Huffpost UK uk
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Nehad Ismail Headshot

Who Is Backing the War Criminals of Damascus?

Posted: Updated:

No prizes for guessing the right answer. China and Russia are the culprits. China is wavering and may change its stance in the coming weeks. But Moscow is still determined to fight on. It has recently defended the shipment of arms to the Damascus regime which is committing crimes against humanity in violation of Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

A New York Times editorial Friday 20 January urged world leaders to redouble efforts to force Bashar al-Assad out.

Russia is still refusing to condemn the war crimes committed by the Syrian regime. The Security Council seems impotent to act to stop the massacres perpetrated by Bashar Al Assad's thugs against the pro-democracy protesters. Middle East watchers are warning of civil war and chaos. The Arab League mission has failed to stop the killing machine of the Syrian regime. On average 25 civilians are killed daily by Bashar al Assad Security forces. Since the arrival of the Arab League monitors some four weeks ago, more than 500 people have been killed. The head of the mission Lt. Colonel Mohamed Al-Dabi is a Sudanese officer implicated in war crimes in Darfur. Arab newspapers are accusing the Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al Arabi of collusion with the Syrian regime.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon, called for the world to stand together to address a crisis that that cost thousands of lives.

In an interview with An-Nahar, a Lebanese daily, Ki-moon said he had repeatedly appealed to Assad to stop the bloodshed and listen to his people but that he had received only empty promises.

He said the Security Council must speak with one voice in seeking an end to the crisis, but Moscow renewed its opposition to Western calls for tougher action by the world body.

Over 6,500 Syrians have been killed since15 March 2010 when the uprising started against the 41 year brutal Baathist regime. The regime's brutality had led to large scale defection by army units. Some 35,000 soldiers have now joined the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

The regime is still blaming foreign powers, Islamists, the media and Arab countries. In his long, belligerent and boring speech, Bashar al-Assad has failed to offer any initiatives except to promise more iron fist action against the protesters whom he labelled as "terrorists".

In October, Russia and China vetoed a draft resolution that would have condemned the Assad regime. Russia is opposed to the establishment of safe no-fly zones which means that Russia is explicitly supporting the war-crimes committed by the regime. Sergei Lavrov the Russian Foreign Minister blamed the opposition. Back in August 2011, Lavrov said that his country will not permit the Libyan scenario to be repeated in Syria.

Russia is deploying naval military ships in the Mediterranean in an apparent gesture of support for the Assad's regime. Some analysts believe that Russia is worried about its heavy investments in Syria. Russia had invested some $30 billion in energy and tourism infrastructure and it has a naval base in the Syrian coastal city of Tartous. Experts believe that that Russia rejects international intervention to remove unacceptable regimes from power.

Russia fears that one day the international community might act against one of its client states in the old Soviet Union.

Last month Navi Pillay the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said that she recommended that the council refers the Syrian regime to the International Criminal Court, the permanent war crimes tribunal, for investigation of possible crimes against humanity.

US ambassador Susan Rice said Pillay's briefing "underscores the urgency of the present moment." But no concrete action of any sort has been forthcoming. If Navi Pillay was right, then the obvious conclusion is that Russia is defending war criminals and is saying to the people of Syria "war crimes are okay" and you have to accept al Assad's rule whether you like it or not.

The representatives of France, Britain and Portugal also said it was time for the council to take strong action on Syria.

But Syria is refusing to budge counting on the support of China and Russia in the Security Council. We all know that China and Russia are not really interested in human rights, democracy and the protection of civilians against tyrannical rulers especially if such rulers are friendly to Beijing and Moscow.

In January 2007, Russia and China vetoed a resolution against the Burmese military junta in Myanmar. In July 2008, both Russia and China rejected sanctions against the Robert Mugabe's odious regime in Zimbabwe. In October 2011 they vetoed a resolution condemning Syria which would have been the first such legally binding move adopted by the Security Council since the Syrian Regime began using its military machine against protesters in mid-March in the town of Deraa.

Russia and China feel confident that Bashar al-Assad will survive, cling to power and continue to be a good friend with both powers. In October when Russia and China blocked the UN Security Council resolution some 3,200 people had been killed. The number is now 6,500 and rising daily. Does the figure have to climb to 10 or 15 thousands before Russia and China decide to do the right thing? So far they don't seem to be bothered by the rising numbers of the dead and wounded. Stopping the Syrian killing spree is not a priority for Russia and China. Survival of the regime is.

I still believe that should Russia and China continue with their obstinate support for the murderers of Damascus, President Barack Obama with his EU colleagues should take the lead to topple this regime. Do we have to witness large scale genocide before the world moves with or without the benefit of a UN Security Council resolution? A week ago, President Obama discussed the Syrian crisis with the Turkish Prime Minister Recept Tayyib Erdogan and both agreed to continue to condemn the brutal action of the Assad regime of Syria. More recently the President discussed the crisis with King Abdullah II of Jordan and both agreed that the regime must go. I am bound to say that verbal condemnation is not enough. It will not stop the killings. How many more thousands have to die before the president takes action to stop the massacres? Syria is the most pressing and most urgent crisis to face the United State and the free world.

Around the Web

Syria - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Syria News - Protests (2011)

CIA The World Factbook Syria

Syria

Syria | Reuters.com

Arab League chief requests extension of Syria monitoring mission

Colleagues blame Syria for death of French TV reporter Gilles Jacquier

2 US senators seek trade sanctions on Syria

Syria unrest spirals out of control

In cradle of Syrian revolt, army is now in charge