Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Assad, UN Security Council equally blind

  • Print

Syrian President Bashar Assad delivered a speech Sunday that had the virtue, at least, of offering clarity. No, he insisted, he would not step down. He would not negotiate with the rebels who control much of the countryside and parts of major cities. He would not consider the compromise "transition" proposal being peddled by a UN envoy with the backing of his ally Russia, as well as the United States. Instead, he said, he would fight to the end against "enemies of God and puppets of the West."

The State Department offered a succinct judgment on Mr. Assad's hour-long speech, his first in six months: "His initiative is detached from reality, undermines the efforts of (UN) Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, and would only allow the regime to further perpetuate its bloody oppression of the Syrian people." After 22 months of protests and civil war in which his regime has steadily lost ground, Mr. Assad is offering the same hollow political formulas and slogans about terrorists that to which he has clung all along.

The tragedy is there is scant sign Mr. Assad will be compelled to face reality any time soon. Despite their gains, Syria's rebels continue to lack the heavy weapons necessary to break the regime's hold over Damascus or to stop the artillery, missiles and planes Mr. Assad is using to pummel cities. With the United States and other Western governments refusing to help, recent reports have said rebel arms supplies are drying up.

Last week, UN human rights commissioner Navi Pillay estimated more than 60,000 people have been killed in Syria, a "massive loss of life (that) could have been avoided if the Syrian government had chosen to take a different path than one of ruthless suppression of what were initially peaceful and legitimate protests by unarmed civilians." She added: "Unless there is a quick resolution to the conflict, I fear thousands more will die or suffer terrible injuries as a result of those who harbour the obstinate belief that something can be achieved by more bloodshed, more torture and more mindless destruction."

The Assad speech made clear the ruler and his clique remain locked in that belief. But it also illuminated the fecklessness of U.S. policy. The same State Department statement that began by condemning Mr. Assad for undermining Mr. Brahimi concluded by saying that the Obama administration would continue to support the latter's initiative, along with the "framework for a political solution" the dictator had just rejected. As with the Syrian regime, the administration has become impervious to fact or real-world developments.

Mr. Assad is not the only one who will bear responsibility for the frightful carnage Ms. Pillay's agency has documented. As she put it, "the failure of the international community, in particular the (UN) Security Council, to take concrete actions to stop the bloodletting, shames us all." Syrians, she said, have "repeatedly asked: 'Where is the international community? Why aren't you acting to stop this slaughter?' We have no satisfactory answer to those questions. Collectively, we have fiddled at the edges while Syria burns."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 9, 2013 A6

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

New Pornographers frontman says latest album is band's 'best'

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A group of Horese pose for the camera in the early evening light at Southcreek Stables in Stl Norbert Wednessday. Sept  14, 2011 (RUTH BONNEVILLE) / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project. Baby peregrine falcons. 21 days old. Three baby falcons. Born on ledge on roof of Radisson hotel on Portage Avenue. Project Coordinator Tracy Maconachie said that these are third generation falcons to call the hotel home. Maconachie banded the legs of the birds for future identification as seen on this adult bird swooping just metres above. June 16, 2004.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should panhandling at intersections be banned?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google