Assad Defies Arab League on Crackdown

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With the Arab League floundering in fantasy, the United Nations will need to go far beyond the sanctions already imposed by the EU and America to punish the Assad regime and force an end to the crackdown. Speaking at a meeting of Pacific leaders, Ban Ki Moon stopped short of calling for military intervention, but urged “coherent measures” by the world community to address the situation. He urged President Assad to take “immediate and bold and decisive measures before it’s too late.” Later, the UN chief corrected his statement, saying, “It’s already too late, in fact. It’s already too late. If it takes more and more days, then more people will be killed.”

The US and the European Union want to urge the UN Security Council to extend the sanctions by adding a travel ban and asset freeze on Assad and 20 of his top associates. Currently, the EU has slapped an embargo on Syrian oil and the US has issued its own asset freeze and travel bans on Assad and members of his inner circle.

But Russia and China are blocking any additional sanctions in the Security Council, refusing even to discuss the matter. And Brazil, India, and South Africa have also questioned the use of sanctions, but have agreed to meet with the US and the EU to discuss what the Washington Post calls “a more diluted council resolution.” Said one Western diplomat, “We’ve decided to put the sanctions to the side.”

There have been questions raised about arming the opposition, but most diplomats believe that would only play into Assad’s hands. The dictator has been saying for months that the opposition is made up of armed gangs and terrorists. This drew an acerbic response from US Ambassador Robert Ford, who said on the embassy’s Facebook page, “No one in the international community accepts the justification from the Syrian government that those security service members’ deaths justify the daily killings, beatings, extrajudicial detentions, torture and harassment of unarmed civilian protestors.”

But there may be little choice for the protestors who face the guns of the Syrian army. One Homs demonstrator said, “The situation is unbearable. You cannot watch the other side just killing you, killing your family, killing your children. But we are concerned about the consequences of taking up arms.”

It’s hard to imagine consequences that would make things much worse in Homs. “The city is completely besieged. When I go to the balcony, I can see the snipers on the tall building in front of me,” said one resident. In addition to the young boy gunned down at a checkpoint, five other bodies were discovered in what might have been sectarian retaliation. Assad has been deliberately trying to split the opposition along religious lines and the deaths in Homs may be related to that effort.

The regime has also intensified its round-ups of protest leaders, with more than 200 arrested in Homs alone in the last 24 hours. Other arrests took place in Latakia, Deir al-Zour, Daraa and Hama. If there is one thing that has been shown in other Arab countries during the uprisings, it’s that arresting protest leaders does nothing to halt the demonstrations, as others in the movement will step forward to take their place. The Syrian opposition is prepared for these eventualities and has proven itself quite resilient in maintaining a tremendous presence in the streets, with protests growing rather than getting smaller despite the arrests.

With the Arab League initiative dead in the water, and the UN Security Council refusing to act, international pressure on Assad to stop the slaughter appears stuck in neutral. The sanctions already in place will hurt, but it will take time for the full effect of the oil ban to be felt. Meanwhile, the army shows little sign of cracking and support for the regime from the business and merchant classes looks solid – for the moment. Assad may bring the Syrian economy crashing down around his head, and sectarian violence is always a shadow in the background waiting to emerge. But until men with guns finally challenge his authority, Assad will continue to hang on to power with all the brutally effective means at his disposal.

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  • Flowerknife_us

    neither side in this conflict is worth supporting unless it keeps it going.

    • ebonystone

      It might be worthwhile to support both sides to keep it going.

  • ApolloSpeaks

    Will the proxy war for control of Syria with Shia Iran, Iraq and Hezbollah on one side and the Saudi, Egyptian and Turkish Sunnis on the other evolve into a full scale regional sectarian conflict? All signs point to such a war that could drag in the world.

  • StephenD

    Apollo, this won't happen if…they all ban together against Israel. How convenient a target is Israel. Everyone can continue to ignore the treatment of the so called "Palestinians" in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, et al and blame Israel for not giving more of its land to them. As soon as things heat up they point at Israel. "It's all Israel's fault! If she only would be wiped out of existence, then there would be peace and prosperity." Man o man. And the world buys into this drivel.

    • ApolloSpeaks

      And face possible annihilation from Israel's on-shore, off-shore nuclear arsenal? It's hard to see.

      • William_Z

        It's the nuclear arsenal everyone seems to forget, when everyone sees Israel’s demise.

        • ApolloSpeaks

          Exactly! Well said.

  • voted against carter

    ' TAQIYYA '
    Do your own research about it if you don't know what this means.

    islam IS EVIL. PERIOD.

    islam strives for world domination.

    The quran commands muslims to exercise jihad.

    The quern commands muslims to establish shariah law.

    The quern commands muslims to impose islam on the entire world.

    islam is NOT a religion, it IS a totalitarian ideology.

    islam IS and has remained a death cult from its beginnings.

    islam wants to dominate all aspects of life, from the cradle to the grave.

    shariah law is a law that controls every detail of life in a islamic society.

    From civic- and family law to criminal law.

    It determines how one should eat, dress and even use the toilet.

    Oppression of women is good, drinking alcohol is bad.

    The core of the quran is the call to jihad.

    Jihad means a lot of things and is arabic for battle.

    islam means submission, there cannot be any mistake about its goal.

    islam and freedom, islam and democracy are not compatible.

    They are opposite values.

    mohamed's "wife" was six years old.

    That makes mohamed a PEDOPHILE!!!

    And you want to base a "Religion" on this a z z -holes rantings?

    Are you INSANE?

    I STAND with Israel

  • Steve Chavez

    But Assad's knees were shaking when Hillary told him he must leave!

  • The concerned

    I wonder if Syria had oil like Libia did & the economy of UK & France for most part depended on it, would there have been a UN resulotion to intervin like they did in Lybia.
    I do not think that Kadafi killed as many civilians as they have in Syria.

  • mrbean

    be careful what you wish for, the Muslim brotherhood might be Assad's replacement.

  • pokemon team builder

    Muslim brotherhood might be Assad's replacement.