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Nehad Ismail Headshot

The Syrian Regime Will Only Respond to the Big Stick

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Kofi Annan's initiative is in trouble. The Syrian regime declared its acceptance of the UN sponsored plan on 27 March 2012. The main requirement of the plan is the pulling back of the Syrian troops from Syrian cities by April 10th and all fighting to stop within 48 hours after that.. There is no chance of that. The Syrian troops are still busy shelling civilian residential areas in Homs and other areas. The violence is spilling over to the Turkish and Lebanese borders. The regime is refusing to abandon the brutal military solution it adopted a year ago to quell the pro-democracy protests relying on Chinese and Russian support at the UN and the Security Council.

The cease-fire plan was endorsed by the United States and other Security Council members because it could win support from Russia and China, which have so far blocked any condemnation of the Assad regime or any steps to deter the regime.

Mr. Annan is scheduled to report this week to the Security Council about progress and developments on the ground.

The United States as the rotating president of the Security Council for April must exert efforts to enable the Council to come up with a strong resolution to stop the massacres. This is unlikely to succeed due to the Russian obstinate stance.

In order for the butchery of the Syrian people to stop, the least that can done is for the US to exert pressure on Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar to provide tangible support for the Free Syrian Army. The military hardware to be supplied must include portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons.

The regime has miscalculated by choosing the military solution and it will only understand the language of force, the language of Cruise Missiles and F-16s.

Russia is still supplying Syria with arms and military advice. According the a New York Times editorial Tuesday April 10th, "Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Arab states are supplying the opposition with weapons, and the United States has offered nonlethal assistance, including communications equipment, night-vision goggles and intelligence." I argue these non-lethal tools are useful but will not bring down the Syrian regime.

Should the subject come before the Security Council, China is likely to abstain but Russia will not play ball. Russia is still refusing to condemn the war crimes committed by the Syrian regime. The Security Council has been so far 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 had failed to stop the killing machine of the Syrian regime. The Kofi Annan's Plan is facing the same fate.

The regime is still blaming foreign powers, Islamists, Al Jazeera, Al Arabia the two Pan Arab Satellite Channels as well as Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

When in October last year, Russia and China vetoed a draft resolution that would have condemned the Assad regime some 3200 people had been killed. The number is now well over 9000 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.

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. 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.

In January 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 OK" and you have to accept al Assad's rule whether you like it or not.
Would the leader of the free world and specifically Barack Obama, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy rise up and do the right thing to save the Syrian people from a regime that will only understand the language of Cruise Missiles and F-16s.