Monday, February 27, 2012

No Surprise Assad Claims Support For New Constitution As Crackdown Continues

Bashar al-Assad's busy claiming that people who turned out to vote for a new constitution did so overwhelmingly to support the new one. Mind you that Assad's security forces were busy murdering opposition protesters and shelling cities and communities that strongly oppose the regime. Western countries consider the referendum to be nothing more than window dressing to allow the regime time and space to continue their crackdown.
Interior minister Mohammed al-Shaar said the turnout was 57.4 percent of eligible voters with nearly 8.4 million ballots cast,

The new document will create a multi-party system in Syria, which has been governed solely by the Baath Party since 1963, and set presidential term limits. But even if it passes, President Assad will still be very powerful.

Opposition factions say the only acceptable solution to Syria's crisis is for President Assad to step down. Western governments rejected the referendum as a farce, but both China and Russia welcomed it Monday.

Russia and China recently blocked the U.N. Security Council from tougher actions against Mr. Assad's government.

Also Monday, European Union foreign ministers imposed new sanctions on Syria's central bank and froze the assets of several Syrian government officials. The bloc already has blacklisted nearly 150 other Syrian entities and people.

The U.N. Human Rights Council is scheduled to hold an urgent meeting on the crisis in Syria on Tuesday.
The regime says that the new constitution was approved by 89% of those voting. Considering that the opposition boycotted the referendum, the numbers aren't all that surprising. Assad wont be forced to step down, and the Ba'athist continue controlling all the elements of government. They "rewrote" the constitution but aren't going to relinquish power to opposition groups that are under constant harassment, military assaults, and human rights are not respected.

This is a regime that is murdering its own citizens all to allow Assad to continue his reign of terror. It's not surprising that Iran is doing what it can to block action in the UN's Human Right's Council, even as other Arab countries are lining up in opposition to the crackdown.

Iraq, however, is backing the Syrian people and isn't going to stand behind the regime. Qatar's foreign minister has called for arming the opposition, which is further than the US is willing to go at this point.

The Red Cross has managed to get into Hama for the first time in weeks to distribute aid, but it's a paltry amount compared to what's needed.

Opposition groups claim that 144 civilians were killed across Syria today, including dozens murdered when attacked at a checkpoint in Homs:
At least 144 people were killed Monday across Syria, including 64 who died in a "horrifying massacre" at a checkpoint in Homs province, opposition activists said.

Those killed at a checkpoint in the Abel area were attempting to flee shelling in the Baba Amr neighborhood in the city of Homs, said the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition activists.

"Reports said security members and thugs kidnapped the women among them," the network said in a statement. Residents found 47 corpses in one area and 17 in a second one, it said.

A total of 68 corpses were found in the area, in farmland in western Homs province, said the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, apparently referencing the same incident. The bodies were found after an injured survivor reported the attack, the group said. All the bodies had been either shot or stabbed.

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