In response to the statement by the US and European nations, the Syrian foreign ministry accused the US of waging “diplomatic war” by imposing sanctions and calling for Assad’s ouster. The ministry said that the administration’s statement sends “the wrong message to the terrorist armed groups that they are under American and Western protection.” Syria contends that Israel and the West are behind the uprising, aided by al-Qaeda fighters.
Be that as it may, the UN appears finally ready to spring into action following some brazen lies President Assad told to General Secretary Ban Ki-moon. In response to the UN chief’s demand to halt the slaughter, Assad informed Ban that his army and police assaults had “stopped.” Meanwhile, his gunboats proceeded to fire on demonstrators in the coastal city of Latakia, and Syrian tanks opened up on protesters in Hama. Human rights activists on the scene said that at least 20 protesters were killed as Assad was claiming to Ban that he had halted military assaults.
The Security Council met late Thursday to determine sanctions against Syria, although there is still opposition from Brazil, China, Russia, India, and South Africa, who inexplicably believe that Assad should be given more time to “reform.” Whether the statements from the US, the EU, and some Arab states calling on Assad to step down will have any effect on this opposition remains to be seen.
The Security Council is also going to meet sometime next week to consider a report from the UN Human Rights Council that accuses the Assad regime of crimes against humanity committed during the crackdown. An emergency meeting of the rights council is scheduled for Monday where it is expected to recommend that the Security Council refer Syria to the International Criminal Court.
The document is striking in its detail. The 22-page report listed the names of 1,900 Syrian civilians killed by security forces, including 353 civilians who were summarily executed.
The Washington Post blog, Checkpoint Washington, reports:
The report documents a chilling catalogue of alleged state crimes as Syrian security forces, joined by ethnic Alawite militia, known as the Shabbiha, laid siege to restive town after town, shelling civilians with tank, artillery and helicopter fire, and picking off unarmed civilians, including children, with sniper fire as they left their homes in search of food. Syrian soldiers who refused order to kill civilians were themselves executed, according to the accounts.
Survivors told of their harrowing ordeals that included “physical torture, unlawful arrest, deprivation of basic services, including water and medicine, and ‘routine humiliation.’” It was also “widely reported that forces conducted regular raids in hospitals to search for and kill injured demonstrators.” Snipers also targeted people “providing medical assistance to victims.”
One massacre occurred in the coastal town of Latakia when 26 detainees were marched to a sports stadium, blindfolded, and summarily executed.
The report concluded: “The mission found a pattern of human rights violations that constitutes widespread or systematic attacks against the civilian population, which may amount to crimes against humanity.”
The Human Rights Council report highlights the moral shortcomings of the president’s “lead from behind” foreign policy. While the West dithered and delayed looking for leadership in the crisis, Bashar Assad brutalized his own people, carrying out a virtual war against civilians who dared defy him. The massacres that took place were not a secret. The Local Coordination Councils in Syria carefully documented the slaughter and gave their evidence to the world via social media and other outlets. Human rights observers also documented the atrocities while pleading with Western governments to take action to stop them.
The reaction to events in Syria by the United States has not been in keeping with our values, or our historic role as a moral leader in the world. If anything, it demonstrates the utter bankruptcy of a foreign policy more concerned with not getting the rest of the world upset at us for standing up for what we believe, rather than showing the world its moral duty in confronting evil.
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