I’ve been to Syria, twice. Once, on a holiday from Lebanon. The second time, to escape war.
I’ll talk about the atrocities of Bashar Al-Assad’s regime that has, like the others who have fallen in the Middle East, erred insanely in assuming its own importance and slaughtering its own people to secure power. If you’ve got the nerve, look at these honest, bloody videos, purporting to be evidence that has the Arab League of Nations frantic to put a stop to this inhumane criminal activity. You’ll never see these in Western media.
The Qatari government and other heavy hitters including the Saudi leadership are working to prompt the United Nations Security Council to issue a resolution to ensure the removal of the now illegitimate Syrian president. Arab News in Saudi Arabia reports today:
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia expressed sadness on Monday at the rising number of civilian deaths because of government repression in Syria and stressed the need to stop the bloodshed.
The Kingdom’s statement came in the meeting of the Council of Ministers chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah at Yamamah Palace in Riyadh.
The council discussed the recent Arab League decision to end the observers’ task in Syria following the deepening of the crisis in the country, Minister of Social Affairs Yousuf Al-Othaimin, who is also acting minister of culture and information, said in a statement to the Saudi Press Agency after the weekly meeting of the council.
King Abdullah briefed the council on the discussions and messages received from world leaders. The king received a message from Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and a telephone call from Moroccan King Muhammad VI over the past week.
The council reviewed a communiqué of the meeting between the GCC and Turkey, which emphasized strong relations between the two sides as a major factor in maintaining peace and stability in the region.
A joint communiqué of the ministers agreed “international efforts should be focused on bringing the bloodshed in Syria to an immediate end and paving the way for the initiation of a political transition process in line with the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Syrian people.”
Yes. And Russia is threatening already to veto the UN Security Council Resolution to force Bashar Al-Assad out of the Syrian presidency…because Syria is Russia’s closest Middle Eastern ally. The Guardian newspaper reports again today, via British Prime Minister David Cameron, the appalling numbers: 5000 dead in the last year of violence including 400 children. The latest developments regarding the UN Resolution discussions are well summarized.
• Foreign ministers have gathered at the UN headquarters in New York to show support for an Arab-Western resolution to end the violence in Syria and to try to overcome Russian-led opposition to a demand political change in Damascus. Diplomats said a vote was likely by Thursday, after the council considers a report by the Arab League secretary general, Nabil Elaraby, and the Qatari prime minister, Hamad Bin Jassim, followed by an ambassadors’ meeting on Wednesday aimed at finding a compromise formula acceptable to Russia, Assad’s principal supporter. The opposition Syrian National Council backed a resolution calling for Assad to go.
• The draft resolution calls on Bashar al-Assad to hand power to his deputy but insists there will be no use of foreign forces in the country, according to AP. It says the Assad regime should immediately put “an end to all human rights violations and attacks against those exercising their rights to freedom of expression.”
• Russia has repeated its opposition to the resolution. Deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov said it would not lead to compromise and that pushing for it “is a path to civil war”.
• French foreign minister Alan Juppe has confirmed western doubts that Russia can be persuaded to back the draft resolution.“We’re blocked by a number of countries, mainly Russia, which opposes every resolution (on Syria),” he told Europe 1 radio. US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said the US was “willing to go through the process” of trying to win backing for the proposals. David Cameron accused Russia of “shielding those with blood on their hands”.
• The opposition Syrian National Council has called for a day of “anger and mourning” after activists said up to 100 people, mostly civilians, were killed on Monday, making it one of the bloodiest days of the uprising. The majority of the reported deaths were in Homs, with the Local Co-ordination Committees putting the number of people killed in the central province on Monday at 76. Several activist groups, including the LCC, reported the discovery of the bodies of a family of six in their home in Karm al-Zeitoun, in Homs. Activists say they were tortured by the Shabiha (pro-Assad militia) before being executed.
• Government forces have moved into the two remaining eastern suburbs of the capital still in reblel hands, activists say. “Intense shooting was heard in Zamalka and Arbeen as the tanks advanced,” the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, citing its network of sources on the ground. Regime forces made sweeping arrests in the nearby town of Rankous, which has been under siege for a week, activists said. The LCC has described the eastern suburbs of the capital as a “disaster area” and called for the Red Crescent and Red Cross to be allowed in. It named 39 people it said had been killed in eastern Ghouta. The state news agency said security forces “killed big numbers of terrorists and caught many others”. It claimed the “terrorists” were armed with US and Israeli made weapons.
• Military defectors have taken full control of al-Rastan in Homs, after days of intense clashes, an activist told AP. Defectors claimed on Monday to have destroyed nine tanks and the political security bureau in al-Rastan. A video was posted online, purportedly showing the operation. The town has been seized by defectors twice in the past, only to be retaken by Syrian troops.
12.46pm: The Associated Press says it has seen the draft United Nations resolution on Syria.
It says it calls on Bashar al-Assad to to delegate his “full authority to his deputy” to allow a national unity government to lead transition to a democratic system.
It also calls on Assad’s regime to immediately put “an end to all human rights violations and attacks against those exercising their rights to freedom of expression.”
The text, the drafting of which has been led by Morocco, insists it does not compel “states to resort to the use of force, or the threat of force”.
12.17pm: Burhan Ghalioun, leader of the opposition Syrian National Council, has called on the UN to denounce the Assad regime.
As usual, politically wrangling takes place while lives are lost. How sad. Russia is threatening to veto any resolution that demands the President of Syria step down, because this action will supposedly lead to civil war. Another 100 people died in Syria yesterday. I’d say the ‘civil war’ is underway now. How many people will die from the Syrian army’s grossly corrupt actions tomorrow?
We’ll never know all the individual stories of this increasingly brutal action of the Syrian government, and surely there are and were atrocities committed in revenge. But a scan of YouTube takes me to this: one that makes me want to rage against ‘the machine’ for not stopping the bloodshed before now:
It is not the Syria I saw in April 2006, when I grabbed a $10 seat in a share taxi from Beirut, Lebanon to get the Syrian capital of Damascus, for a holiday. Those days are gone. I’ll tell that story another day.