Next steps in Syria: End UNSMIS observer mission, and send Kofi Annan home. Also, begin prosecutions of war criminals, and prepare for possible military action—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #60 (July 10)

Latest News and Opinion

Editorial, “Annan’s failure” (Kofi Annan’s return to Damascus Sunday evening adds insult to injury after his admission over the weekend that his peace plan for Syria has failed), The Daily Star, July 9, 2012.

Raniah Salloum, “Annans Syrien-Mission: Das Palaver-Prinzip’; Kofi Annan will in Syrien weitermachen wie bisher – auch wenn Machthaber Baschar al-Assad keinen einzigen Punkt des Friedensplans umsetzt. Es ist nicht das erste Mal, dass Annan sich von einem arabischen Tyrannen vorführen lässt,” Der Spiegel, 10 Juli 2012.

“Russland schickt Kriegsschiffe nach Syrien; Der U-Boot-Zerstörer “Admiral Tschabanenko” und mehrere weitere Schiffe sollen sich auf dem Weg zum Stützpunkt Tartus befinden,” Die Presse (Wien), 10 Juli 2012.

Seth J. Frantzman, “Is Annan an accomplice to murder in Syria? The appointment of Annan sent a clear message to Assad that a representative was being sent who would provide cover for increased repression, ” Jerusalem Post, 10 July 2012.

End UNMIS Observer Mission, and Send Kofi Annan Home

Fortunately, there is cause for hope in Syria. It is theoretically possible that the UNSMIS observer mission will not be renewed, and that Kofi Annan will be sent home.

The UNSMIS authorization expires July 20. Any Security Council Permanent Member can block an extension by simply voting “no”. That means that either France or the U.K., or the U.S., acting alone, can end the observer mission, which has failed.

Talk of having truce observers act as mediators instead of observing the non-existent truce, is rubbish. It is time to get these courageous men and women out of harm’s way.

Kofi Annan’s ill-conceived and ill-starred mission as the joint Arab League and United Nations Special Envoy for Syria should end at the same time.

He is a loose cannon, now off to Iran to involve the Iranians in the Syrian question and its solution. Such efforts are directly contrary to U.S. policy and U.S. interests, and also those of Europe, NATO, and the Arab states.

Annan’s bias against the United States has been evident since his first news conference in Cairo, around March 10, when he assured the public his job was to prevent the  use of military force by some outside countries “as has unfortunately happened in the past.” The emotional intensity in his eyes and his voice when he spoke these words was unmistakable.

Many thousands in Syria have died because of the way Annan has defended the Russians’ and the Syrians’ interest in delay–with no external action to halt the killing. He has constantly fed false hopes and illusions to the Security Council and to the world.

His “mediation” with al-Assad, as the latter continued to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity, has achieved nothing. Absolutely nothing.

It is time for him to leave the stage. Whatever the next new scheme may be that he comes up with, whatever new castle in the sky he may be building, he must be shown the door.

Refocus on Halting and Punishing the Commission of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity

Instead of listening to Kofi Annan–for one second longer, what the international community should be focusing on are actions based on bedrock principles of international law:

1) the Syrian regime must immediately cease its commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other violations of fundamental human rights; and

2) those responsible for the commission of war crimes or crimes against humanity should be held accountable, either pursuant to a Security Council referral and grant of jurisdiction to the International Criminal Court (ICC), or as the result of prosecutions carried out in individual countries which have legislation authorizing the exercise of “universal jurisdiction” over individuals charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity and other international crimes.

Should Russia or China veto a Security Council resolution granting such jurisdiction to the ICC, under a Chapter VII resolution, then countries willing to support such prosecutions by individual states should make arrangements for the sharing of information and expenses necessary to proceed with these prosecutions in an expeditious manner. The first investigations should be launched at once.

In addition, if the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Syrian regime continues, a “coalition of the willing” should be formed to undertake such military action as may be required to halt these atrocities, at the earliest possible moment.

In sum, it is time to both end the UNSMIS mission in Syria, and to remove Kofi Annan from the stage. It is time to begin prosecutions against those accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is time to form a “coalition of the willing” to bring the ongoing commission of such crimes to a halt, by the use of military force if so required–with or without Security Council authorization.

The Trenchant Observer.

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