Tag: Bashar Assad

What About Syria?

Cross posted fromThe Stars Hollow Gazette

Can the world stop the brutal crackdown in Syria?

Up with Chris Hayes panelists Colonel Jack Jacobs, MSNBC military analyst; Karam Nachar, an activist who has been working with opposition leaders in Syria; Jeremy Scahill of The Nation magazine; and Josh TreviƱo of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, discuss the international community’s inability to reach a consensus on how to stop President Bashar Al-Assad’s crackdown on protests in Syria.

In the second segment, the panel discusses whether civil war is inevitable in Syria, and whether there’s anything the United States and the world can do to stop it.

Should the US intervene to stop a civil war in Syria?

Syria’s President Bashar Assad, who took over power from is father in 2000, denied that government forces took part in last week’s gruesome Houla massacre and is accusing outsiders for fueling terrorists and extremist in the unrest that started 14 months ago.

In his hourlong address, Mr. Assad offered no specific response to Mr. Annan’s plea for bold steps to end the conflict.

Instead he repeated many of his earlier pledges to maintain a crackdown on opponents he described as terrorists added by interfering foreign governments and he again offered to sit down with opposition figures who have avoided armed conflict or outside backing.  [..]

Last month’s massacre in Houla of 108 people, mostly women and children, triggered global outrage and warnings that Syria’s relentless bloodshed – undimmed by Mr. Annan’s April 12 cease-fire deal – could engulf the Middle East.

Western powers have accused Syrian forces and pro-Assad militia of responsibility for the May 25 Houla killing, a charge Damascus has denied.

On Saturday, fighting killed 89 people, including 57 soldiers

The casualties also included 29 civilians and three army defectors killed in various regions of the country in shelling by regime forces or in clashes or gunfire, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Asked about the high number of troops killed in recent days, the Observatory’s Rami Abdel-Rahman told AFP: “This relates to the sharp increase in clashes across the country. Troops are vulnerable to heavy losses because they are not trained for street battles and are therefore exposed to attacks.”

France has stated that it will not intervene in military action unless it is sanctioned by the United Nations:

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told an Asian security summit Sunday that the international community should increase sanctions and pressure in an effort to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad. An anti-government uprising has raged for more than a year in Syria.

The conflict is now spreading cross boarder into Lebanon with some heavy fighting in Lebanon:

Bloody clashes between pro- and anti-Syrian regime fighters raged on early Sunday in Tripoli, Lebanon, a day after the deadliest outburst of violence there in recent weeks indicated Syria’s turmoil continues spilling across borders.

Twelve people were killed and about 50 were wounded in fighting on Saturday, the state-run National News Agency reported. [..]

Clashes in both nations pit Sunnis, who make up the majority of the Syrian opposition and population, against Alawites and other Shiites, who are dominant in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

There is no easy solution.

The Crisis In Syria

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

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.

Crooks & Liars” blogger Nicole Belle had a good analysis of the nuanced of the split that Scahill and Slaughter honed in on:

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.

Agreed, Nicole