Syria thumbs its nose at the UN (CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR) By Ariel Zirulnick 03/22/12)
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
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Despite a UN statement yesterday calling for an end to the violence,
which was backed even by Syria ally Russia, 82 people were killed
yesterday in clashes around the country.
• A daily summary of global reports on security issues.
United Nations head Ban Ki-moon said that a UN Security Council
statement calling for an end to violence in Syria had sent a “clear”
message, but there was no sign of abatement on the ground.
Media outlets reported clashes in the cities of Homs, Hama, Deraa,
and Deir al-Zour, among others. At least 82 people were killed
yesterday, and there have already been several deaths today, CNN
reports. Rebels are now preparing for an offensive on Damascus amid
what some experts characterize as "phase two" of the insurgency,
which could see an uptick in acts of terrorism.
In its statement, the Security Council backed UN special envoy Kofi
Annan’s plan to end the violence, which includes proposals for a
cease-fire initiated by the Syrian government, a daily halt in
fighting for the delivery of humanitarian aid and treatment for the
wounded, and talks between the government and opposition.
The non-binding statement initially warned of further UN action, such
as sanctions, if the Syrian government did not cooperate, but that
element was removed to secure Russian support for the statement.
Syrian media emphasized the statement’s lack of an ultimatum or clear
threat, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports. The headline for the
report from state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) read, “No
warnings or signals in statement,” and noted Russian Foreign Minister
Sergei Lavrov’s emphasis that the document does not contain any
ultimatums, threats, or assertions who is guilty.
AFP reports that after a month of getting pushed back in strongholds
across the country, the lightly armed rebels are preparing for an
assault on the capital of Damascus. The Free Syrian Army announced in
a video that it has set up a council to coordinate operations around
the city. In the past week, the city has become a prime target for
hit-and-run raids by the rebels.
International observers also worry about the increasing likelihood
that Syria’s domestic conflict will spill over into neighboring
countries. Last night several Syrian shells landed in a Lebanese
village on the border, wounding one person, Reuters reports.
The New York Times provides a detailed analysis of the state of play
in Syria: a regime that is unable to back down and an opposition that
wants nothing less than him gone.
Many Syrians say that Mr. Assad cannot afford to stop shooting and
can never go back to ruling as he did before, when his authority
stemmed from the bonds of sect, business interests and fear. If he
dials back his repression, Syrians of many political stripes say with
certainty, citizens will demand his ouster.
The quickest ways out – if Mr. Assad were to leave, or if insiders
were to stage a coup – also seem highly unlikely, analysts said.
Insulated from all but his inner circle, Mr. Assad appears to believe
that his strategy is succeeding.
The security officials who might be able to overthrow him now see
their fates intertwined with his. The public has suffered too much to
be satisfied with a coup alone; they would seek the entire security
system’s downfall and, possibly, revenge.
“We’ll see this society, which has been bullied into despair, resort
to desperate means,” said Peter Harling of the International Crisis
Group. “We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people pushed to
Syria observer Joshua Landis of the University of Oklahoma predicts
that the opposition is moving into what he calls “phase two” of an
insurgency: organized, continuous guerrilla warfare to put the
government on the defensive.
The initiative would include “terrorism,” such as bombings,
assassinations, kidnappings, and murder; efforts to win over support
from the general population, both through intimidation and by gaining
trust by providing for those in need; and attacks against the
government and military to undermine their ability to move freely
around the country. (© The Christian Science Monitor. 03/22/12)
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