Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Appalling Crime"

These are the breathless words of dismay and desperation to solve a dreadful dilemma usually exhaled by a head of the United Nations.  This time they were expressed by Kofi Annan, the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, and former head of the United Nations.  Who doubtless last spoke those very same words as the carnage and bloodshed in Rwanda shocked the world.

And now, it is Syria.  Which defiantly continues its campaign to destroy all those who oppose the Alawite regime of President Bashar al-Assad, industriously proving that he is his father's son, and what was good enough for his father in his relations with the very same Sunni majority who clamoured for his ignominious downfall, is most certainly good enough for him.

The technique may be different, the style is reminiscent of what went before.  And whereas his father butchered some ten thousand people, the son still has 8,500 left to go.  After the slaughter that took place in Houla, the regime withdrew its tanks and engaged in clashes elsewhere, from Idlib to Daraa, to Damascus and back again to Hama.

The Free Syrian Army is bruiting about possible retaliation-in-kind with discussions of attacks against minority Alawite villages, augmenting attacks against regime forces.  The regime speaks of foreign thugs and terrorists attacking Syrians, and the rebels speak of the regime's 'gangs'.  The main opposition group has placed its fighters on notice to "be prepared to liberate Syria from the hands of Assad's gangs."

Hezbollah fighters are known to be present in Syria, assisting the Syrian military.  And with them are Iranian troops of the Revolutionary Guard.  Ismail Gha'ani, the deputy head of the Revolutionary Guard's Quds force claimed: "If the Islamic Republic was not present in Syria, the massacre of people would have happened on a much larger scale."

Russia, which just unloaded weapons from a Russian ship at a Syrian port certainly has knowledge of all that.  And Bahrain and Saudi Arabia both of which have funnelled arms through to the rebels most certainly know all about those complexities as well.  The civil war that has engulfed Syria has no intention of giving way to reason or pleas to desist until one or the other is defeated.

And during the determination of which will succeed, it is entirely feasible that a larger confrontation could take place with the principals seeking the advantage of destroying the appetite for conquest of the other.  Saudi Arabia intent on maintaining its sphere of influence as the Arab League elder statesman, and Iran determined to take its place as the paramount nation of the Middle East.

The 49 children and 34 women among the 108 people who were slaughtered in the town of Houla on the week-end is the beginning of the end, perhaps.  Outrage having been expressed by world leaders, a concerted dismissal of diplomats from countries presage the end of patience and expectations other than ruinously black ones.

Though China and Russia both signed on to the UN Security Council's latest and greatest condemnation of the Houla massacre, Russia continues to defend Syria claiming that both sides bear responsibility.  That is true, of course, both do, but one is a state apparatus while the other represents civil opposition militias; a modicum of decency and decorum is expected of the former, far less of the latter.

Misplaced expectations, at best.

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