(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
The Syrian uprising has been going on for a year, centered around the city of Homs, which has been brutally shelled by the Syrian army for weeks. The city has been isolated with nothing and no one allowed in or out. A brief cease fire Friday was arranged by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent allowed for the evacuation of only 27 of the hundreds of wounded in Homs, and did not include the two injured journalists. Negotiations are continuing to get humanitarian aid into Homs and other cities that have some under attack by the army. There was also a failed effort to remove the bodies of Marie Colvin, 56, a U.S. citizen who wrote for the Times of London, and Remi Ochlik, 28, a French photographer, who were killed in the shelling last week.
Amidst the fighting, the Syrian government held a referendum to approve a new constitution which had been offered up as a solution for reform. According to the Syrian press it was approved by nearly 90% of those who voted. The new charter was dismissed by Western diplomats as “too little, too late” as demands continued for the resignation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“The referendum vote has fooled nobody,” British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in Brussels on Monday as European foreign ministers tightened economic sanctions, including limits on transactions by Syria’s central bank, a ban on Syrian cargo flights into Europe and travel restrictions on several senior officials.
“To open polling stations but continue to open fire on the civilians of the country has no credibility in the eyes of the world,” he said.
The crisis in Syria and the Middle East was discussed by a panel of experts moderated by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on his show Up with Chris. The discussion was held by guests Puffin Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute Jeremy Scahill; founder of Women for Women International Zainab Salbi; former speechwriter for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Elise Jordan; and former director of policy planning for the U.S. Department of State Ann-Marie Slaughter. Mr. Scahill and Ms. Slaughter got into an intense debate over whether the United States should intervene militarily and the US relationship with Yemen’s brutal government.
Former White House Director of Policy Planning Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote an op-ed last week for the NY Times which called for the “humanitarian” need to protect Syrians from slaughter by creating “no-kill” zones and arming members of the resistance [..]
But Jeremy Scahill, who has written some of the best and conventional wisdom-challenging journalism about the Middle East, thinks this is just more of the same short term thinking that gets the US in trouble again and again. And there’s good arguments for both (though I fall short of Slaughter’s op-ed. There’s no evidence that Syria poses a threat to the US at all and the vague allusions to Al Qaeda is eerily reminiscent of Bush administration-era scare-mongering) and certainly, the desire to intervene against such horrifying examples of brutality is understandable. [..]
Bottom line: while there is nothing more horrifying than the violence we hear happening under Assad and I think Scahill is probably closer to the truth than Slaughter in terms of there being manifestly a civil war under way. But it cannot be the US interfering to decide the outcome for the Syrians. We cannot afford another open-ended, nebulous deployment that only causes resentment among the citizenry.