Originally published March 25, 2012
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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.
We should not forget what is going on in Syria on the ground, not for a single day.
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