Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Photo credit: PanArmenian Photo
Syria is under pressure again as evidence shows that the country is not complying with UN Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has spoken out to express his frustration. Syrian activists say that 78 people were killed in Qubair village this week by government forces, thought to be Paramilitaries drawn from the minority Alawite group; the government claim terrorists killed 9 people. UN observers were shot at when trying to reach Qubair earlier.
Activists say that the government is shelling the city of Homs. The UN says up to 9,000 people have died since protests started in March 2011. Information is scarce, as journalists have little access; contradictory reports from the Bashar al-Assad’s state and from activists only fuel the matter. The US is calling for action; as usual, Russia and China, Syria’s allies, are opposing outside intervention. What is to be done? Intervention might lead to terrible consequences in the country and the region; perhaps the best bet is Kofi Annan’s peace plan.
“The danger of a full-scale war is imminent and real,” said Ban Ki-moon, quoted on the BBC. “The Syrian people are bleeding.”
Security Council should unite
Barbara Plett on the BBC analysed the situation, and said that Annan’s “main message” was that the Security Council should unite. Otherwise “the crisis would spiral out of control.” However, in the council, it still wasn’t clear what should be done. Discussions have started to set up a “contact group” of powers that influence Syria – but this has “got bogged down” about whether Iran should be part of it or not.
Assad must be stopped
The Times’ editorial was fulminating. “These are monstrous crimes against innocents, violating not only the laws of war but also the more innate laws of human compassion.” Syria needs to “move into a post-Assad era.” Assad would do well to remember what happened to Mubarak and Gaddafi. He’s only making action from the West more inevitable. At the moment, countries that have contact with Syria should try to bargain with it; they should give “safe havens” to Syrians fleeing the regime; and they should see how they can provide protection, such as drones. Assad must be stopped.
The situation in Syria is much more complicated; we risk conflagration
Mary Dejevsky in The Independent said that the picture was “deceptive.” Things are “less black and white than they have been made to look.” Early reports from Houla said that children had had their throats cut; now reports say they were shot by gunmen spraying “indiscriminately.” It’s “not quite the same.” The victims weren’t opponents of Assad – it’s now thought to be based on local clan rivalry. If Assad leaves, then it won’t solve the problem of these religious and clan disputes – it will “merely lift the lid off.” Look at Kosovo and Libya – they’re not viable. And Syria’s even more complex than Libya – and that’s not even mentioning the trouble that the entire region might fall into. It will be “impossible” to confine intervention in Syria within that country’s borders. It risks “region-wide conflagration.” The only hope lies in Jofi Annan’s peace plan.
Kofi Annan’s peace plan is the only way
The uprising in Syria is popular, but not universal, said The Guardian’s editorial. One third of people are pro-government; another third don’t like it, “but fear the alternative.” We shouldn’t declare Kofi Annan’s plan “dead,” but put pressure on Russia and China, which have “nothing to gain from a civil war in Syria.” The alternative is a “long war with an inconclusive outcome, possibly even the breakup of Syria.”