Rebel groups, realizing that the diplomatic efforts have gone nowhere and haven't forced Assad to scale back his crackdown, are now clamoring for weapons and the means to topple Assad directly.
The main opposition Syrian National Council outlined on Friday its vision for a post-Assad Syria, and appealed for the weapons required to make that happen.With any kind of effort akin to the NATO air mission over Libya all but dead given Russian and Chinese threatened and actual vetoes in the UN Security Council, the diplomatic efforts are reduced to strongly worded letters and condemnation. Action is far harder to come by.
The SNC announced it was proposing an interim presidential council of national leaders and a truth and reconciliation committee at a meeting of the “Friends of Syria” group of 70 Western and Arab nations in Tunisia Friday.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said ahead of the meeting that rebel fighters would become “increasingly capable,” saying they will “from somewhere, somehow, find the means to defend themselves as well as begin offensive measures."
And, in her opening remarks to the conference, Clinton said the regime of President Bashar Assad had "ignored every warning, squandered every opportunity and broken every agreement."
At the same time, efforts to create a humanitarian corridor to allow food and vital supplies to cities like Homs aren't going to go anywhere. Assad is engaging in crimes against humanity and collective punishment by going after not only the rebel forces arrayed against him (including the many defectors from his security forces), but after the cities where protests have been most active.
Assad doesn't care about appearances. He is fighting for his regime's survival and that means crushing the ongoing rebellion against his rule. His security forces aren't going to permit humanitarian aid to flow into places like Homs despite the crushing toll a lack of medicine and food has on the civilian populations. They've got nowhere to turn.
Yet, Assad probably doesn't quite realize just how far the opposition has come and that he's likely fighting a losing battle to stay in power. The tighter he grasps that power, the more people rally against his regime. Syrians are realizing just how evil the regime truly is and with the Internet and its myriad communications streams (Twitter, YouTube, blogging, etc.) allows people to get the message out. They are seeing that their fellow countrymen are being slaughtered in places like Homs for merely speaking out against the ongoing violence - let alone against the regime. Far from silencing the opposition, Assad's brutal crackdown is having the opposite effect. The opposition is growing larger and bolder with each passing day and despite the regime's loyalists' advantages in military capabilities, seeing the streets run red with the blood of civilians - including women and children - is enough to convince Syrians that Assad's regime must come to an end.
Watch for yet another round of attempts to convince Assad to take the golden parachute to exile - but those will fall on deaf ears.
Red Cross efforts to get injured journalists out of Homs, along with the remains of American journalist Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik, have thus far been met with static from Assad's regime. Assad's regime takes no responsibility in the artillery attacks resulting in their deaths and the journalists' injuries, and instead blames the journalists themselves for being in harms way by not partaking in the clown circus of official propaganda channels.
The Jerusalem Post is reporting that Hamas is backing the rebel opposition groups arrayed against Assad. That follows moves by Hamas leaders over the past several months to find other safe havens besides their longstanding relationship with the Assad leadership in Damascus. It's interesting that they're not only opposing Assad, but are publicly stating their intentions to block Hizbullah and Iran from taking advantage of the situation.
Hamas went public after nearly a year of equivocating as Assad's army, largely led by fellow members of the president's Alawite sect, has crushed mainly Sunni protesters and rebels.Not only is Haniyeh turning his back on Assad, but is also spitting in the face of the Iranian regime that has backed the terror group from the outset.
In a Middle East split along sectarian lines between Shi'ite and Sunni Islam, the public abandonment of Assad casts immediate questions over Hamas's future ties with its principal backer Iran, which has stuck by its ally Assad, as well as with Iran's fellow Shi'ite allies in Lebanon's Hezbollah movement.
"I salute all the nations of the Arab Spring and I salute the heroic people of Syria who are striving for freedom, democracy and reform," Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, visiting Egypt from the Gaza Strip, told thousands of Friday worshipers at Cairo's al-Azhar mosque.
"We are marching towards Syria, with millions of martyrs," chanted worshipers at al-Azhar, home to one of the Sunni world's highest seats of learning. "No Hezbollah and no Iran. The Syrian revolution is an Arab revolution."
It also raises new questions about whether the fight in Syria may break down along sectarian lines with Hamas and Hizbullah fight amongst each other for primacy to dominate what may come after Assad.