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Running out of options

At Sunday’s Friends of Syria conference in Istanbul, Western and Arab nations issued a deadline for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to meet the terms of the peace plan proposed by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. But the outlook does not look promising for the six-point initiative. The killing in Syria has not stopped, the chances for meaningful dialogue are slim, and the options are narrowing.
 
Ahead of the meeting, the embattled Assad regime announced that the 13-month uprising had been crushed. It was a ham-fisted PR move, not least because at least 34 people from both sides died on Sunday. In the past year more than 9,000 people have been killed and over 25,000 (that we know of) have fled into Turkey and Lebanon.  
 
This was the second “Friends of Syria” conference in as many months, and it proved to be important ballast to counter the Syrian regime’s arrogance. The opposition Syrian National Council was recognized as the “legitimate representative” of all Syrians, and while Annan’s plan might still be on the table, the decisions by Saudi Arabia and Qatar to fund the opposition must surely demonstrate that as long as the killing continues, supporters of the opposition can take nothing for granted.
 
The conference concluded that Assad would be judged on his “deeds rather than promises,” but we should not hold our breath. The Arab League proposed a similar plan in November, one that also came to naught. The Annan initiative is also unlikely to yield fruit, if only because it stipulates that Assad would have a role in any negotiations (no doubt included to secure Russian and Chinese support) but the SNC has always maintained that it will never negotiate with the Syrian president, so one wonders how that hurdle will be overcome.
 
What of the argument peddled by supporters of the Assad regime that the crisis is a Saudi-led, US-backed Sunni conspiracy? It’s an easy claim to make, especially as both Saudi Arabia and Qatar pledged funds to the opposition and have openly called for arming the under-equipped yet brave Free Syrian Army.
 
A Sunni plot? If supporting co-religionists is a conspiracy, then conspiracy is the modus operandi of the Middle East. But we have known this for centuries. Instead, the focus should not be on who is backing whom, but on what is happening in Syria to ordinary, innocent people. For many, it is easier to issue charges of conspiracy than to face the fact that the regime has embarked upon a deliberate policy of mass murder and repression on a civilian population as it tries to crush a legitimate opposition movement. This is not a government taking on an insurgency (as it would have us believe). This is a regime that is fighting for its survival, and it knows that any compromise will expose the fact that it can only exist through absolute rule. If it’s conspiratorial to get rid of such an entity, then so be it.
 
Speaking at a ceremony on Saturday to mark the 18th anniversary of the dissolution of the Lebanese Forces, the party’s leader, Samir Geagea, said that the “real solution” in Syria was democracy. He is right, but from what we have seen in the past year, the transition will not come about through a negotiated settlement.
 
Indeed, the statements of the senior diplomats and leaders in Istanbul were hardly upbeat. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had no option but to conclude that “the regime is adding to its long list of broken promises,” while Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan admitted that further pussyfooting by the UN Security Council would force the international community to accept the Syrian opposition’s right to self-defense. 
 
With Russia and China unlikely to bend, there appears to be little wiggle room. Taking up arms may be the only solution. Not fighting will surely lead to more deaths.

  • ali daoud

    Mick, the USA was forced to leave iraq which is now an ally to Iran and syria. did the USA invade iraq to make it an ally for Iran and syria?!!! get real ya MIck, i wonder what kind of analysis you do. habibi, the USA is used to do stupid things that turned out to benefit only its enemies. Bashar and Iran were the only ones who supported the Resistance against israel wether that Resistance is a Lebanese one or a Palestinian one. your Gulf partners are paying billions of dollars to topple Bashar at time they refused to help the Palestinian Resistance with one cent, and here i ask you to losten to what the Palestinians themselves say about the help they got and they still get from Iran, and i am sure you know those facts however your denial is due to your shame of the fact that you side with israel and USA and their filthy arab allies against the Resistance, and yet we will WIN. Vive Bashar, down israel and qatar and saudi and USA.

    April 17, 2012

  • Mick

    majd, doesn't mean that if the baath parties in Syria and Iraq were enemies, they don't follow the same ideology. bashar is slaughtering his people in the thousands, while saddam invaded kuwait. When u own ur allegiance to this party u become are walking time bomb. Haven't u noticed the doctrine is very faulty. The Iranians disliked this ideology and now they are in bed with it. Neverthelesss, some of saddam's accomplishments were positive like bombing israel numerous times during the first gulf war. What has bashar done in resistence to israel, absolutely nothing! In fact he has shielding israel ever since his family came to power. Bashar like his allies the Iranians has always used the palestinian cause to further there influence in the region and remain in power. Do they really car about palestinians, no way.

    April 11, 2012

  • Mick

    majd, ur reply to my last post is weak. Just empty rhetoric and theories that don't amount to anything. There was never a time the U.S. was weak and it benefitted immensely from the invasion of Iraq. Here are the results. The U.S. influence of Iraq means, it now exerts control over the world's second biggest oil reserves behind SA. The occuaption significantly reduced and destroyed what used to be the worlds third largest army, to the pleasure of israel. Power was taken away from the sunni's and handed over to the shia who installed al-maliki as PM. He refuses to share power with the sunni's and the U.S. hasn't exerted any pressure on him what so ever. This, coupled with the saving of the Iranian crew and not providing help to the FSA in syria all suggest that the U.S. has been playing a cynical role in deed.

    April 11, 2012

  • ali daoud

    @Mick, you are wrong again Mick, when the USA is being soft it is because it has no more options, it played the game till the end and failed in accomplishing any of its goals except being able to get out of Iraq peacefully and not under fire. the USA wanted an easy exit out of the hell of Iraq and it paid a price, nothing for free my friend. about you comparing between the baath of Iraq and that of syria, sorry to say, it is a naive comparison, first both were fierce enemies to each other, second, Saddam used to be a puppet to the west and to the Gulf nations, he waged a two million victim war against iran for the eyes of the USA and Saudi, and when the war ended, he asked for a prize, however, they replied to him " your time is over, we owe you nothing", he was stupidly mad, he wanted to invade Kuwait, he stupidly thought he had the green light from the USA through its ambassador April Glasbey, she trapped him, he invaded Kuwait, and the USA took it as an excuse to finish him up.

    April 10, 2012

  • Mick

    HEP, ur wrong!!! Explain the saving of the Iranian crew in the ocean and don't tell me it was a humanitarian gesture by the U.S. In 1988 the U.S. was shooting down Iranian planes in the ocean and now they are suddenly rescuing Iranian ships! Jeah how times change. Explain the U.S. being soft on al-maliki. Isn't it enough the shia gained a foothold in Iraq but that wasn't enough for al-maliki, he wants complete power. Then u have the sectarian al-maliki stating that he is against the overthrow of bashar, forgetting, that it was foreign intervention that enabled him to come to power. The Iranians along with al-maliki are playing a risky game indeed, by biting off more then what they can chew. They don't want Syria to obtain it's natural place. The Iraqi's desperately wanted to get rid of there baath leader while they are happy with the other baath leader in Syria. They know all to well the suffering and oppression that comes with those baathist and yet they deny that freedom to the Syri

    April 10, 2012

  • Conspiracy!

    The central belief of every moron is that he is the victim of a mysterious conspiracy against his common rights and true deserts. - H. L. Mencken

    April 9, 2012

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    HEP, way to scour the internet for Op-eds that have no research or relevance behind them, too bad Walter Duranty and Louis Fischer are not alive you'd be quoting them,"shoulda taken that left turn at Albuquerque" - Bugs Bunny

    April 8, 2012

  • Marco Antonio

    hep the the "hip hop" has such "wise" words of advice such as referring to Escobar. Such stupidity propagated by the hip hop rarely found anywhere else on the plant like a moron in the rough (not a diamond but a moron, a real life size moron in the middle east)... Not to mention all the plaid propaganda in hip hop's comment that preceded the Escobar quote. His entire comment adds up to little more than plaid propaganda and a whole lot of stupidity that hip hop hopes to get by us unnoticed. Well we noticed you hip hop, you little " ... " in the rough...

    April 8, 2012

  • Hep

    Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and now Syria had peace and calm until Washington intervened belligerently. - Strategies and tactics vary. Objectives are consistent. They involve replacing independent regimes with pro-Western ones by any means, including war. - Three unwinnable ones rage. Nonetheless, Obama plans more. Syria’s target one. For the past year, US-instigated violence ravaged parts of the country. Thousands have been killed, many others injured. - Syria’s gripped by fear. Heavily armed killer gangs rage out of control, and direct foreign intervention looms. - Assad’s wrongly blamed. The blame game targets victims, not villains. As a result, ongoing conflict continues……… - “Planned Regime Change in Syria” - Stephen Lendman

    April 8, 2012

  • Ghawar

    Again HEP is right, because some rebels are being armed by the Americans so we should all supports the Assads murdering rampage just like we did support them in Lebanon. The thousands of Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian civilians that the Assads murdered in Lebanon and Syria all deserved to be murdered because they protected armed "terrorists" unlike the ones Israel kills who alone are martyrs. Ag Ag Ag Ag - Popeye the Sailorman

    April 7, 2012

  • Hep

    Ghawar, then tell the Americans not to help the rebels. The Americans want war to topple Assad. Washington has set up its own fund, for "humanitarian" assistance to Syria and "non-lethal" aid to the "rebels"; "non-lethal" as in ultra battle-ready satellite communications equipment, plus night-vision goggles. Clinton's silky spin was that the equipment would allow the "rebels" to "evade" attacks by the Syrian government. No mention that now they have access to actionable US intelligence via a swarm of drones deployed all over Syria…….. - “We Want War, And We Want It Now” - Pepe Escobar

    April 7, 2012

  • Ghawar

    Yeah HEP Israel and the US are bad and that's why we should support the Assads murdering Lebanese, Palestinians and Syrians, thank you pointing that out and setting us straight.

    April 7, 2012

  • Hep

    Check out these videos: Hidden By Our Main Stream Media -The Real Face Of Israeli Occupation A view of Israel that the US media tends to leave out. You Tube Video: “AMERICA LOVES ISRAEL. WHY??” - Posted April 05, 2012 ... See also – “Iran Bashing, Terrorism and Who Chose The Chosen People, Anyway?” ...

    April 6, 2012

  • ghafran

    to mick you are an idiot so silly and brainwashed by cia hollywood and mossad syria has population24 million syrians all baathists you fool they worship the baath and assad whats wrong with you ,all the leaders of the baath in syria and iraq till today are sunni muslims all loyal to assad how can you ban a party if its popular and democaratically appointed elected and leads the state ,you must be out of your mind syrias sunnis formulate 50% the next half are the christians allawites and druze shiites and ismailis wherers your balance.Eeven today in lebanon half the population are either baathists by birth or follow in one way or another the baath party what you talking about ,saddam you idiot was a burden on the baath in iraq cause he was usa mossad tool out of date he stuffed the baath the nation and his neighbours the invasion of iraq was a trap due to fact he couldnt destroy iran so they let him invade kuwait to finish him off once and for all he got out of hand and became a cowboy

    April 5, 2012

  • Hep

    America and Shia of the region are not becoming cozy: But the opposite is true. Obama has issued the green light for punishing new US economic sanctions directed at forcing the Iranian government to submit to Western pressure over its nuclear program by starving the country of oil revenues. These new sanctions, which go into effect on June 28, aim to impose a warlike blockade of the Iranian economy by penalizing any government or private entity that carries out financial transactions with the country’s central bank. -- “Obama Gives Green Light for Punishing Sanctions on Iran” - Bill Van Auken

    April 5, 2012

  • Mick

    majd, u gotta be kidding me. True Saddam did a few mistakes and oppressed his people. But no body and I mean, no body compares, to the girrafe bashar. This man and his regime are the lowest of the low. And everyone who supports him are in the same category. I don't even believe he is human but a monster in disguise. He feels bound by no rules of engagement and capable of committing virtually any crime imaginable in order to preserve his grip on power. Slaughtering and butchering civilians at random to terrorize and squash an uprising is a nazi-like tactic of collective punishment. If you demonstrate for freedom the regime will send in its army and start randomly massacring people in your neighborhood until you stop protesting. He doesn't care who they kill as human life has little worth to this baathist fascist, depraved, tyranical dictator. And the massacring and killing daily in syria proves that. The world has never witnessed such brutal and horrific terror before. No wonder Interna

    April 5, 2012

  • Mick

    majd, u can't honestly tell me that the americans and the shia of the region haven't been becoming cosy lately and that its a natural process due to americas shortsightedness. Just a few weeks ago, an american army ship rescued dozens of Iranians who were going to sink in the ocean. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the americans a caring. U and others like u constantly keep banging on ur chest and say we hate the americans and the israeli's, when the truth is, deep down inside, u agree with most of there policies. I am telling u now majd, the americans are setting u up in a way u never thought possible. They want to indirectly prop up the shia in the region to counter and fight the sunni's in a massive sectarian war. U are playing right into there hands. The israels & americans will confortably relex on the sidelines while the sunn's & shia destroy each other. The hunger for power are blinding the shia. Good example of that is al-maliki.

    April 5, 2012

  • Hep

    “Friends of Syria” will only pay lip service and will use the Syrians as the cannon fodder in a civil war. They will not act as the “Coalition of the Willing” to “liberate” Syria by “shock and awe”. The U.S., by giving the Syrian rebels communications equipment, is now officially helping Syrians kill other Syrians….. --- See: “Syria: America Steps Onto The Slippery Slope” - Robert Wright

    April 5, 2012

  • Sami

    Majd, so killing of Berri or Aoun or Wahhab has no political consequences??!! so why is Nasrallah hiding undergroud???

    April 5, 2012

  • الى سالم

    Ok, fine, Israel assasinated Hariri. But maybe our friend majd can clarify some ambiguities for us. Did Israel also give order to the back then Assad-controlled security system to clear the crime scene in 3 days? Wisam Eid found clues through the mobile phone network that would lead to the conviction of Hizbollat, so why the hell would Israel kill Wisam Eid? Did Israel also kill Eido, Ghanem, Jemayel, Tuwaini and and and?? Tab why didnt they kill any Shia figure or anyone from 8 March to make a real fitna? If they were able to assassinate Hariri, is it really hard to assassinate someone from hizbollat or haraket fahsal and make a real sunni-shia fitna? I'm not really waiting for answers from you but plz stop patronizing us, your're just not that smart!!

    April 5, 2012

  • ali daoud

    @@Mick, comparing saddam with Bashar is naive from all aspects, Saddam is a stupid criminal, Bashar is a smart hero.

    April 4, 2012

  • ali daoud

    @@Mick, it`s not important who hanged Saddam, that was a natural result of the major event that the USA invaded Iraq and toppled him. the USA took the decision and that was the issue. look, when i oppose the USA policies it doesn`t mean i have to oppose all the consequences of the USA actions, simply because we got used to the proven fact that the USA often takes a decision which later proves it is not in its best interest. when the USA invaded Iraq it meant to control the Oil and encounter both Iran and syria and we all remember after the US invasion when Colin Powell came to syria and gave his demands for Bashar to comply with, Powell did so depending on the fact that his forces were deployed at the syrian border. Sure Bashar refused to compy and that`s when the 1559 UN was issued and later Hariri was killed to force syria out. the USA succeeded int toppling Saddam, but failed to guarantee the aftermath of that operation, however, Iran and syria played it well and gained from that.

    April 4, 2012

  • ali daoud

    @@Sami, any political assassination should have an important goal, we all know the drastic consequences of Hariri`s killing starting with the syrian`s withdrawal and changing the political identity of Lebanon to a pro-American one passing by the 2006 war meant to end Hizbullah and not ending by the fierce Shia vs Sunna struggle that started in Iraq and reached its peak in Lebanon. what single incident could incite the shia vs sunna struggle more than killing Hariri? killing pro-syria politicians surely will not serve the american interests knowing that the americans don`t care about the person himself wether he is alive or dead, they care about the benefit of his death, killing Michel Aoun will increase his Tayyar popularity, that`s obvious.

    April 4, 2012

  • Mick

    majd, giving orders is one thing to be discussed but pushing the trigger is another. Yes, the same people pulled the trigger. We all know who hanged saddam and we all know the people responsible for Hariri's death were uses of the red phone network. I'm suprised u talk so negative of the americans, not that I envy them or there policies. Shouldn't u be giving them credit for removing Saddam and handing Iraq to u on a silverplatter. U have this overblown rhetoric but, deep down inside, u are fairly comfortable with what the amerians have done in the region majd. Saddam Hussein's misfortunes stems from the fact that his political party, the baath party is the cause of all his insane policies and errors. It's ironic that bashar the girrafe, also subscribes to the same political idiology and is not ammune to much more, disastrous errors then saddam committed. If bashar had the opportunity to kill all of the sunni's in Syria, who probably would.

    April 4, 2012

  • Mick

    AGHFRAN AL MASSIEHEI, U have such a twisted logic I honestly don't have the time to entertain ur false conspiracies. You have thrown in so many conspiracy theories and narratives that just don't make sense. Saddam Hussein, committed many mistakes, including the terrible error of invading Kuwait. How can one invade a brotherly country? Saddam's terrible misjudgements stems from his political party. The baath party causes its leaders to commit crazy policies and makes them believe that they are invinsible and not accountable to anyone. Look at Bashar, the girrafe. He is trying to slaughter 20 million sunni's and leave his community Intact. The baath organisation is an outdated, stupid and pathetic party that needs to be dissolved from all the arab countries. Apart from that, Saddam's only postive policy was to prevent Iran, from gaining strength in the region.

    April 4, 2012

  • Sami

    Majd, If America killed Hariri, why doesn't America kill Michel Aoun and Wiaam Wahhab and Berri?

    April 4, 2012

  • الى سالم

    @AGHFRAN AL MASSIEHEI Obviously you got it all figure out confidently and cleverly, ya3ni the way you wrote looks like each of the mentioned were reporting to you daily in their plans. Anyways that's not the issue, la nsallem jadalan inno every single word you have mentioned is true and since obviously you outsmart us all, can you be humble and explain to us why would Israel even try to remove Assad?? I mean I could understand that Israel has reasons to kill hariri, though I'm 10mil % sure that Hassan nasrallat did it, but I just can't understand you creatures when you say that Israel wants to remove Assad badly!!! Lak kermel Allah read history, see how Assad granted Israel al joulan!!! My friend I kindly ask you to die bcoz your children are better off without your douchness

    April 3, 2012

  • ali daoud

    @@Mick, if those who removed Saddam and those who killed hariri are the same then it is the americans who did it. yes, the USA ad the filthy Gulf Arabs used and encouraged and financed Saddam`s war against Iran, but to Saddam`s bad luck and due to his short sightedness and due to his high trust in the Americans, Saddam ended up doing the big favors to the USA and later being toppled by the USA itself and his Gulf neighbours. that was the fair and just punishment for one like Saddam who dragged his nation in a two million victim war for no reason except fulfilling the wishes of the USA and saudi.

    April 3, 2012

  • AGHFRAN AL MASSIEHEI

    mick you are a silly chuck the AMERICANS AND ISREALIS WITH HELP OF KUWAITI AND SAUDIA ARABIA PLUS QATAR THEY WERE THE ONE S THAT BETRAYED THE SUNNI OMMAYAD EMPIRE THEY KILLED SADDAM AND THE BAATH OF IRAQ TODAY THEY DO THE SAME WITH SYRIA ,THEY ARE TIRELESSLEY TRYING TO DESTROY SYRIAS WILL TO LIVE SURVIVE AND CONFRONT ALL THE CONSPIRACIES ,JUST LIKE YESTERDAY THEY THE MOSSAD AND CIA KILLED HARRIRI ,SORRY THERES NOTHING IN THIS WORLD WILL CONVINCE ANYONE WITH A BRAIN THAT HIZBOLLAH AND SYRIA KILLED HARRIRI,THIS IS A MERE JOKE ,THE ZIONISTS INSTALLED AL MALIKI PLUS TODAY ABDUL JALIL IN LIBYA AND THE FOX IN TUNIS THEY CALL IT THE ARAB SPRING ITS THE CONTINUING ROAD MAP THEY SET UP AFTER THE 2006 ISREALI US INVASION OF STH LEBANON TO FINISH HIZBOLLAH.BUT WHAT HAPPENED THEY KEPT PLANNING TO FINISH OFF THE REMAINING RESOSTANCE ARAB VOICES SYRIA ,LIBYA ,PALESTINE AND ZIONIST MOUBARAK FINISHED HIS ERA AND OUT OF DATE.TODAY WE WITNESS A HOLOCAST AGAINST ASSADS SYRIAN LEGITIMATE GOVT BY TERRORIST

    April 3, 2012

  • Mick

    Ever since the removal of Saddam Hussein and the killing of Rafik Hariri, the region has dramatically changed for the benefit of Iran and its allies. The enormous vacuum left by these two leaders is huge and profound. Although, I never agreed with many policies of Saddam, including the repression he committed against his own people. None the less, he was the only leader who was able to put a strangle hold on Iran's influence. Now we have al-Maliki, who apparently refuses to share power with anybody and dislikes the Sunni’s of Iraq. He is very obedient to Iran due to his sectarian upbringing. Regarding Lebanon, Rafik Hariri was a powerful, central figure in Lebanon, and the Syrian regime knew that very well. The Syrian regime was concerned if Hariri's popularity would cross the border and so gave the order to assassinate him via Hezbollah. Witnessing the genocide and slaughter currently occuring in Syria, opened up my mind to many things I thought was impossible but true.

    April 3, 2012