» Eyes on the ground: The UN Security Council voted unanimously to approve this surge in cease-fire observers, above and beyond the mere 30 tasked with the job last week. Syrian activists have long accused the Assad government of agreeing to proposals and peace deals only to buy itself more time in its brutal crackdown against citizen protest. To date, that fear seems rather validated, as just like last November’s peace agreement with the Arab League, the government has continued firing on activists and citizens with little regard to the terms of their agreements. At present, there are continued reports of killings, and shellings of cities such as Homs, with activists claiming the violence only halts for as long as the aforementioned monitors are in an area.
The battle to topple the state is over, and the battle to solidify stability… and move on towards a renewed Syria has begun.Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdisi • From an interview with Syria’s state-run television channel. The Syrian opposition isn’t so keen on this declaration, however — while opponents of the government have been forced to cede ground in recent weeks, there’s no real sign the anti-Assad fervor is dying down. Rebel groups have continued to urge foreign states to provide them with arms and munitions, while the United States and Arab League states continue to wait, hanging their hopes on the Syrian peace plan engineered by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Present UN estimates suggest the death toll in Syria, since the beginning of anti-government uprisings just over one year ago, now tops 9,000. source (via • follow)
It essential that President Assad put those commitments into immediate effect. The world is waiting for commitments to be translated into action. The key here is implementation, there is no time to waste.United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon • Emphasizing that Bashar al-Assad must act on any agreed-upon peace accord in Syria, rather than just paying lip service. Arab League leader Nabil al-Arabi asked for the same, but Syria’s already discounted the views of the Arab League. It hasn’t discounted the UN, but any peace agreement could be seen as a stalling tactic for the country.
Since its membership was suspended, Syria will only deal with Arab countries based on state-to-state relationships. Therefore we will not deal with any initiative issued by the Arab League at any level.Syrian spokesperson Jihad Makdisssi • Revealing that the country plans to ignore and reject any statement from the Arab League calling for the end to violence in the country. The country was booted from the Arab League in November as a result of the ongoing violence, which has killed over 9,000 people. FWIW, the United Nations’ Kofi Annan appears to be having slightly more luck, though many are skeptical.
There is no council, it’s an illusion. … They are trying to build an autocratic rule inside the council. There is no group work. Everyone is working by himself and the whole council has not met once.Syrian dissident Kamal al-Labwani • Discussing why he and another man left the Syrian National Council, the lead opposition group against the Assad regime. The council has long been fraught with infighting, of which this is yet another example. By the way, al-Labwani is a lifer at this: He was jailed in 2005 for his fight against the Assad regime and joined the council in November.
I believe there are ways to get weapons to the opposition without direct United States involvement. The Iranians and the Russians are providing Bashar Assad with weapons. People that are being massacred deserve to have the ability to defend themselves. So I am not only not opposed, but I am in favor of weapons being obtained by the opposition.Sen. John McCain • Offering a somewhat hawkish take on the situation in Syria. His buddy, Sen. Lindsey Graham, is totally with him on this point, suggesting we get weapons to Syrian rebels through intermediaries and saying this on the matter: “Breaking Syria apart from Iran could be as important to containing a nuclear Iran as sanctions.” Even considering the worsening situation in the country, is this the right way to go?
Some notable and important countries passed on sponsoring it, though. A committee in the United Nations has passed a non-binding resolution, which decries the gross human rights violations and widespread murder undertaken by the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Since the violent crackdowns began in March, the UN’s own estimates suggest that over 3,500 Syrians have been killed. The resolution, perhaps most significantly, passed with support from many Arab states; Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, and Kuwait were all co-sponsors. Of note voting against the resolution: UN Security Council members Russia and China. source
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» Suspended and sanctioned? That’s the possibility facing Syria in the days to come. It was last Saturday that the Arab League voted to suspend Syria today if there was not a halt to the brutal violence and oppression by the government (Syria had already flagrantly ignored an agreement with the Arab League to facilitate this on November 3rd). Should the violent oppression not stop within three days, the price would be economic sanctions imposed by the League, which could have significant consequences for the Syrian citizenry as well.
» It didn’t take long: Syrian citizens skeptical of the deal struck between the Arab League and the Assad government seem to have been proven right. The deal stipulated that Syrian security forces would withdraw from cities, a free domestic and international media presence would be allowed, and the government would free its political prisoners. And yet, just one day later, security forces (not having withdrawn from the city of Homs, obviously) have killed 11 people. Another 19 died in a tank shelling in the activist-heavy Bab Amro district. Maybe it wasn’t right to expect much to come of the Arab League deal, given the abysmal human rights record of Bashar al-Assad’s government, but this is horribly discouraging.