Posts Tagged ‘Homs governate’

Putin’s victory: Another Security Council “presidential statement”, and ferocious attacks on the ground—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #23 (April 7)

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

The 6-point Kofi Annan peace plan contained in the March 21, 2012 Security Council “Presidential Statement” is fatally flawed.

The plan by its design meets Russian demands to play for time and to prevent other states from taking actions on the ground that might actually bring the killing to a halt. This is exactly what has occurred since the plan was first announced.

It provides a smokescreen for cowardly inaction by the West and the Arab states and the international community in the face of the wanton and ongoing commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity on a wide scale.

It has led–at least until now–to the victory of Vladimir Putin, Russia, Iran, and China over the West, the Arab countries, Turkey, and other civilized countries. This victory represents the triumph of the darkest elements of represssion and 20th century history over the 21st century values of the U.N. Charter, the human rights movement, and the struggle for transitions to democracy throughout the world. The impact of this defeat, if not reversed, will be felt in every country on the planet where citizens are struggling to achieve respect for fundamental human rights and a democratic future.

Latest News Reports and Opinion

The Sydney Morning Post reports on the death toll in Syria on Saturday,

More than 100 people have been reported killed across Syria in a single day, 74 of them civilians, as regime forces pressed a protest crackdown three days ahead of a deadline to cease fire and pull back.

At least 40 civilians died ‘‘in bombardment and shooting on the town of Latamna,’’ in Hama province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Britain-based monitoring group said civilians were killed as well in Tibet al-Imam, also in Hama, and another 16 in the neighbouring province of Homs, where Rastan town was bombed, in Idlib to the northwest, and Aleppo in north Syria.

In escalating clashes, 16 rebels and 17 members of the security forces were also killed nationwide, it said, adding 13 bodies were found in Deir Balaa district of Homs and 10 extracted from rubble in Hreitan, Aleppo province.

The Observatory said the deaths came after President Bashar al-Assad’s forces launched an overnight assault on Latamna and clashed with members of the rebel Free Syrian Army.

–Sydney Morning Post, “Syria violence escalates ahead of deadline,” April 8, 2012.

El País reports that the bodies of 13 persons whose hands had been tied and who had allegedly been executed were found in Homs on Saturday. A video was provided by activists. Over 100 people were killed on Saturday, the paper reports.

–Ana Carbajosa (Jerusalén), “El régimen sirio tiñe de sangre el país a tres días de la tregua; La represión gubernamental deja casi un centenar de muertos según los rebeldes; Annan asegura que Siria aplicará el alto el fuego a partir del 10 de abril, El País, 7 abril 2012 (16:53 CET).

Defectors from the Syrian army have been interviewed by McClatchy Newspapers, in Turkey, providing eyewitness accounts of orders and actions to kill civilians, and of the execution of soldiers who refused to execute those orders. The story also details the commission of war crimes where in one case some 30 civilians were lined up and shot.

One of the most detailed accounts came from a former soldier who identified himself as Master Sgt. Maxim Kawa, a pseudonym he adopted to protect his family, still in Syria.

Kawa, who said he was 26, said he was based in Homs with the Syrian special forces, an elite unit that was deployed repeatedly in the heartland of the uprising to suppress civilian protesters starting last May. Kawa said the unit’s mission was to protect and clear the way for one of Syria’s 16 security services to seize civilian resisters, but that his unit’s members also were ordered to execute civilians. This they did until something snapped, and top officers were sent in to give them a two-day “re-education” course.

Kawa said the unit mounted repeated assaults on civilian protesters in Baba Amr, a part of Homs that the army retook in February after 26 days of artillery bombardment, in the towns of Rastan, about 12 miles from Homs, and Tel Kalakh, on Syria’s border with Lebanon.

Kawa’s unit occupied Rastan for eight days last May, losing one soldier to an armed local. “Our officers told us that we must take revenge for our friends,” Kawa said. “They pushed us to kill civilians.”

He said his group of about 50 soldiers dragged 30 men out of their houses, tied their hands behind their backs and took them to the town’s main street.
“We put them against a wall and shot them,” he said.

–Roy Gutman, “In rare interviews, Syrian ex-soldiers talk of killing civilians,” McClatchy Newspapers, April 2, 2012.

For a gripping account of the Syrian army’s assault on and terror in Taftanaz, including a description of the rebel fighters’ actions and the battle for the town, see

Anand Gopal “Survivors tell of bloody aftermath to fight in Taftanaz, Syria,” McClatchy Newspapers, April 6, 2012.

Der Spiegel reports Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan as saying that he will await the ceasefire implementation by the Tuesday morning deadline, but that if it does not take place Turkey will take “measures”. These measures are understood to include the establishment of humanitarian protection zones inside Syria’s territory. Der Spiegel also reports on actions on the ground, including the deaths of 40 people when the Syrian army stormed the village of Latamneh in central Hama province. It also reports on activists’ accounts of attacks in Homs, and on the rebel-held neighborhoods of Rastan, Deir Baalabeh, and Kusair.

–”Erdogan droht Assad-Regime mit “Schritten; Türkischer Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Drohgebärde Richtung Damaskus; Ruhig will der türkische Premier Erdogan auf die bevorstehende Waffenruhe in Syrien warten. Sollte die Gewalt nach Verstreichen der Frist jedoch andauern, droht er dem Regime in Damaskus mit “Schritten”. Noch scheint kein Ende des Blutvergießens in Sicht: Allein am Samstag starben 100 Menschen,” Der Spiegel, 7 April 2012.

Le Figaro reports that at least 74 civilians were killed on Saturday, and a total of 120 persons, with a majority of the civilians being killed in bombardments of Latamna (Latamneh) in the region of Hama, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

–”Flambée de violence en Syrie à quelques jours de la trêve,” Le Figaro, 7 avril 2012 (mis à jour à 21:43 h).

U.N. Security Council Statement of April 5, 2012

On April 5, 2012, the U.N. Security Council issued a new “Presidential Statement” urging Syria to comply with the ceasefire provisions in Kofi Annan 6-point peace plan by Tuesday, April 10, 2012. The text (UN Doc. S/PRST/2012/10) follows:

Statement by the President of the Security Council

At the 6746th meeting of the Security Council, held on 5 April 2012, in connection with the Council’s consideration of the item entitled “The situation in the Middle East”, the President of the Council made the following statement on behalf of the Council:

“The Security Council recalls its Presidential Statements of 3 August 2011 and 21 March 2012 and its Press Statement of 1 March 2012.

“The Security Council reaffirms its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of Syria, and to the purposes and principles of the Charter.

“The Security Council expresses its appreciation for the 2 April 2012 briefing of the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, Kofi Annan. The Security Council notes that the Syrian government committed on 25 March 2012 to implement the Envoy’s six-point proposal.

“The Security Council calls upon the Syrian government to implement urgently and visibly its commitments, as it agreed to do in its communication to the Envoy of 1 April, to (a) cease troop movements towards population centres, (b) cease all use of heavy weapons in such centres, and (c) begin pullback of military concentrations in and around population centres, and to fulfil these in their entirety by no later than 10 April 2012.

“The Security Council calls upon all parties, including the opposition, to cease armed violence in all its forms within 48 hours of the implementation in their entirety by the Syrian government of measures (a), (b), (c) above. The Security Council further calls upon the opposition to engage with the Envoy in this regard.

“The Security Council underscores the importance of an effective and credible United Nations supervision mechanism in Syria to monitor a cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties and relevant aspects of the Envoy’s six-point proposal. The Security Council requests the Secretary-General to provide proposals for such a mechanism as soon as appropriate, after consultations with the government of Syria. The Security Council stands ready to consider these proposals and to authorise an effective and impartial supervision mechanism upon implementation of a cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties.

“The Security Council underscores the central importance of a peaceful political settlement to the Syrian crisis and reiterates its call for the urgent, comprehensive, and immediate implementation of all aspects of the Envoy’s six-point proposal. The Security Council reiterates its full support for the Envoy’s six-point proposal aimed at bringing an immediate end to all violence and human rights violations, securing humanitarian access and facilitating a Syrian-led political transition leading to a democratic, plural political system, in which citizens are equal regardless of their affiliations, ethnicities or beliefs,
including through commencing a comprehensive political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition.

“The Security Council reiterates its call for the Syrian authorities to allow immediate, full and unimpeded access of humanitarian personnel to all populations in need of assistance, in accordance with international law and guiding principles of humanitarian assistance. The Security Council calls upon all parties in Syria, in particular the Syrian authorities, to cooperate fully with the United Nations and relevant humanitarian organizations to facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance. To this end, the Security Council calls on all parties to immediately implement a daily two hour humanitarian pause as called for in the Envoy’s six-point proposal.

“The Security Council requests the Envoy to update the Council on the cessation of violence in accordance with the above timeline, and progress towards implementation of his six-point proposal in its entirety. In the light of these reports, the Security Council will consider further steps as appropriate.”

Analysis

U.N. Security Council “Presidential Statements” have no legal force. In the case of Syria, they seem to be largely useless exercises in rhetoric. Their usefullness is limited to the role they can play in developing a consensus among the permanent members of the Security Council which might then be converted into legally binding action by the Security Council through adoption of a resolution.

“Presidential statements” can also be used by Russia (and China) to create the illusion of movement and agreement where in fact none exists. The March 21 statement has had this effect. This latest statement on April 5 may serve the Russian’s interests by gaining more time for al-Assad to wipe out the opposition. Anyone who has any illusions about Russia being moved by humanitarian considerations in Syria has not been following developments in that country on the ground for the last six months.

To recapitulate:

The 6-point Kofi Annan peace plan contained in the March 21, 2012 Security Council “Presidential Statement” it is fatally flawed.

The plan by its design meets Russian demands to play for time and to prevent other states from taking actions on the ground that might actually bring the killing to a halt. This is exactly what has occurred since the plan was first announced.

It provides a smokescreen for cowardly inaction by the West and the Arab states and the international community in the face of the wanton and ongoing commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity on a wide scale.

It has led–at least until now–to the victory of Vladimir Putin, Russia, Iran, and China over the West, the Arab countries, Turkey, and other civilized countries in the world. This victory represents the triumph of the darkest elements of represssion and 20th century history over the 21st century values of the U.N. Charter, the human rights movement, and the struggle for transitions to democracy throughout the world. The impact of this defeat, if not reversed, will be felt in every country on the planet where citizens are struggling to achieve respect for fundamental human rights and a democratic future.

The idea that a “Syrian-led” process of political negotiation could lead to a peaceful transition in Syria has become ludicrous, in view of developments on the ground.

Any peace process must be led by the international community–not “Syrian led” which in practice puts all the cards in al-Assad’s hands.

Bashar al-Assad, the author of countless war crimes and crimes against humanity, must go.

The nations of the world need to intervene to stop the killing, first, and then to organize an orderly transition to follow al-Assad’s departure. The alternatives have been laid out very cogently by Senator McCain in his speech on the floor of the Senate on March 5, 2012.

President Obama, if he cannot lead, needs to get out of the way. He is standing squarely on the wrong side of history.

The Trenchant Observer

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