Posts Tagged ‘Ruth Sherlock’

If Russia vetoes a Security Council resolution on Syria, then what? — Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update # 64 (July 17)

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

We are at a potential decision point on Syria. A draft resolution presented by France, the U.K., the United States and Germany, extending the UNSMIS observer mission for 45 days and calling for sanctions under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter if al-Assad does not withdraw his heavy weapons from towns within ten days, appears headed for an up or down vote.

See Ruth Sherlock (Beirut) and Adrian Blomfield (Middle East Correspondent), “Syrian rebels launch campaign to ‘liberate’ Damascus; Syrian rebel commanders on Tuesday night claimed to have launched a military campaign to “liberate” Damascus as the city echoed to the sound of gunfire for a third day and fighting came close to the country’s parliament building,” The Telegraph, July 17, 2012.

Alex Spillius (Diplomatic Correspondent), “Syria United Nations vote delayed; A crucial vote on Syria at the United Nations has been delayed as Western countries make a last ditch bid to persuade Russia to threaten Bashar al-Assad with tough sanctions,” The Telegraph, July 17, 2012.

Russia has said it will block the resolution.

It may well do so, as President Putin proceeds to ride the Bashar al-Assad regime down to flaming defeat, helping to set a template in the Arab world in which Russians will be viewed as the enemies of the Arab Spring and all it stands for, for generations.

It is absolutely important that the sponsors of the resolution not back down, and not cave in to Russia’s demand for an extension of UNSMIS and Kofi Annan’s mission with no consequences for al-Assad if he displays continued defiance.

Over 10,000 people have been killed since Russia and China vetoed a relatively bland draft resolution on February 4, 2012. Weakening the current draft resolution to get Russia and China on board should not be done if they are only to board a still-sinking ship.

Another toothless resolution will, like the last five months of Security Council paralysis and illusions, serve no purpose other than allowing thousands more to die.

Should the Russians (one almost writes “Soviets”) veto the resolution, what should its proponents and supporters then do?

The Observer offers the following suggestions:

1.  Let UNMIS lapse.

It is not capable of providing widespread observation of what is going on in Syria, due to its limited numbers, the government’s ability to control its movements, and its inability to operate to monitor a truce when there is no truce but rather a raging civil war–when it has been targeted and fired upon repeatedly and subjected to the actions of hostile mobs orchestrated by al-Asad.

2.  Do not extend or expand Kofi Annan’s mandate as Joint Special Envoy.

The Arab League should speak to the members of the Security Council, the General Assembly, and the civilized nations of the world with its own voice.  It should not surrender its role in history, for another day, to Kofi Annan or anyone else.  The Arab states need a voice, and have much to bring to the table.  They cannot do this with Annan speaking for them.

The sooner Kofi Annan is shown the exit, the better.  His mega-personality and vainglorious view of himself sucks up all of the attention of the world’s media, drowning out other potentially constructive voices as well as those of witnesses to the atrocities al-Assad is committing–every day.

If his mission is to continue at all, it should be conditioned on his not speaking to the press or the media.

If it continues, his mission should be a silent one.  Let him mediate and report to the Security Council, without manipulating world opinion at every step of the way for the benefit, as it turns out, of the Russians and the Bashar al-Assad regime.

Let his efforts to build another bureaucratic empire in Geneva for himself, as a kind of second Secretary General’s office, lapse when the funding lapses, or sooner if a method can be found to halt this boondoggle.

Send Kofi Annan home.  His efforts as a mediator have produced nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

3.  Let attention turn away from the Security Council, where effective action is blocked by Russia.  Develop and pursue alternative strategies outside of the framework of the Security Council.

4.  Such alternate strategies should include, as a high priority, the formulation of an economic aid package, including humanitarian assistance, which the civilized countries of the world will provide to the people of Syria, once the leaders currently committing atrocities have been removed from the scene.

These leaders should be brought to justice, whether sooner or later–whether through a referral to the International Criminal Court, prosecution within Syria in the future, or through prosecution in individual countries exercising “universal jurisisdiction” over international crimes, in accordance with their own domestic legislation.

5.  A second alternate strategy would be to begin developing a “truth and reconciliation process” which may offer some prospect to soldiers and even officers that, in exchange for full cooperation with a “truth and reconciliation commission” and admission of their wrongful actions, they might be pardoned or receive lighter punishments than would otherwise be possible.

This effort (including both points 4 and 5) could be pursued within and with the support of the United Nations General Assembly. Detailed plans and sequences could be developed, with pledges of financial support from different countries–and other institutions. The idea would be to develop a concrete vision of the reconstruction of Syria, including sources of funding and specific measures to revive the economy. As this vision including the corresponding pledges of financial support takes shape, it is likely to become an attractive alternative to the al-Bashar regime, which promises only destruction and ruin.

It will be useful to shift the world’s attention, and that of those caught up in the struggle in Syria, to the future–to a future which lies on a path leading to atonement and reconciliation.

Somehow, some day, the Syria which Bashar al-Assad has done so much to destroy will have to be put back together, and rebuilt–both in material and in human terms  It is not too early to focus on this aspect–the construction of the future.

Thinking about the construction of the future, and taking concrete steps towards its realization, may in fact serve as critically important means of moving forward through and beyond the terrible present.

Of course, miltary action may at some point also be required, e.g. if al-Assad were to start using chemical weapons or other WMD–or to start selling such weapons to terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and its affiliates. It is also possible that once outside countries focus on the realities of Syria and its risks, instead of the illusions and castles in the sky generated by Kofi Annan, they may decide to use military force to halt the killing and to organize an orderly transition–with or without Security Council authorization.

The Trenchant Observer

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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.


Into the Abyss: Washington’s Fecklessness, Syria’s Fate—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #20 (March 30)

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Latest News Reports and Opinion

Reuters reports from Beirut,

(Reuters) – Syrian artillery hit parts of Homs city and at least 37 people were killed in clashes around Syria on Friday, opposition activists said, as peace envoy Kofi Annan told President Bashar al-Assad his forces must be first to cease fire and withdraw.
–Erika Solomon and Douglas Hamilton (Beirut), “Syrian army must pull back first under Annan plan, Reuters, March 30, 2012 (2:15pm EDT).

The Syria conflict and the United States’ failure to develop and execute an effective policy to deal with the atrocities in Syria is likely to spill over into international efforts to halt the development of a nuclear weapons capability in Iran, as suggested by Turkish Prime Minister’s reported statements to Khamanei in Tehran.

See Elad Benari. “Khamenei: Syria’s Anti-Israel, So We’ll Defend It; Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tells Turkish PM Erdogan: Iran will defend the Syrian regime due to its anti-Israeli stance, Arutz Sheva (7), March 30, 2012 (www.israelinationalnews.com).

The Telegraph provides an overview of the situation at the end of the day in London:

Ruth Sherlock (Beirut), “Syria activists lose hope that they will unseat Bashar al-Assad; Syrian activists were losing hope of unseating President Bashar al-Assad from power as regime troops continued to attack dwindling rebel strongholds, ignoring international demands for a ceasefire,” The Telegraph, March 30, 2012 (7:39PM BST).

Der Spiegel, which has consistently provided up-to-date and comprehensive reporting on events on the ground in Syria, describes the impact of “Annan’s deadly peace plan” including its fatal flaws and its effects on the ground:

See Ulrike Putz (Beirut), “Annans tödlicher Friedensplan; Syriens Rebellen toben, Experten sind entsetzt: Der Uno-Friedensplan von Kofi Annan bringt dem Assad-Regime vor allem jede Menge Zeit, um im Land weiter zu morden und zu foltern. Am Ende könnte der Diktator sogar im Amt bleiben – die Opposition will das mit Gewalt verhindern, ” 30 März 2012.

Regarding Obama’s posture toward Russia as revealed in Seoul, see Charles Krauthammer, “The ‘flexibility’ doctrine,” The Washington Post, March 29, 2012. Krauthammer quotes the audio picked up at the open microphone incident, as follows:

“On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it’s important for him [Vladimir Putin] to give me space. . . . This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”
— Barack Obama to Dmitry Medvedev, open mike, March 26

Analysis

What can be added to what has been written before? See the Articles on Syria page.

Obama is determined not to get involved in Syria in an election year, “regardless of the consequences”.

He is not moved, not moved to action, by seeing thousands of Syrians killed by al-Assad’s forces, with dozens and sometimes hundreds of new victims added to the list each day.

He supported the Kofi Annan plan, which in effect prevented potential pressures on the ground against al-Assad, while providing a smokescreen behind which the United States could hide its feckless failure to act to halt the killing. Worse than that, the Annan plan thwarted the efforts of others–Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, in particular–from providing arms to Syrian citizens with which they could defend themselves against the onslaught of a modern army and state security apparatus, and from establishing a safety zone inside Syria to which they could retreat to escape the killing.

The response of the U.S. and others to events in Syria is worse than Srebrenice, because the events have unfolded in slow motion and the United States has had plenty of time to think, to react, and to act to stop the killing.

Now the world can draw its own conclusions about the current leadership of the United States, which as we have pointed out has a foreign policy without a moral core.

The saddest thing is that we can now also draw our conclusions about Barack Obama, and the kind of foreign policy “leader” he really is.

He has bungled our exit from Iraq, and further embroiled us in a hopeless war to uphold a corrupt dictator and political elite in Afghanistan, a narco-state.

He has also thrown international law to the wind as he pursues the defense of the United States by enhancing and using the capabilities of drones and special operations forces to simply kill our perceived enemies, throughout many countries in the world.

In doing so, with no vision of peace and no credibility in appealing for the support of the populations of allied countries to undertake joint endeavors based on shared moral values and principles, including those embodied in international law, he has given the world a prospect of endless war–without the moderating force of law.

He is who he is.

And we are who we are. In the United States, we have a vote in the upcoming presidential elections. For some of us, who find the domestic programs of the Democrats far more sensible than those put forward by Republican candidates in the presidential primaries, and who are gravely concerned about the future composition of the Supreme Court, the presidential elections in November, 2012 are shaping up to present a wrenching choice.

In the meantime, we–and the Syrians demonstrating and fighting for a democratic government which guarantees the protection of their fundamental human rights–must look elsewhere for leadership to halt the commission of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other grave violations of human rights in Syria.

The Trenchant Observer

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

For links to other articles by The Trenchant Observer on this topic, and others, click on the title at the top of this page to go to the home page, and then consult the information in the bottom right hand corner of the home page. The Articles on Syria page can also be found here.