Thursday, June 14, 2012

Assad Continues Crackdown While World Watches

Bashar al Assad continues to put his own spin on his father's Hama rules guide to dealing with insurrection. Assad continues murdering those opposed to his regime at a frightening pace, but it's a slow bleed. A dozen here, a dozen there every few days, with larger massacres interspersed. That compares with his father, who killed tens of thousands in a brutal burst when eliminating the Muslim Brotherhood's presence in the city of Hama.

Hama, both the city and province, continue to be a thorn in Assad the younger's side, as it remains a center of opposition to Assad's regime.

While the world can do little but issue sternly worded letters and UN observers can't intercede and their own safety is put at risk by both sides to the conflict, the US has started to increase its rhetoric against Assad's patron in Russia. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that Syria was receiving helicopters from Russia, but what wasn't stated is that those helicopters were getting maintenance and refurbishment - they weren't exactly new to Syria's fleet.
What Mrs. Clinton did not say, however, was whether the aircraft were new shipments or, as administration officials say is more likely, helicopters that Syria had sent to Russia a few months ago for routine repairs and refurbishing, and which were now about to be returned.

“She put a little spin on it to put the Russians in a difficult position,” said one senior Defense Department official.

Mrs. Clinton’s claim about the helicopters, administration officials said, is part of a calculated effort to raise the pressure on Russia to abandon President Bashar al-Assad, its main ally in the Middle East. Russia has so far stuck by Mr. Assad’s government, worried that if he were ousted, Moscow would lose its influence in the region.

In response to Mrs. Clinton’s allegations, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, accused the United States of hypocrisy on Wednesday, saying it had supplied weapons that could be used against demonstrators in other countries in the region. Mr. Lavrov, during a visit to Iran, repeated Russia’s claim that it is not supplying Damascus with any weapons that could be used in a civil war.
It's still a bad situation and the optics don't look good for Russia considering that Assad has been using those helicopters in going after the rebel forces.

Lavrov's criticism is accurate; the US has provided weapons to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and Egypt over the years and they were utilized in the crackdowns and suppression of dissent during the course of the Arab Spring.

Yet, the level of violence perpetrated by Assad is on a different scale, and the US wasn't providing those weapons shipments in the middle of what even the UN concedes is a civil war. Amnesty International has reported once again that Assad's forces are committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The London-based rights group called for an international response after claiming it had fresh evidence that victims, including children, had been dragged from their homes and shot dead by soldiers, who in some cases then set the remains on fire.

“This disturbing new evidence of an organised pattern of grave abuses highlights the pressing need for decisive international action,” said Amnesty’s Donatella Rovera on the release of the 70-page report entitled Deadly Reprisals.

The advocacy group interviewed people in 23 towns and villages across Syria and concluded that government forces and militias were guilty of “grave human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law amounting to crimes against humanity and war crimes.”
UN observers finally reached one of the towns under fire, Haffeh, only to find it battered and deserted.

The diplomatic situation is further complicated by the fact that China is also thwarting actions at the UN alongside Russia.

It's a disturbing pattern of behavior by Assad's backers/patrons, all while the Syrians continue to suffer at the hands of his regime.

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