So long as the debate over Syria still revolves around the issue of whether to intervene rather than how to intervene, delusion will continue to rule the day and disaster will keep inching its way to fulfillment.
Friday June 01, 2012 – A day dedicated to the children of Houla
Today’s death toll: 50. The Breakdown: 21 in Damascus and suburbs including 2 children who were summarily executed, 12 in Homs province including 3 children and 1 defected soldier, 6 in Aleppo including 3 children, 4 in Daraa including 2 women, 3 in Idlib including 1 child, 3 in Hama and 1 in Deir Ezzor.
The Syrian Chargé d’Affaires in Yemen announces
his defection and support for the Syrian Revolution.
Op-Eds & Special Reports
Leaked video shows tanks driven by pro-Assad militias crushing the body of a local activist in Al-Barrah
Village, Idlib Province http://youtu.be/eX5rU_DBFAY
What needs to be done is quite straightforward: Under the auspices either of NATO or a coalition of the willing, Washington should pursue air strikes against select targets, especially the columns of tanks and heavy artillery that are bombing restive towns indiscriminately.
The U.S. and its allies should provide arms to local resistance fighters, enabling them to secure their communities. They should create safe havens across the Turkish and Jordanian borders. And they should encourage high-level defections by offering amnesty to Assad’s key military, security and political figures.
Washington should build a coalition of peacekeepers who can maintain order in the country, and work with opposition groups to piece together an interim governing body that can take over once Assad’s regime has fallen.
It won’t be easy, and it won’t be cheap, but the cost of non-intervention will be much higher.
Comment: If the Russian Church truly wants to protect Syria’s Christian communities, then removing Assad should be Item Number 1 on its agenda, for it is Assad and his family who have paved the way to the current situation and it is their dabbling with Al-Qaeda that brought it to our backyard. Putin and his advisers know that pretty well, and could have informed the patriarch of the Russian Church. Instead, they play them like puppets and motion them to express for Assad and his regime. But, the naivety and/or duplicity of Russian patriarchs notwithstanding, one thing should be clear: Putin and his advisers care as much about the future of Christians in Syria as they do about the concerns, aspirations and basic rights of Russia’s own opposition groups.
Putin’s gambit is clear and simple: he wants to rebuild the foregone imperial prestige of the good old Soviet Union even at the expense of our aspirations for freedom. And yes, many of the experts I met during my recent visit to Moscow reiterated elements of the argument
What if the line in the sand that Mr Putin wants to draw is not about Russia’s prestige and role in the Security Council? What if his plan is far grander: halting, at the gates of Damascus, what he sees as the green tide of Sunni Islamism stretching from Morocco, through North Africa and the Levant to Turkey and thence almost to Russia’s unstable southern border? If that is the case then to prosecute a civil war in Syria, far from being a disaster, is both necessary and desirable – like the one he fought in Chechnya.
Meanwhile, Putin’s dear old friend, Bashar Assad, continues to unleash his thugs so they can bombard the churches of Old Homs
and to prevent a Christian family in Damascus from holding a proper funeral
for her martyred son. After all, he was killed while documenting the atrocities of pro-Assad thugs.
“Defections in Deir Ezzor City and surrounding areas have increased dramatically over the last few days,” said Ammar Abdulhamid in his daily Syrian Revolution Digest. “Most of the city and the larger province seems to have fallen under the control of the local resistance.”
Abdulhamid, who has been a leading pro-democracy activist in exile from his native Syria, also commented in an email, “Increased death and suffering with an end-game in sight is something most Syrians would accept at this stage, because by now the only choice we have is to get to the other side no matter how high the cost will be. It’s the combination of death and abandonment that fuels extremism and kills hope.”
Abdulhamid also reported that authorities and pro-Assad militias in Damascus prevented a funeral for the Christian activist Bassil Shahada in order to avoid what he called “an embarrassing show of anti-Assad sentiments” by the city’s large Christian community. “Assad and his supporters are still trying to portray the revolution as an exclusively radical Sunni phenomenon, but, in truth, discontent with Assad rule is endemic to all communities in Syria,” Abdulhamid said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that she would talk about Syria during Putin’s visit, which had been scheduled to focus on economics. “A disaster is taking place in Syria, and we will do everything we can to alleviate the suffering of the people,” Merkel told reporters in Stralsund, Germany. “There’s growing demand to do something,” said Stefan Kornelius, foreign editor of the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung. “But nobody knows what that something would be.”
Despite the violent crackdown, hundreds of rallies took place across the country, even in Houla and many other communities that have witnessed massacres and still witness bombardments and attacks by pro-Assad militias and death squads.