Posts Tagged ‘diplomatic time’

REPRISE: Syrian military continues campaign to crush opposition in Saraqeb, Homs, al-Qusair and elsewhere—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #16 (March 24, updated March 25, 2012)

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

REPRISE
Originally published March 25, 2012

Latest news reports

Oliver Holmes and Steve Gutterman (Beirut/Moscow), “Syrian forces on the offensive; Annan in Moscow,” Reuters, March 25, 2012 (10:14pm IST).

Syria: Local Residents Used as Human Shields; Reports of Residents Forced to March in Front of Soldiers in Idlib, Human Rights Watch, March 25, 2012.

Rami G. Khouri, “A new world order is born in Syria,” The Daily Star (Beirut), March 24, 2012 (01:25 a.m.).

Khouri’s optimism regarding the U.N. initiative led by Kofi Annan is noteworthy, particularly in view of the earlier pessimism expressed by the Editorial Board of The Daily Star. On March 9, 2012, they wrote:

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, “We procrastinate,” The Daily Star, March 9, 2012.

While the Observer has the highest respect for Khouri and his judgment, the available evidence in the public domain suggests that the March 9 Editorial of The Daily Star is much closer to the mark than his March 24 column on “the birth of a new world order.”

Correction: Earlier versions of this article mistakenly atribributed this text to Rami G. Khouri, to whom we apologize for the error.

It is indeed a historical moment in which the international community is called upon to craft a new response to regimes in crisis that cling to power against the democratic demands of their populations by the use of terror and the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The response that is required, however, and which may yet emerge–if not in this crisis perhaps in the next–does not countenance long, drawn-out negotiations with a Dictator who continues to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity against his population. It does not accept a scenario in which negotiations continue in diplomatic time, as thousands are killed in real time.

It does not accept a diplomatic dance that places the trump cards in the hands of authoritarian regimes complicit in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and in the hands of the Dictator committing those crimes.

It does not accept the “devil’s bargain” of negotiating with a war criminal the cessation of war crimes and crimes against humanity in exchange for his retaining power and the capability of using the instruments of state power to continue widespread and grave violations of fundamental human rights, including the right of assembly, the rights to free speech, freedom of the press, and to receive and impart information and ideas, the right to life and physical integrity of the human person, and the right to due process and a fair trial by an independent judiciary.

Instead, the response that is required, for both moral and political reasons, is an insistence on the cessation of crimes angainst humanity and war crimes as a condition precedent to negotiations betwen the dictatorial regime, its democratic opposition, and the international community. Limited military actions to halt the ongoing commission of such crimes may form a part of this international response, with the approval of the Security Council whenever possible, but without it if Security Counil action is blocked by a veto and the atrocities and butchery continue.

***

Original Article (March 24, 2012)

Der Spiegel reports in some detail on Iran’s assistance to the al-Assad government in its war against the opposition.

See “Aufstand in Syrien: Teheran liefert Assad angeblich Waffen,” Der Spiegel, den 24 März 2012.

See also, “Hopeless Diplomacy: Syrian Regime Resembles Mafia Cartel; Hopes that diplomacy will force Syrian President Bashar Assad to back down seem misguided, given that his regime resembles a mafia cartel bent on defending its turf by any means. There is no turning back for Assad’s clan or the rebels — both sides know that would spell their doom,” Der Spiegel (English), March 19, 2012.

In Syria, al-Assad’s troops, assisted by non-uniformed men, continued their attacks on rebel strongholds and conducted roundups of civilians.

Associated Press, “Syrian forces shell towns and clash with rebels; dozens killed,” The Washington Post, March 24, 2012.

The website of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights provides updates in English here, and in Arabic here.

We should not forget what is going on in Syria on the ground, not for a single day.

The Trenchant Observer

observer@trenchantobserver.com
www.twitter.com/trenchantobserv

***

–For earlier articles by The Trenchant Observer, see the Articles on Syria page.
–To use the Search function, click on “The Trenchant Observer” at the top of this page to go to the home page, and then enter your search term in the box at the upper right.
–A list of the most recent 15 articles (on all subjects) is also found on the home page, on the right.

***

How to find news reports from around the world
–Google and other major search engines use a series of filters amounting to what has been termed a “filter bubble” to limit search results to those keyed to the location, language, and previous search results of the user. See Eli Pariser, The Filter Bubble (2011).
–To find the latest news from around the world on Syria (or any other subject), you can bypass the “filter bubble” of Google and other search engines by going to and beginning your search at www.startpage.com

***

Syrian military continues campaign to crush opposition in Saraqeb, Homs, al-Qusair and elsewhere—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #16 (March 24, updated March 25)

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

Updated March 25, 2012

Please check back for news updates.

Latest news reports

Oliver Holmes and Steve Gutterman (Beirut/Moscow), “Syrian forces on the offensive; Annan in Moscow,” Reuters, March 25, 2012 (10:14pm IST).

Syria: Local Residents Used as Human Shields; Reports of Residents Forced to March in Front of Soldiers in Idlib, Human Rights Watch, March 25, 2012.

Rami G. Khouri, “A new world order is born in Syria,” The Daily Star (Beirut), March 24, 2012 (01:25 a.m.).

Khouri’s optimism regarding the U.N. initiative led by Kofi Annan is noteworthy, particularly in view of the earlier pessimism expressed by the Editorial Board of The Daily Star. On March 9, 2012, they wrote:

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, “We procrastinate,” The Daily Star, March 9, 2012.

While the Observer has the highest respect for Khouri and his judgment, the available evidence in the public domain suggests that the March 9 Editorial of The Daily Star is much closer to the mark than his March 24 column on “the birth of a new world order.”

Correction: Earlier versions of this article mistakenly atribributed this text to Rami G. Khouri, to whom we apologize for the error.

It is indeed a historical moment in which the international community is called upon to craft a new response to regimes in crisis that cling to power against the democratic demands of their populations by the use of terror and the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The response that is required, however, and which may yet emerge–if not in this crisis perhaps in the next–does not countenance long, drawn-out negotiations with a Dictator who continues to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity against his population.  It does not accept a scenario in which negotiations continue in diplomatic time, as thousands are killed in real time.

It does not accept a diplomatic dance that places the trump cards in the hands of authoritarian regimes complicit in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and in the  hands of the Dictator committing those crimes.

It does not accept the “devil’s bargain” of negotiating with a war criminal the cessation of war crimes and crimes against humanity in exchange for his retaining power and the capability of using the instruments of state power to continue widespread and grave violations of fundamental human rights, including the right of assembly, the rights to free speech, freedom of the press, and to receive and impart information and ideas, the right to life and physical integrity of the human person, and the right to due process and a fair trial by an independent judiciary.

Instead, the response that is required, for both moral and political reasons, is an insistence on the cessation of crimes angainst humanity and war crimes as a condition precedent to negotiations betwen the dictatorial regime, its democratic opposition, and the international community.  Limited military actions to halt the ongoing commission of  such crimes  may form a part of this international response, with the approval of the Security Council whenever possible, but without it if Security Counil action is blocked by a veto and the atrocities and butchery continue.

***

Original Article (March 24, 2012)

Der Spiegel reports in some detail on Iran’s assistance to the al-Assad government in its war against the opposition.

See “Aufstand in Syrien: Teheran liefert Assad angeblich Waffen,” Der Spiegel, den 24 März 2012.

See also, “Hopeless Diplomacy: Syrian Regime Resembles Mafia Cartel; Hopes that diplomacy will force Syrian President Bashar Assad to back down seem misguided, given that his regime resembles a mafia cartel bent on defending its turf by any means. There is no turning back for Assad’s clan or the rebels — both sides know that would spell their doom,” Der Spiegel (English), March 19, 2012.

In Syria, al-Assad’s troops, assisted by non-uniformed men, continued their attacks on rebel strongholds and conducted roundups of civilians.

Associated Press, “Syrian forces shell towns and clash with rebels; dozens killed,” The Washington Post, March 24, 2012.

The website of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights provides updates in English here, and in Arabic here.

We should not forget what is going on in Syria on the ground, not for a single day.

The Trenchant Observer

observer@trenchantobserver.com
www.twitter.com/trenchantobserv

***

–For earlier articles by The Trenchant Observer, see the Articles on Syria page.
–To use the Search function, click on “The Trenchant Observer” at the top of this page to go to the home page, and then enter your search term in the box at the upper right.
–A list of the most recent 15 articles (on all subjects) is also found on the home page, on the right.

***

How to find news reports from around the world
–Google and other major search engines use a series of filters amounting to what has been termed a “filter bubble” to limit search results to those keyed to the location, language, and previous search results of the user. See Eli Pariser, The Filter Bubble (2011).
–To find the latest news from around the world on Syria (or any other subject), you can bypass the “filter bubble” of Google and other search engines by going to and beginning your search at www.startpage.com

***

Syria: The Human Cost of Delay

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

An editorial today in The Daily Star (Beirut) reviewed the major developments and factors at play in Syria, including

1) the report of the Arab League monitors to be issued this weekend;
2) the UN offer to help enhance the performance of the Arab League monitors;
3) the emir of Qatar’s suggestion that sending Arab troops to stop the killing could be a viable option;
4) the Syrian government has informally floated a proposal to form a new government including key representation for the opposition, which would split the latter; and
5) the Syrian National Council and the Syrian Free Army have announced closer cooridnation of their efforts, which are aimed at toppling the al-Assad regime.

Against this background, the Editorial pointed to the human and social cost of delay:

Throughout all these developments, there is a common thread: None of these actions, or possibilities of action, has been able to stop the daily killing of Syrian citizens. A number of foreign actors are studying the situation and issuing daily pronouncements, assessments and ultimatums (emphasis added). None of them has managed to convince Assad and other Syrian officials that a hard-line crackdown is the wrong approach. The body count continues to rise on a daily basis, in a war of attrition between the regime and its opponents that only means average Syrians are being steadily ground down.

With each passing day, the violence continues, as the social fabric of Syria unravels. Every day, thousands of ordinary Syrians take stances on the popular uprising, whether for or against, and alienate the other side. When the crisis ends, huge efforts will be required to put the country and its economy back together again.

It is positive to see officials in the U.N. and leading countries in the world, and the region debate the various scenarios and try to produce a workable plan. But their timeframe is not indefinite; every passing day means more damage, and a bigger hole to dig out of.

–Editorial, The Daily Star, January 18, 2011

We are faced once again by the sharp disparity between diplomatic time and the real-world time of citizens who are living and dying every day as the result of government repression. In Libya, many of the citizens of Zawiya and Misurata died while outside powers engaged in long and drawn-out diplomatic consultations and deliberations.

Russia continues to block any forceful action by the Security Council.

See “Russia threatens Syria resolution at UN: Sergei Lavrov also accused Western countries of being one-sided,” BBC, January 18, 2012.

But Western Nations have also shown a great unwillingness to expose the callousness of the authoritarian regime of Mededev-Putin in defending the war criminals in Syria. Just this week, a Russian ship reportedly bearing munitions for the Syrian regime docked in Syria.

On January 9, Rami Khoury, a leading columnist for the Daily Star, underlined the positive aspects of the Arab League’s involvement in Syria, while also pointing toward the next steps which are urgent. Wrote Khoury:

The monitoring mission in Syria has been unimpressive due to a combination of logistical constraints and management weaknesses. This reflects the two structural sources of its weakness: the Arab League, being a collection of Arab governments, suffers chronic incompetence; and the Syrian government does not seem to be serious about implementing its agreement with the Arab body, which requires it to stop killing peaceful demonstrators.

Sadly, Syrians struggling for their freedom and rights will continue to die by the dozens every day, it seems, until some other mechanism is found that forces the government to end its policy of mass murder.

The weakness of the monitoring mechanism to date could be offset by the determination of the Arab League to go to the next step and take the issue to the U.N. Security Council or even seek indictments of Syrian officials at the International Criminal Court. Neither of those options guarantees that the killing will stop, or that Syrians can expect a peaceful transition to a democratic system of government. Yet for the Arab League to embark on a path that ultimately leads to these two bodies is a novelty worth monitoring.

–Rami Khoury, “A hopeful path for the Arab League?” The Daily Star, January 9, 2012

It is now time fror the Arab League to refer the question of Syria to Security Council for further action, which could include enlisting the Arab League’s assistance in carrying out its decisions under article 53 of the U.N. Charter.

Khoury’s second action item, a decision by the Security Council to invest the International Criminal Court with authority to investigate and prosecute the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the al-Assad regime and any other forces in Syria, is long overdue.

On December 12, 2012, Navi Pillay, the U.N. Commisioner for Human Rights, called for the Security Council to grant authority to the ICC to investigate and try Syrian officials potentially guilty of crimes against humanity.

Ian Black, Middle East editor, “”Syria blasts call for ICC investigation by UN human rights commissioner: State TV blames ‘conspiracy’ against Bashar al-Assad’s regime after Navi Pillay says situation in Syria is intolerable,” The Guardian, December 13, 2012.

AP, “Syria: 5,000 dead in violence, says UN human rights chief: Navi Pillay says at least 300 children are among the dead as US ambassador Susan Rice urges security council to act,” The Guardian, December 12, 2011. The article contains a video of remarks made by her at at a press conference the U.N.

“Refer Syria to ICC – Navi Pillay, ” Tamil Guardian, 13 December 2011 The article contains excerpts from her remarks to a closed session of the Security Council.

So, as Syria spirals downward toward all-out civil war, what can be done?

It is time for Western and Arab governments to stop wringing their hands over their powerlessness, and to bring a motion in the Security Council to authorize the International Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute the commission of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Syria by al-Asad and government forces, or anyone else. That motion should be put to a public vote.

The argument against going public would be that it undermines efforts to develop a consensus among the permanent members of the Security Council, without which it cannot act. However, in view of Foreign Minister Lavrov’s declarations today, as reported by the BBC, any consensus among the five on Syria is not likely to develop in the short term. In fact, to get the Russians to stop blocking action on Syria at some point in the future, public pressure on them in the Security Council now, in the context of specific reolutions, could be the most effective action the West and the Arab states could take.

At the same time, neither the Russians nor the Chinese should be ignored at the Security Council, and intense efforts should continue to bring them, and Russia in particular, to the view that avoiding a civil war in Syria is in their interests as well as those of the West and the Arab countries.

The hour has come for urgent action by the international community on Syria. If necessary, let us have a public debate in the Security Council on a motion to refer the question of crimes against humanity and war crimes to the International Criminal Court.

Western and Arab nations should spare no efforts in convincing each and every one of the other members of the Security Council of the importance of each country’s vote.

If the Russians want to veto that resolution, let them do so publicly, and pay the diplomatic and political cost. The time to act is now, before Putin’s anticipated re-election as president of Russia in March.

The Trenchant Observer

observer@trenchantobserver.com
www.twitter/trenchantobserv