Opinion: Getting Away with Murder, for Now

Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

After reports of another brutal massacre in Syria in which dozens of civilians were killed by forces loyal to the regime, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the political protection given the Damascus government by Russia and China is becoming a license to kill. This needs to change soon, because Syria is fast approaching a “nuclear option” in this conflict.

The worst-case, nightmare scenario for Syrians is that a full-fledged, long-term civil war will erupt. The region, meanwhile, has to be concerned that such a war will ripple in dramatic ways and engulf multiple countries.

For one thing, it could drag susceptible Lebanon into the sectarian fighting—where some internal violence has already occurred between militant civilians supporting or opposing the Syrian regime. In addition, neighboring Turkey, Iraq and Jordan could be troubled or even partially destabilized by floods of bloody refugees. And Israel is always a convenient target for President Bashar al-Assad to try and distract from his brutality.

In other words, while Assad is “getting away with murder” quite literally at the moment, the path being taken could rip the country apart and lead to a regional war. Moscow and Beijing better wake up fast and respond correctly before lines get permanently crossed.

The two reported massacres in less than two weeks that reportedly killed more than 180 people are proving the militant Syrian opposition right in their own minds. It was noteworthy that in recent weeks members of the opposition are refusing to adhere to the UN ceasefire.

And after the killings this week, an element in the political opposition to the regime called upon the militant branch to defend the populace. The Syrian National Council (SNC) on their website urged the opposition militant forces, including the Free Syrian Army, to provide “needed protection” for civilians.

That sounds like an implied call for more violence. More importantly, the sounds of desperation are mingling into the cries. At what point will the opposition give up hope of a political solution and take the Libyan route? At what point will the West be forced to respond to stop many more massacres? Or worse—at what point will the international community need to start a war to close a regional buy clonazepam online pharmacy Pandora’s Box as quickly as possible?

Assad, like the opposition, is also showing a degree of desperation. It’s one thing to kill when no one is looking. But to slaughter dozens of people when UN monitors are in the country?  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, according to a report of his comments from The Washington Post, did say that the observers had been prevented from entering the scene of the latest killing. So it’s not like it was done in front of them.

Still, with the world watching, Assad did it again. Arrogance is one explanation, and Russia and China’s support has fed Assad with confidence. But he also has to be contemplating Muammar Gaddafi’s killing in Libya and Hosni Mubarak’s imprisonment in Egypt.

This website warned that Gaddafi’s death and the subsequent sick display of his corpse could close the Syrian regime off to a peaceful end to this conflict. So far, that has tragically proven correct. The only hope for peace now is that the world can somehow convince Assad his only out is by getting out. That they will step up the pressure so much the writing will be on the wall for his rule. That he better strike a bargain while he still can.

Ban, in an unofficial transcript of comments to reporters posted on the UN website, summarized the current situation all too well. “Syria can quickly go from a tipping point to a breaking point. The danger of a full-scale civil war is imminent and real, with catastrophic consequences for Syria and the region,” he said.

“We see little evidence that the regime is complying with its commitments under the six-point plan endorsed by the Security Council more than two months ago. The opposition is hardening and turning increasingly to arms. Terrorists are exploiting the chaos. Gross human rights violations are multiplying.

“…The international community must recognize all these realities—and must act now.”

Ban still hopes for a peaceful resolution. I think everyone should. And that means the world must impose crippling sanctions and start preparing for even more dramatic steps—like imposed safe zones—in the hope of never using them.

Otherwise, in an effort to avert a NATO-led war, Moscow and Beijing may create a regional one.

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, June 8, 2012)