Monday, April 9, 2012

Cynics in Syria

Even as Kofi Annan, the peace envoy from the Arab League and UN was meeting with President Assad in Damascus in late March, Syrian army shelled the northern town of Idlib, and continued its bloody siege of Homs.
Al, how many have you "pacified" today?
Last Thursday the U.N. statement raised the possibility of "further steps" if Syria doesn't implement the six-point peace plan outlined by Kofi Annan, who is also the previous UN Secretary General. Syria has agreed to accept Annan's peace plan on March 25th. It has promised to "immediately" start pulling troops out of protest cities on April 2nd. When the UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan announced the latest Assad's promise, Western nations quickly expressed doubts that the new promises would be kept.

They were right. In recent days, instead of preparing for a withdrawal, troops of the Syrian dictator al Assad have stepped up shelling attacks on residential areas, killing dozens of civilians every day in what the opposition described as a frenzied rush to gain ground. With the deadline looming, Syrian troops on Sunday pounded restive regions in the north and center of the country a day after activists said more than 100 people were killed across Syria.

"Mortar rounds are falling like rain," said activist Tarek Badrakhan, describing an assault in the central city of Homs on Sunday. He spoke via Skype as explosions were heard in the background. The regime is exploiting the truce plan "to kill and commit massacres," he said.

The Syrian regime scuttled the peace process, once again opting for lies to gain time. What will the UN do? The lives of Syrian civilians are on the line, as well as the credibility of UN itself.

Annan said in a statement on Sunday that "the present escalation of violence is unacceptable." What is truly unacceptable is for a joker like Annan to be charged with such a serious mission. After the failure of Arab League's observers in Syria to halt regime's violence, it was clear that only a tough and credible negotiator stood any chance of getting Assad to follow through on his promises.

Annan confronts the price of his failure in Rwanda.
Recall that Kofi Annan was implicated in helping Saddam Hussein violated the oil embargo. "Oil for food" panel rebuked Annan and mentioned corruption. Lastly, the genocide in Rwanda that resulted in a million deaths, happened when Annan was the head of peacekeeping at the UN. Was Annan planning to tell Assad: "While I failed a civilian population from the continent of my own birth, I plan to redeem himself by doing everything possible to ensure the safety of Syrian civilians."

Annan had no business going to Syria as a UN envoy unless he was prepared to say the above. I don't see that type of humanity fueled by humility in Annan. More importantly, it would not sound plausible to Assad. So, this entire expedition was a charade. A tacit agreement between UN and Syria to buy time. The Syrian government has been buying time for over a year, while the UN needs to appear to be attempting to do its job by resolving a rebellion with a negotiated settlement.

The UN's behavior is, therefore, disgraceful. Businessweek just wrote that UN faces a day of reckoning with it's delaying tactics. The scuttling of the Annan's deal was just the latest promise not to be kept by the Assad regime, so why was the UN playing into the hands of a pathological liar?

Just as Annan complained Sunday that the escalation was "unacceptable," Syria said its acceptance of the Annan deal last week was misunderstood and suggested it would not be able to withdraw its troops under current conditions, while killing another hundred.

Assad regime delayed the arrival of observers from the Arab League, then denied their purpose, in a similar way he played Annan. Assad toyed with the Arab League's demands, in the end all they got were lies intended to stall the Arab and Western opposition to his dictatorial rule.

Another fine example of Syrian behavior occurred during a recent "referendum"Syrian artillery pounded rebel-held areas of Homs as President Bashar al-Assad's government announced that voters had overwhelmingly approved a new constitution in a referendum derided as a sham by his critics at home and abroad.

The verdict the some regions there was unanimous: the box "in favor" (of the government) was circled, the box "opposed" was not. 

Those who are opposed were getting their just deserts -- the Syrian artillery has pounded restive voters for almost three weeks in Homs, killing hundreds. The bombardment of Homs was almost as long as the bombardment of Hama 30 years ago, when his father killed over 10,000 to pacify that city.

Assad encourages voting in referendum...
With sad predictability, Annan's peacemaking in Syria failed. In never really had the chance. Assad's new demands of 'written guarantees' were refused by the rebels. Annan has failed again, the diversion is over -- what now? Russia is still supplying Syria with weapons, while the Iranians are helping to smuggle Syrian oil to Europe.

The civil war in Syria shows no signs of abating.

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