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Syrian Uprising “Bloodiest” of the Arab Spring

Syrian Uprising “Bloodiest” of the Arab Spring

The Syrian government has reportedly agreed to a six-point peace plan proposed by Kofi Annan, special envoy from the United Nations and the Arab League, to end the year-long conflict. But activists and Lebanese military officers reported that the Syrian government’s troops and rebels had clashed heavily on the border on Tuesday. At least 9,000 people have died in the uprising which has become the “bloodiest and most sustained of the Arab Spring,” says the New York Times.

Western diplomats were skeptical about President Bashar al-Assad’s response, accusing him of seeking — as he has down a number of times throughout the uprising — to bide his time and divide the opposition. Robert Ford, the US ambassador to Syria, said that

“We will see exactly what Assad has said. I have to tell you that my own experience with him is you want to see steps on the ground and not just take his word at face value.”

Russia and China have blocked efforts by the United Nations to propose a diplomatic solution to the crisis and have twice vetoed UN Security Council resolutions requiring that Assad stepped down. But both countries have slowly seemed to be more open to negotiate as Assad’s government has continued with its bloody crackdown of its own citizens in areas including Idlib in the north and Dera’a in the south.

Al Jazeera reports that Assad has visited the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, according to SANA, Syria’s state news agency. Assad told residents that “Life will return to normal in Baba Amr, better than it was before” as he inspected a neighborhood wrecked in the weeks-long siege of Homs, an epicenter of resistance. Homs had been under the control of the Syrian Free Army, which agreed to withdraw as the siege continued and residents were increasingly desperate as stores of water, food and medical supplies ran out.

Is Assad Just Biding His Time Again?

Annan’s proposed plan would still mean that Assad would be able to negotiate a transition, just as former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh was able to. Saleh dragged out his exit from power over months and rejected deals brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council numerous times before agreeing to transfer power to his vice president and it seems not unlikely that Assad might do the same.

As the Guardian observes, last fall, “Damascus accepted a peace plan put forward by the Arab League and then spent weeks haggling over the ‘modalities’ of issues such as access for monitors.” By January, the Arab League mission was widely “condemned… as a fig leaf for continuing state repression,” with reports of killings as outside observers entered Syria.

Hoshiyar Zebari, the Iraqi foreign minister, has said that the Arab League woud support a transfer of power led by Syria.

Syrian Opposition Still Not Unified

The Syrian National Council (SNC), the largest opposition group, was cautious in its response to Assad’s announcement of Annan’s peace proposal. Basma Kodmani, a spokesman in Istanbul, emphasized that “a peaceful transition means that the regime needs to be changed” and thatAssad must step down. Concerns have been raised that some members of the opposition, which is not yet unified, might enter into talks with the Syrian government. Noting the opposition’s lack of trust for the Assad regime, activist activist Louay Safi said that “we are not sure if it’s political manoeuvring or a sincere act.”

The Friends of Syria, which is made up of the US and its European and Arab partners, will meet in Istanbul on Monday to discuss additional measures to further isolate Assad and unite the yet-divided opposition groups.

Previous Care2 Coverage

EU Imposes Travel Ban, Assets Freeze on Syrian First Lady

Natalie Portman, Patrick Stewart and Susan Sarandon Unite for Syria

Russia Denies Its Troops Are in Syria, Accused of Stalling For Assad

 

 

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Graphic by Carlos Latuff via Wikimedia Commons

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24 comments

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3:19AM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

Nancy R, for goodness sake. What legitimate government with the majority support from its people would not fight an externally armed and directed revolt?

7:39PM PDT on Mar 28, 2012

this constant rhetoric is futile
watching bbc this evening the report from un commission
"children are being tortured and killed"

2:26PM PDT on Mar 28, 2012

John D. Are you kidding?! Do the people being shelled in Homs and Idlib experience the Syrian government as "moderate and reformist" while they are dying or fleeing through mine fields placed at the borders by that same benign government?!!! How can you say that the majority of the people support Assad when he was handed the presidency upon his father's death and there has never been a real election? His supporters are those who gain from association with him, or are suffering from mass Stockholm Syndrome.

The rebels are responsible for some of the violence, with the big difference that they have vastly inferior and fewer weapons, but more importantly, they are not deliberately, systematically targeting civilians - even children - as the Assad regime IS.

There is no good solution to this crisis, at least not one that is likely to happen. I don't see the regime and the various rebel groups laying down their arms to talk, unless it's to play "chicken." Doing nothing is unacceptable, but intervening militarily in support of the rebels (which ones, anyway?) is just as unacceptable. Hence humanitarian corridors and aid. Hence diplomacy with Syria's powerful allies, Russia and China, and pressure put on Russian arms manufacturers to stop supplying the Syrian regime. And to that end, pressure on the DOD to stop doing business with those same companies.

11:06AM PDT on Mar 28, 2012

Mark G

I used to live in Syria. I saw a vibrant modernising society, doing well to redistribute wealth despite the sanctions on it and its isolation. The government of al-Assad is legitimate, for heaven's sake. And it enjoys majority support. The armed rebels are just that, people armed and directed from the outside by the West and its allies in the most repressive Gulf states.

Do you think Martin L and I welcome death? Quite the reverse. Your wishes would entrench dark forces, also allied to al Qaeda, in Syrian life and overthrow a government that was seen as moderate and reformist until the propagandists started their filthy trade. And your way would lead to far more death and destruction than anything else, as well as the shattering of a secular country.

10:06AM PDT on Mar 28, 2012

Mark G

I used to live in Syria. I saw a vibrant modernising society, doing well to redistribute wealth despite the sanctions on it and its isolation. The government of al-Assad is legitimate, for heaven's sake. And it enjoys majority support. The armed rebels are just that, people armed and directed from the outside by the West and its allies in the most repressive Gulf states.

Do you think Martin L and I welcome death? Quite the reverse. Your wishes would entrench dark forces, also allied to al Qaeda, in Syrian life and overthrow a government that was seen as moderate and reformist until the propagandists started their filthy trade. And your way would lead to far more death and destruction than anything else, as well as the shattering of a secular country.

9:44AM PDT on Mar 28, 2012

Eleições livres e justas e o mundo tem que fazer algo para que haja paz na Siria

7:45AM PDT on Mar 28, 2012

To me, it is not relevant whether a person is a Zionist or not, what is relevant is the bloodshed on the ground. Yes, both sides have created a massacre, it see,s that the opposition to the Government is doing what many are incapable of doing, they are standing up to a Government that has not been willing to listen and act accordingly.
I have the misfortune of having lost 22 friends in the uprising, these are friends, not acquaintances, these were people, they had feelings and emotions, they were part of a family unit. I understand that if Bashar al Assad remains in control, I will probably not be issued a Visa, after all, I have made no secret of this massacre, I have made no secret to the fact that I am a believer in Human Rights.
Syria and Russia have a long established relationship, they are comrades, after all, the Russians use Lattakia as a major port, Syria is the largest purchaser of arms from Russia, when one wlaks the streets of Syria, the soldiers of the Syrian Army are definitely posturing like the Russian Army. I have no desire to defend the actions of the Syrian Government, what has transpired is a definite Genocide, one only need to look at the neighborhood of Bab Amr in Homs, it is a ghost town. Is it a coincidence that the family of the First Lady of Syria comes from Homs?
President al Assad needs to step down, the majority of Syrians do not trust him, they do not believe his lies, they are afraid of him, that is exactly how the al Assad family

7:23AM PDT on Mar 28, 2012

Michael M.

You advocate intervention. Is that the same as we saw in Libya? So rather than looking for a peaceful solution you want to up the anti in favor of more deaths as intervention risks greater bloodshed, violence and peace will never be attained.

You are heavily influenced by main stream media who act as propaganda for bloody intervention in sovereign states affairs.

We need to allow peaceful means to settle what has become mindless violence on both sides of this conflict.

Look at what is happening in Syria, two sides are involved in the bloodshed, or do you still believe the lie that only one side carries arms in this conflict and that only one side has carried out violence against the civilian population?

If that is what you believe, then carry on spouting your naive view points, but do not try and tell me and others that I am - "spreading this misinformation (and am) just as responsible for all of these deaths as Assad himself"

7:18AM PDT on Mar 28, 2012

People are being killed, John, it doesn't matter who is supplying the numbers, there's pictures of bloody people to prove it

6:32AM PDT on Mar 28, 2012

*massacres

and P.S. everyone here who's participating in spreading this misinformation are just as responsible for all of these deaths as assad himself.

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