Unabated Syrian Killings
THIRTY years ago, President Hafez Assad of Syria had his army crush a Sunni revolt in Hama. When it was over, as many as 20,000 Syrians were killed and neighbourhoods were bulldozed. On Wednesday, social media sites and services were abuzz with Syrians determined to keep the memory of that atrocity alive.
Another Assad – Bashar – is now in power and repeating history. Since the largely peaceful revolt against his regime began last March, security forces have killed nearly 6,000 protesters and the toll is rising. Yet the UN Security Council is paralysed, unable to condemn Assad, much less impose the international economic sanctions that might force him to end the killing or leave power. Foreign ministers from the US, other Western nations and the Arab League are back at the council this week pushing for a tough resolution and speaking out forcefully.
But Russia, backed by China and India, is still defending Assad and blocking constructive action. Moscow, which values arms deals with Damascus over the Syrian people, vetoed the last resolution in October.
The new draft resolution repeats demands initially made by the Arab League for Syria to withdraw troops from the cities and release all political prisoners.
It also endorses the League’s proposal for a political transition that would have Assad yield power to his deputy, establish a unity government and prepare for free elections.
The Russians, Chinese and Indians – invoking Libya – insist that they will not abide foreign military intervention in Syria or let a resolution be exploited to permit the use of force. We’re not optimistic Assad will ever go along. But passing the resolution would unite the international community around a peaceful solution. It must be as strong as possible so there is no doubt where the world stands: with the Syrian people and against the Assad butchery