Posts Tagged ‘Verbrechen Wider der Meschlichkeit’

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

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Today al-Assad’s forces reportedly killed 20 demonstrators in Khan Sheikhoun as UN monitors looked on.

See

Neil MacFarquhar and Hwaida Saad (Beirut), “U.N. Team Sees Clash Between Syrian Protesters and Soldiers,” New York Times, May 15, 2012.

They report the following:

BEIRUT, Lebanon — A convoy of unarmed United Nations monitors got caught up in a violent confrontation between protesters and Syrian government forces on Tuesday, with activist organizations putting the casualty toll at around 20 killed and dozens wounded.

The United Nations monitors escaped unscathed, but three of their four vehicles were damaged by some kind of explosive device, said a statement from Ahmad Fawzi, the spokesman for Kofi Annan, the United Nations and Arab League special envoy for Syria.

Eyewitnesses reached via Skype in Khan Sheikhoun, the town in the embattled northwestern province of Idlib where the confrontation took place, said that a large crowd had turned out for the funeral of a man killed by government forces two days earlier near Hama.

Meanwhile, there were clear signs that the government was manipulating the vote results from the parliamentary elections held on May 7. MacFarquhar and Saad note, in the same article,

“In Damascus, the government announced delayed results from the May 7 election for seats in Parliament, emphasizing what it said was a participation rate that exceeded 51 percent. But in broadcasting the results live on state television, Judge Khalaf al-Azzawi, the chairman of the higher committee for elections, avoided questions about the number of voters in embattled provinces like Homs or Idlib and refused to characterize the political affiliation of the new members.”

Free association: This delay is not much of a surprise as no one expected the elections to be honest in the first place.

But the fact that over a week has passed since the elections does bring to mind the great delay that has occurred with the publication of the State Department human rights reports, which by law were due by February 25.

Could this enormous delay be due to the fact that the Obama administration is massaging the reports for political reasons, contrary to the law’s intent?

On the basis of what we know, one must assume that this is the case. The House and Senate foreign relations committess should immediately convoke hearings for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to offer her excuses and explanations.

These reports are relevant to critical decision making by governments around the world. Their publication should not be delayed for another day.

What will it take for the international community to recognize that by sending more monitors to Syria, it is adding to Bashar al-Assad’s panoply of human shields? Those shields protect him from military action to force him to halt the killing. They also short-circuit the thinking processes of the leaders of all countries who still–at this late date–support the Security Council’s 6-point peace plan.

It is time to dismantle the Kofi Annan 6-point peace plan. UNSMIS should be put into lockdown until al-Assad complies with the conditions in the peace plan, and withdrawn if he doesn’t.

How can this be achieved?

USMIS can be stopped the same way the Arab peace monitor mission was stopped–by countries withdrawing their members, and refusing to send any additional members to the delegation. When the UNSMIS mission comes up for an extension at the end of 90 days, it should be blocked by a majority of the Security Council.

In over 60 years of peace observation and peacekeeping missions, the United Nations has never embarked on a mission so contrary to common sense, so contrary to analysis of the facts of the ground, and so devoid of promise. The mission should be aborted, immediately.

There is no peace to be monitored. A ceasefire, if it comes, will come as a result of a decision or decisions by al-Assad and his entourage, and not one day before.

The only thing that is likely to push the Syrian Dictator and his henchmen to reach such a decision is a credible threat of military intervention by outside powers, and the execution of that threat if the threat does not suffice.

Civilized nations should prepare for such military action at once.

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 consult the information in the bottom right hand corner of the home page. The Articles on Syria 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

***

–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

***

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

***

–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.

***

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

***