debacle in Syria—Update #39 (May 21),” May 21, 2012.

Latest New Reports and Opinion

Syrian forces have resumed their attack on Rastan. AFP reports,

Soldiers were trying to overrun Rastan for the second time in 10 days, with shells crashing into the town at the rate of “one a minute” at one stage, according to the Britain-based watchdog.

An activist told AFP that Free Syrian Army fighters were defending Rastan’s entrances but that “regime forces are being strengthened with new deployments,” including from the elite Republican Guard.

“Electricity has been cut off in Rastan, and water tanks have been shelled,” said activist Abu Rawan. “There is also a severe lack of food because the market is closed and we can’t bring food in from nearby villages.”

Hours later, the activist said the army assault eased when a team of UN observers entered Rastan.

“The situation is calm now because the UN monitors have arrived” having heard the shelling, Abu Rawan told AFP, adding, however, “God protect us when they leave.”

On May 14, 23 soldiers were killed in a failed assault on the town, which straddles the main highway linking the capital to the north and where rebels regrouped from the battered city of Homs.

More than 12,600 people have been killed in the bloodshed, nearly 1,500 of them since a UN-backed truce took effect April 12, according to Observatory figures.

–AFP, “Syria assails rebel town, admits sanctions hurting,” The Daily Star, May 23, 2012 (09:52 PM).

On Tuesday, May 22, in al-Busaira, Syrian police forces fired into a crowd of several hundred people who had gathered to meet with the U.N. monitors, as the latter looked on. According to opposition reports, at least two people were killed.

Unter den Augen von UNO-Beobachtern sollen syrische Polizisten in eine Menschenmenge geschossen und zwei Personen getötet haben. Ein Vertreter der Opposition berichtete am Dienstag, in al-Busaira in der ost-syrischen Provinz Deir al-Zor seien Hunderte begeisterte Menschen aus ihren Häusern gestürmt, um die UNO-Beobachter zu begrüßen. “Binnen Minutenfrist gerieten sie ins Feuer”, sagte der Sprecher der überwiegend aus Deserteuren gebildeten Freien Syrischen Armee (FSA). Andere Informanten aus der Opposition sagten, die Regierungstruppen hätten mit Flugabwehrraketen in die Stadt geschossen.

–”Syrien: Bürger vor Augen von UN-Beobachtern getötet?; Syrische Sicherheitskräfte sollen in eine Menschenmenge geschossen haben, die die UNO-Beobachter begrüßen wollte,” Die Presse (Die Presse.com / Wien), 22 Mai 2012.

On Monday, May 21, some 38 people were killed in the fighting in Syria, according to opposition sources. These included 22 soldiers, 11 rebels, and 5 civilians.

“Fast 40 Menschen sterben bei Gefechten; Seit Mitte April herrscht in Syrien Waffenstillstand, doch die Gewalt bricht immer wieder aus: Am Montag wurden erneut viele Menschen getötet, Kriegsgerät soll zerstört worden sein. Uno-Generalsekretär Ban sieht die internationalen Friedensbemühungen an einem “kritischen Punkt”, Der Spiegel, 21 Mai 2012.

For an incisive overview of the current situation, stressing the need for urgent action including potentially military action, see Itamar Rabinovich, “The Anarchy Factor in Syria,” ISN Blog (ETH, Zurich), 23 May 2012.

Analysis

The theoretical U.N. ceasefire “agreed to” as part of the Security Council’s 6-point peace plan was never observed by al-Assad. It seems now that the rebels have resumed their attacks in earnest. Meanwhile, a third element–linked to al-Qaeda–appears to have entered the fray.

The situation is no longer “spinning out of control”. It is out of control. Whether the U.S., Europe and the Arab countries can act quickly enough to stem the tide is an open question.

Judging from the statements at the G-8 summit at Camp David, these key countries are still asleep. Whether there is more than meets the eye, beneath the surface, remains to be seen.

Publicly, the G-8 and NATO are obviously not paying attention and working hard to come up with new solutions. Such solutions would probably involve the credible threat or actual use of military force.

The Trenchant Observer

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Libya and “The Audacity to Act”

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

The Audacity to Act

We are watching in Libya an authoritarian state use the weapons of modern warfare to put down protests which were peaceful, in the beginning, until the force of the state was turned against unarmed people.

President Obama appears to be, once again, suffering from “analysis paralysis”.

One thinks of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, poised to invade Europe at Normandy, receiving bad weather reports that put the mission into grave danger. After delaying the launch of the Allied invasion of Europe for a day, with a slight opening in the weather forecasts, he acted decisively in the face of enormous risks. But he acted.

For a succinct summary of Eisenhower’s decision, see Valerie Hausladen, Professional Destiny.

If it had been Obama making the decision, he would in all likelihood have waited for another couple of weeks of weather reports, during which time the secrecy of the operation might have been compromised.

During the crisis in Afghanistan following the massive fraud in the August, 2009 presidential elections, Obama flinched and allowed a unique opportunity to gain leverage over the corrupt and disloyal Hamid Karzai, through insisting on the constitutional process of performing a proper counting of election results and complying with decisions by the Independent Electoral Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission in accordance with the law.

Obama temporized, and at that precise moment, the democratic project of the West, including NATO, the UN, and the United States, was abandoned.

It was a fleeting moment of opportunity. As has happened so often in the Afghan war theater, the president called for more analysis, and the opportunity was lost.

Today, with all of the advances of technology, it is as if we are personally witnessing the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, or the 1968 Prague Spring, being crushed by Soviet and Warsaw Pact tanks and weapons of war, and standing idly by.

But the world has changed since 1956 and 1968. We do not face the risk of nuclear confrontation with the Soviets if we oppose Qaddafi’s military and state security forces as they put down a democratic revolution in Libya. In fact, NATO and the U.S. face a military opponent who in all likelihood would fold if ever confronted by a serious outside military force.

Are we prepared to watch Qaddafi butcher all of those who have risen in rebellion in the name of democracy? How will such a stance affect perceptions of the West in the Middle East, at this decisive moment in the region’s history?

To be sure, we have acted to produce a unanimously-approved Security Council resolution condemning Qadaffi’s military assaults on his population and referring the commission of potential war crimes and crimes against humanity to the International Criminal Court for investigation. The ICC has moved quickly to implement this mandate.

But is this enough?

The challenge for the West, and the entire international community, is to find an effective means to act in Libya which does not at the same time establish a precedent that might create pressures to act to support democratic rebellions in other countries, such as Saudi Arabia.

The establishment of a no-fly zone would be immensely helpful, now.

The massive provision of humanitarian assistance, even within Libya, would be immensely helpful, now.

The provision of gasoline and other fuel to the forces defending Benghazi and other towns in the East, in order to prevent the commission of crimes against humanity and war crimes against a civilian population would be immensely helpful, now.

How might these actions be squared with the requirements of international law and the authority of the Security Council to take actions to maintain international peace and security?

The United States and the NATO countries, together with other states, should now openly debate whether the 2006 U.N. Security Council resolution recognizing the “Responsibility to Protect” civilian populations against the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity is applicable, in the current circumstances in Libya.

The world has changed since 1956 and 1968. At this moment the United Nations and other international organizations demand that Laurent Gbagbo step down from the presidency of Ivory Coast because he clearly lost free elections to his opponent Alessanne Ouattara.

In deciding what actions to take in Libya, the international community needs to focus like a laser on the spectacle of United Nations forces standing idly by while some 7,000 people were massacred by Serb and Bosnian Serb forces at Srebenice, in Bosnia, on July 11, 2005.

President Obama has written eloquently of “The Audacity of Hope”.

Hundreds of thousands if not millions of Libyans have demonstrated the audacity of hoping for and fighting for a democratic future.

The question now facing President Obama is whether he can move beyond his customary “analysis paralysis” and lead.

Facing the prospect of another Srebrenice, will he move beyond words and demonstrate “the audacity to act”?

The Trenchant Observer

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