Posts Tagged ‘Russian foreign minister’

Kofi Annan proves Karl Marx right: “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce”—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #59 (July 9)

Monday, July 9th, 2012

For background, see the following articles by The Trenchant Observer:

“Oh, what a beautiful castle in the sky! Kofi Annan—the Illusionist, the moral cowardice of the world, and the end of the United Nations dream—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #58 (July 2)”
July 2, 2012

“Immunity or safe-conduct for al-Assad? Can Kofi Annan fail? Conference before cease-fire?—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #56 (June 23),” June 23, 2012

“The League of Authoritarian States”—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #50 (June 9),” June 9, 2012

“Stop the UN farce!—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #37 (May 15),” May 15, 2012

“Kofi Annan is not God—Obama’s debacle in Syria — Update #15,”
March 23, 2012

Karl Marx, after all, was right: History does repeat itself, for the first time as tragedy and for the second time as farce.

Kofi Annan must be on his fourth or fifth repeat of history, but it is still farce.

When I saw the news report that he met with Bashar al-Assad today in Damascus to discuss a common approach to stop the fighting, and that he said the discussions were promising, I almost fell off my chair.

The premise of any such discussions would have to be that Bashar al-Assad’s agreement–to anything!–would have some significance.

But only a fool, or a government playing us all for fools, could accept such a proposition, in the face of the absolutely overwhelming evidence to the contrary that has accrued.

Does this man–the Envoy–have no shame?

Thousands and thousands of people have died because of the illusions he has fed to the U.N. Security Council and to the world, and the false hopes he has raised, helping Russia to block any effective Security Council action to halt the killing in Syria, or any effective action outside the framework of the Security Council itself that might halt the killing.

Is there a single person left in the thinking world who believes Kofi Annan is acting on behalf of anyone other than himself, the Russians, and even al-Assad himself?

Is there a single leader in the thinking world who will speak out, and shout from the rooftops:

“Get this man off the stage!”

The Trenchant Observer

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

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 use the “Search” Box or consult the information in the bottom right hand corner of the home page. The Articles on Syria page can also be found here. The Articles on Targeted Killings page can also be found here.

Oh, what a beautiful castle in the sky! Kofi Annan—the Illusionist, the moral cowardice of the world, and the end of the United Nations dream—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #58 (July 2)

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Kofi Annan, the ever-willing Illusionist, aided and abetted by the permanent members of the U. N. Security Council, has offered us one more castle in the sky at the Geneva Summit on Syria, on June 30, 2012.  The Summit was attended by the Permanent Members of the Security Council plus Turkey, Qatar, Iraq, and Kuwait. Iran was absent due to vehement U.S. objections, and presumably Saudi Arabia was not invited to balance the scorecard with the Russians.

Oh, and neither Syrian government officials nor the Syrian opposition attended.

The Superintendent of U.N. Properties, Ban Ki-moon, graciously made the facilities of the United Nations in Geneva available for the meeting.

What was the outcome?

Unanimity!

Unanimity was achieved again, as if on the proposition that all points on a circle are equidistant from the center!

Not to quarrel, the question of whether Bashar Al-Assad must leave power as part of the transitional government arrangements originally envisaged by The Illusionist, was left up in the air.

And fittingly so, since all of the pieces of this most beautiful palace in the sky are present and floating and circling above the world, like a pile of bricks in a land where there are no bricklayers and there is no mortar.

In its inner chambers, the new palace contains all the elements of the previous ones, including each and every one of Kofi Annan’s six points, informally endorsed by the Security Council first in its Presidential Statement on March 21, 2012 (which had no legal force), formally adopted by the Security Council in Resolution 2042 on April 14, and then once again reiterated in Resolution 2043, with the further adornment of some 300 unarmed monitors to observe compliance with the cessation of hostilities and other components of the 6-point plan, on April 21.

Like Russian dolls, each of the previous palaces contains within it the palace built before, and the one before that, and so on.

With this marvelous design, unity has been preserved–which is perhaps the greatest achievement of the summit.

All are agreed: All points on the circle are indeed equidistant from the center!

Now that work on this  beautiful  edifice has been completed, The Illusionist, together with Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and others they or The Illusionist may choose, will soon begin work on a bigger and even better Palace in the Sky, which like its predecessors will contain all palaces that have preceded it, like Russian dolls.

Outside the Palais des Nations in Geneva, some observers reported that they saw Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, as he was leaving, flash a big smile to well-wishers representing the Russian military and The KGB Boys.  Others told reporters they weren’t sure about Sergei Lavrov’s smile. The Chinese representative said he thought it might have been an illusion.

The venue was stunningly appropriate, as the Versailles Treaty had been signed in the very same Hall of Mirrors, in 1919.

Of course, the League of Nations failed when Italy invaded Ethiopia, a member of the League, in October 1935, and its last symbol collapsed under the treads of German tanks, in 1940, quite literally as the Third Reich seized the premises of the Permanent Court of International Justice in The Hague.

Does this history have anything to do with the Palace in the Sky, and the future of the United Nations?

One associates to Katherine Anne Porter’s brilliant novel, Ship of Fools (1962)–made into a movie of the same name in 1965.  Like the protagonist in the final scene of the movie, a dwarf who puffed on his cigar as he smiled and spoke, we can only answer,

“Nah, nothing at all.”

In the movie, the dwarf then chuckled ironically, turned, and walked down the gangplank.

The Trenchant Observer

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

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 use the “Search” Box or consult the information in the bottom right hand corner of the home page. The Articles on Syria page can also be found here. The Articles on Targeted Killings page can also be found here.

Putin plays hardball in Syria, uses Lavrov to distract gullible UN and international community—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #13 (March 20)

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

AP reporter Vladimir Isachenkov reported from Moscow a week ago that:

Russia has no intention of curtailing military cooperation with Syria despite calls from the West to stop arming President Bashar Assad’s regime, a senior Russian government official said Tuesday.

Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said Russia will abide by existing contracts to deliver weapons to Syria despite Assad’s yearlong crackdown on the opposition, in which over 7,500 people have been killed.

“Russia enjoys good and strong military technical cooperation with Syria, and we see no reason today to reconsider it,” Antonov told reporters.

(I)n January, a Russian ship allegedly carrying tons of munitions made a dash for Syria after telling officials in EU member Cyprus, where it had made an unexpected stop, that it was heading for Turkey. Turkish officials said the ship had instead charted course for Tartus.

Antonov said Russia’s supply of weapons to Syria is in line with international law and will continue. “Russian-Syrian military cooperation is perfectly legitimate,” he said.

“The only thing that worries us today is the security of our citizens,” Antonov said in a reference to Russian military personnel in Syria that are training the Syrians in the use of weapons supplied by Russia.

He declined to say how many of them are currently stationed in Syria.

“It’s part of our contractual obligations,” said Antonov, who oversees military technical cooperation with foreign countries. “When we supply weapons, we have to provide training.”

–Vladimir Isachenkov (AP), “Russia says it will keep selling weapons to Syria,” The Guardian, March 13 2012.

While Russia continues to furnish the weapons and ammunition that are being used by the Syrian regime to commit crimes against humanity and war crimes in Syria, and to train the Syrian military in the use of those weapons through Russian military personnel on the ground in Syria, Vladimir Putin is using Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to sound notes critical of al-Assad and indicating frustration with al-Assad’s approach to the opposition.

Obama and the West and the Arab countries of the Middle East hang on the hope that Kofi Annan may persuade al-Assad to slacken the pace of the slaughter of his opponents in Syria, and make a few concessions in the direction of humanitarian measures. Instead of a total ceasefire by the Syrian forces and a withdrawal of tanks from cities, as called for in the Arab League’s November 2, 2011 peace plan, their goal now is to have two hours a day of humanitarian relief access–while al-Assad’s murderous assault on his opponents, armed and unarmed, goes unchecked.

Let us keep our eyes on the ball: The Russian game has as its clear goals 1) the maintenance of Bashar al-Assad in power; 2) continued military-technical cooperation with Syria, including the continuing supply of arms and ammunition, and Russian trainers and training; 3) continued presence and operation of Russia’s naval base at the port of Tartus (Tartous); 4) continued maintenance in Syria of its communications and listening post for the region; and 5) presumably its continued use of Syria as a platform for clandestine operations in the Middle East.

Nothing Lavrov has said, or which the Security Council might agree to in a new resolution accepted by Russia and China, along the lines being discussed, will change the realities on the ground. Al-Assad will continue to control the game of what he will or will not allow the UN to do, which diverts attention from what his own military and security forces are doing every day throughout the country.

Moreover, a new resolution could make things worse, by establishing a Security Council commitment to leave al-Assad in power while he continues to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity, with strong and continued Russian and Chinese backing to block any meaningful action by the Security Council in the future.

Heads, Russia and al-Assad win.
Tails, the West, the Arab countries and the international community lose.

With any new Security Council resolution catering to the demands of Russia, what will be the chances that detainees in Syria will not be tortured and killed? What will be the chances that they will have fact-based charges brought against them, a right to an attorney, and a fair trial by an independent judiciary?

What prospects will there be for al-Assad and his henchmen to be brought to justice before an international court?

What kind of peaceful transition removing al-Assad from power will be possible as long as he is making the decisions? As long as he and his Russian backers are calling the shots?

The United States had better wake up and grasp the fact that Putin is out to play hardball–and not only in Syria–and that U.S.-Russian relations are not likely to return to a stable orbit until Obama demonstrates some resolve and pushes back.

U.S.-Russian relations may be in fact at an extremely dangerous point, as Putin, flush with his vistory at the polls and a new term as president before him, may have taken the measure of President Obama and could judge him lacking in resolve, much as Nikita Kruschev misjudged John F. Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs invasion in April, 1961 and after his meeting with Kennedy at the Vienna summit on June 4, 1961, making a colossal miscalculation by deciding to introduce nuclear missiles into Cuba. That decision led the world to the edge of the precipice of nuclear war–much closer to the edge than is commonly appreciated.

The UN “mediation” remains a gambit that plays to the Russians’ demands, and which even if successful, will leave al-Assad in power, free to unleash his military or security forces against anyone and everyone at will, with the real chances of a peaceful transition resulting from this process being close to nil.

The Trenchant Observer

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

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–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

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Annan fails in Damascus as Syrian army continues its onslaught—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #11 (March 11)

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

Predictably, Kofi Annan was rebuffed by Bashar al-Asad in talks in Damascus on March 10-11.  Inexplicably, Annan declared following his talks in Damascus that there exist grounds for “optimism”.

As the fighting continues in and around Idlib and in other parts of the country, it is difficult to see Annan’s mission as anything other than a smokescreen to obfuscate the abject failure of outside powers to intervene militarily to stop the killing.   In the judgment of Senator John McCain and many others, only such intervention can stop the Syrian military from their current slaughter of civilians as they seek to repress all opposition to the government.  Bashar al-Assad has labeled all of his opposition as “terrorists” and affirmed he will not negotiate with them. The Syrian opposition also rejects negotiations.

Annan’s grounds for optimism are hard to discern, if it refers to anything more than his continuing his mission–as Syria with Russian support proceeds with its rampage against civilians in towns where both unarmed and armed opposition have taken hold. By failing to establish a ceasefire as the only topic for discussion, Annan has in effect offered the Syrian Dictator and his Russian and Iranian backers  more time to “finish the job” of wiping out all opposition within the country through the use of terror and the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

On the diplomatic front, the foreign ministers of Russia, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany are due to meet for a Security Council meeting in New York on Monday (March 12), where Syria will undoubtedly be a principal topic of discussion.

For current developments on the ground, as well as the latest diplomatic moves, see:

Patrick J. McDonnell (reporting from Beirut), “Kofi Annan meets with Syria President Bashar Assad; “As tanks reportedly attack rebels in Idlib, the former U.N. chief holds talks in a bid to head off what world leaders fear could become a full-fledged civil war,” Los Angeles Times, March 11, 2012.

Lourival Sant’Anna (enviado especial), “Do lado turco da fronteira, rebeldes tramam o fim de Assad; Opositores sírios preparam-se para combater um inimigo determinado e mais forte,” O Estado de São Paulo, 10 de março de 2012 (17:42 h).

Enric González (Mokaibli, Líbano), “Siria se ha convertido en una cárcel; Menos de 30.000 civiles han logrado escapar del país; El control sobre la vigilancia de las familias de los oficiales impide la desintegración del Ejército,” El País, 10 de marzo de 2012 (21:40 CET).

Assocated Press (Beirut), “Kofi Annan leaves Syria after talks with Assad; Former UN secretary general says he offered Syrian president concrete proposals ‘which will have a real impact on the ground,’” The Guardian, March 11, 2012 (14:19 EDT). Article details diplomatic developments, including meeting in New York on March 12 with foreign ministers of U.S., U.K. Germany, and Russia.

Peter Beaumont, “Syria in turmoil: Assad launches fresh shelling of civilian housesKofi Annan’s ceasefire mission falters as the tanks roll in to besiege the city of Idlib,” The Guardian, March 10, 2012 (11.01 EST).

Jean-Jacques Mevel, “Syrie : les Occidentaux craignent l’enlisement,” Le Figaro, le 11 mars 2012 (21:34 h).

(Le Figaro), “Syrie : “l’armée poursuit son offensive, Annan «optimiste»,” Le Figaro, le 11 mars 2012, (acualisé à 17:39 h).

One final thought: For 60 years the Arab world has viewed developments in the Middle East primarily through the template or prism of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian issue. In 2011, an alternative narrative developed, which offers the possibility that in the future events in the region will be viewed through a lens that emphasizes human rights and the rule of law.

The response of the United States and other key Western countries to the ongoing terror in Syria may well have a determinative impact on the template through which the Arab world views the West in the future. This is ultimately what is at stake, in addition to our own sense of who we are and the kind of world in which we want to live.

The Trenchant Observer

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

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–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

***

Tanks roll in Idlib as Kofi Annan is rebuffed—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #10 (March 10)

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

As the sad spectacle of Kofi Annan’s “mediation” of the conflict proceeds, and the world’s attention is turned to what Russia, or Annan, or the U.S. or other countries are saying in their interminable diplomatic dance, it is of utter importance that we all follow the example of The Daily Star and keep our attention riveted on what is happening on the ground.

Let us all, together, focus primarily on that, on events on the ground. As Kofi Annan prepares to travel to Damascus on Saturday, March 10, tanks are surrounding Idlib, soldiers have been bussed to the area, and the new onslaught has already begun as tanks overrun villages in outlying areas. In the meantime, tanks and artillery continue to attack civilian neighborhoods in Homs. Undoubtedly, they are also on the move in other parts of Syria.
–The Trenchant Observer, “The Daily Star: “We procrastinate”—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #9 (March 9), March 9, 2012

The latest news reports from the region reveal that in his meeting with Special U.N. Envoy Kofi Annan on Saturday, March 10, Bashar al-Assad has in effect rejected Annan’s and Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s call for an immediate ceasefire, first by the Syrian government to be followed by the armed opposition. Annan hopes to meet with opposition leaders on the ground in Syria on Saturday evening, and to meet once again with Bashar al-Assad on Sunday before leaving Syria for further meetings in the region. Annan will meet with oppositon leaders in exile, including leaders of the Syrian National Council, after he has left Syria.

See

“Assad empfängt Annan mit noch mehr Blutvergießen,” Der Siegel, den 10. März 2012.

This is an excellent article on latest developments both on the ground and on the diplomatic front. It also contains a video report including footage of Annan meeting with Bashar al-Assad, and 17 photos. Der Spiegel articles in German are frequently published in the English edition (http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/), usually after a delay of several days. Readers should check back at the English web site periodically to see if the article cited here has been published in English.

Kareem Fahim, “No Talks With Syria Opposition, Assad Tells U.N. Envoy,” New York Times, March 10, 2010.

Le Monde/avec AFP, “Syrie: l’armée prend d’assaut la ville rebelle d’Idleb,” Le Monde, le 10 mars 2012 (18h55 h)

The Arab League and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov issued on Saturday a call for a new peace plan in Syria, which according to some accounts contained the following points:

In the end, the Arab League and Lavrov agreed on five points that could serve as the basis for a future U.N. Security Council resolution: an immediate cease-fire, a clause preventing foreign intervention, assurances about humanitarian aid and an endorsement of Annan’s mission.
The League’s backing down on previous demands for Assad to leave power appeared aimed at securing Russian support for a new resolution.
“Its not a perfect world,” League chief Nabil Elaraby said.
–Associated Press, “Syria assaults opposition as diplomacy staggers,” U.S. News and World Report, March 10, 2012.

However, the full text of the resolution, which is not widely available in English or other Western European languages on the web, should be made public and widely disseminated, so that independent observers can draw their own conclusions regarding what the resolution said about opposing outside intervention. The quote above may be based Lavrov’s statements. Prompt clarification is needed.

See also:

(Reuters/Beirut), “Assad rebuffs Annan as his troops hit Idlib,” Gulf Times, March 11, 2012.

Yasmine Saleh and Edmund Blair (Reuters/Africa), “UPDATE 3-Arabs urge Russia to back Syria peace plan,” Reuters/Africa, March 10, 2012 (4:06pm GMT).

TV5Monde/AFP (Damascus), “Syrie: assaut militaire sur Idleb, une nouvelle rencontre Annan-Assad dimanche,” le 10 mars 2012 (21:51 h).

Greg Miller and Karen DeYoung, “Syria’s Bashar al-Assad firmly in control, U.S. intelligence officials say,” Washington Post, March 9, 2012.

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The Washington Post’s coverage of events in Syria over the last two days (March 9 and 10) has been appalling, with only a report on March 9 quoting administration intelligence officials on how hard it would be to intervene militarily in Syria, which the latter view as firmly under al Assad’s control, and on March 10 only a short wire story on the momentous events underway in Syria. It appears that they have no one on the scene covering the story. U.S. coverage of foreign events has been growing weaker over recent years, but the idea that the Post could do so poorly in reporting on an issue of such importance is disheartening indeed. See The Trenchant Observer, “Our Dimming Vision of World Affairs”, January 2, 2010.

In contrast to the plan described in the reported March 10 Arab League statement, it will be recalled that the November 2, 2011 peace plan adopted by the Arab League provided for the following:

CAIRO: Syria has agreed to an Arab League plan to end the country’s crisis, in particular pledging to end repression of protests during which, according to the United Nations, more than 3,000 people have been killed since mid-March.

Following are the main points of the Arab plan:
1: – Complete halt to the violence, whatever its origin, to protect Syrian civilians.
2: – Release of people detained as a result of the recent events.
3: – Withdrawal of every type of military presence from towns and residential districts.
4: – Allow concerned organizations from the Arab League, Arab and international media to move freely throughout Syria and find out the reality of the situation.

According to the text of the plan, “after tangible progress is achieved by the Syrian government in applying the terms of the four preceding points,” the Arab ministerial committee will have contacts and consult with the government and various Syrian opposition bodies. The aim of these will be “to prepare a conference of national dialogue within two weeks.”
The plan does not stipulate the exact date for the military withdrawal nor when the two-week period should begin.
Arab diplomats say that Damascus wants the talks to take place in Syria, something the opposition categorically refuses.
The Arab League has suggested that initially the talks take place in Cairo.

–The Daily Star (Beirut), November 3, 2011.

In four months, estimates of the number killed in Syria have risen from 3,000 to 8,000 or 8,500. That is, while diplomats talked, and al-Assad proceeded with his murderous repression, some 5,000 or more people have died. That is the “collateral damage” which has resulted from inaction by the international community, what we like to think of as “the civilized world”.

As military leaders in Washington argue to Congress that any air attacks such as those called for by Senator John McCain on March 5 would involve the infliction of significant collateral damage and civilian casualties, they should bear in mind the collateral damage that inaction has already caused, and will certainly cause in the future until al-Assad is stopped.

The text of Senator John McCain’s speech of March 5, 2012 on the floor of the Senate can be found on his Senate web site here.

McCain’s speech is closely reasoned, and makes a very compelling case for immediate military intervention led by the U.S. to bring al-Assad’s ongoing of war crimes and crimes against humanity to a prompt halt. It is must reading.

As the interminable diplomatic dance proceeds, let us all keep our eyes fixed firmly on what is actually happening on the ground, as thousands of people are being slaughtered for the crime of insisting on their exercise of fundamental human rights.

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

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