Syria

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Syria

Post by Miles1 on Thu Feb 09, 2012 12:10 pm

Crisis in Syria: International 'militarisation' growing closer, warns US official

THE international community may be forced to 'militarise' the crisis in Syria unless president Bashar al-Assad stops the onsalught on his people, a senior US official has warned.

The official from the State Department told The Daily Telegraph that while the White House wants to exhaust all its diplomatic options, the debate in Washington has shifted away from diplomacy and towards more robust action since Russia and China blocked a United Nations resolution condemning Syria.

The Pentagon’s Central Command has begun a preliminary internal review of US military capabilities in the region, which one senior official called a “scoping exercise” that would provide options for the president if and when they were requested.

The White House said it was talking to allies about holding a “Friends of Syria” meeting in the near future and was considering delivering humanitarian aid to affected areas in the country.

“We are, of course, looking at humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people, and we have for some time. We’re consulting with our international partners, and we anticipate this being one of the focuses of the discussions that we’ll have,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary.

Influential figures in Washington have recommended setting up a “humanitarian corridor” or safe haven, while others, such as Senator John McCain, have said it was time to consider arming the rebels of the Free Syrian Army.

Any plan to supply aid or set up a buffer zone would involve a military dimension to protect aid convoys or vulnerable civilians.

“The decision-makers have not determined we are at a point of no return,” the senior official told The Daily Telegraph. “There is still a window, it is just that that window is closing.

“I don’t know how much longer it is going to go on before people start looking at what else is on the table, because nothing is off the table.

“We definitely don’t want to militarise the situation. If it’s avoidable we are going to avoid it. But increasingly it looks like it may not be avoidable,” he said.

“There is always hope that this can be solved without it turning into a full-scale civil war and without the use of force, but it really involves Bashar al-Assad receiving the wake-up call.” Any outside military involvement in Syria has been regarded as more difficult and more risky than the mission in Libya.

It has a complex geography and ethnic mix and is the linchpin of a volatile region. But since the Russian veto at the UN, there is no doubting an extra urgency in the attitude of concerned governments and agencies.

Navi Pillay, the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, called for swift action to safeguard Syrians targeted by the security forces.

She stressed the “extreme urgency for the international community to cut through the politics and take effective action to protect the Syrian population”.

An estimated 6,000 people have died since the start of the upheaval that began with protests in March 2011 amid the Arab Spring.

Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, proposed holding a conference “as soon as possible” to “promote international understanding with all countries concerned”. He is due to hold further talks in Washington soon with Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State.

Ünal Cevikoz, the Turkish ambassador to Britain, said delivering humanitarian aid could be discussed at the proposed conference, but like the Western powers, he said his country remained against military options, including arming the Free Syrian Army.

He denied reports that discussions on military options between the US and Turkey were already under way.

“Humanitarian aid may become necessary. There is growing scarcity of food that may lead to famine. It is a serious crime not only to kill but to create the conditions of exterminating a city and its people,” he added, referring to the city of Homs, which Mr Assad’s forces have bombarded for five days.

The Turkish initiative would run parallel, he said, to the “Friends of Syria”, but it would aim to bring together a broader range of nations.

“Today we are at a very critical juncture and the international community has to take the initiative and has to move forward with strong messages to the Syrian regime,” said Mr Cevikoz.

Turkey, which has a 560-mile border with Syria, has been at the forefront of international criticism against Damascus and has become a haven for opposition activists. After 11 rounds of sanctions against Syria, the European Union is also discussing further sanctions, including freezing the assets of Syria’s central bank, banning the importation of Syrian phosphates and suspending trade in gold and other gems.

“We’re trying to make things change,” said a senior EU official. “We’re facing a wall, and we have to find a way of climbing over that wall and moving ahead.”

The opposition to Mr Assad has been calling for a humanitarian corridor or buffer zone or a Friends of Syria group for months. The Syrian National Council, the principal opposition body, endorsed military intervention in December.

The Arab League has shown unprecedented initiative in drawing up a plan for democratic transition in Syria. Qatar, the current president of the 22-nation group, is rumoured to be secretly supplying rebels as it did in Libya.

Radwan Ziadeh, a member of the SNC executive, said the US had to take a more prominent role. “Everyone is waiting for signals from Washington,” he said.

- Alex Spillius

http://www.independent.ie/world-news/middle-east/crisis-in-syria-international-militarisation-growing-closer-warns-us-official-3014787.html

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Re: Syria

Post by Dennis324 on Thu Feb 09, 2012 6:14 pm

I hope we dont get in that mess too deeply. If the Arabs are fighting amongst themselves, perhaps they'll not be worrying so much about killing Jews.

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Re: Syria

Post by Bryant on Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:56 pm

Dennis324 wrote:I hope we dont get in that mess too deeply. If the Arabs are fighting amongst themselves, perhaps they'll not be worrying so much about killing Jews.

There are serious problems, and some signs that the government is engaging in what could amount to genocide against the majority religious sect. This article discusses this in greater detail.

As for how the Syrian uprising has impacted Hamas, you this.
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Re: Syria

Post by Bryant on Sun Feb 12, 2012 1:08 pm



U.S. Says Satellite Images Show Weaponry Syria Is Using Against Civilians
by Eyder Peralta
NPR News


The United States has declassified a series of satellite images it says show the kinds of weaponry the Syrian regime is using against its own people.

The first image was released on the Facebook page of the U.S. Embassy in Damascus. It was accompanied by a note from Embassador Robert Ford, who in the past has taken to Facebook to criticize the regime of President Bashar Assad.

In his post, Ford says leaving Syria, after the U.S. government suspended work at the embassy, was "without exaggeration ... the most emotionally taxing day of my career as a Foreign Service Officer."

Ford added that blaming the protesters for any of the violence is wrong because "the Syrian government consistently initiates the attacks on civilian areas, and it is using its heaviest weapons."

To that end, Victoria Nuland, spokeswoman for the State Department, described the satellite image like this:

"Declassified U.S. national imagery [shows the] destruction of Homs, very gruesome pictures showing lines of tanks, showing fires, showing the kind of thing that you really only see if you have a major military attacking in a civilian area," Nuland said. "Our intent here is to obviously expose the ruthlessness or the brutality of this regime and its overwhelming predominant military advantage and the horrible kinds of weaponry that it's deploying against its people."

Today, the State Department declassified some more images, which it says shows "artillery operationally deployed" toward different Syrian cities.

CNN's says the images are part of "stepped up intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations over Syria."

Quoting an unnamed "senior U.S. official," CNN reports that the U.S. is trying to corroborate the reports that are coming out of Syria.
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Re: Syria

Post by Bryant on Sun Feb 12, 2012 1:12 pm

Here is the DOS page the article referenced. It contains a series of aerial imagery depicting the deployment of artillery, tanks, and impact craters.

Is it just me, or do you guys think its strange that the Department of State would be releasing intelligence data like this? What do you think their purpose is?
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Re: Syria

Post by Miles1 on Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:05 am

Syria: US says it will 'consider other measures' to end bloodshed

THE United States appeared to open the door to eventually arming the Syrian opposition, saying if a political solution to the crisis were impossible it might have to consider other options.

The comments, made by officials at both the White House and the State Department, marked a shift in emphasis by Washington, which thus far has stressed its policy of not arming the opposition and has said little about alternatives.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with representatives of some 70 countries in Tunis on Friday for the first "Friends of Syria" meeting to coordinate the international community's next steps to respond the nearly year-long uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"We still believe that a political solution is what's needed in Syria," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

"We don't want to take actions that would contribute to the further militarisation of Syria, because that could take the country down a dangerous path. But we don't rule out additional measures."

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, asked if the United States was shifting its stance on arming the rebels, said Washington did not want to see the violence increase and was concentrating on political efforts to halt the bloodshed.

"That said ... if we can't get Assad to yield to the pressure that we are all bringing to bear, we may have to consider additional measures."

She declined to elaborate on what those measures might be.

The official comments on Tuesday followed a cautious assessment from General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told CNN over the weekend that Washington still did not know enough about Assad's opponents.

"Until we're a lot clearer about who they are and what they are, I think it would be premature to talk about arming them," General Dempsey said.

Syrian government forces killed more than 60 people on Tuesday in assaults on villages and an artillery barrage on the restive city of Homs, activists said. The Red Cross called for daily ceasefires to allow in urgently needed aid.

The United States and its allies hope this week's Tunis meeting will allow them to begin drawing up a plan for Syria after Russia and China vetoed a Western-backed Arab League peace plan at the UN Security Council.

US officials suggest the meeting will focus on ways to increase economic pressure on Assad through additional sanctions and to ramp up humanitarian relief for victims of the repression.

But Arab diplomats have suggested that formal or informal moves to arm the rebels may also be discussed.

Some US politicians such as Republican Senator John McCain support efforts to arm the Syrian rebels – if not directly by the United States, then by other countries or third parties.

"There are ways to get weapons to people who are fighting against this kind of oppression, we showed that in Libya," Mr McCain told reporters on a visit to Jerusalem.

"To somehow sit by and watch this massacre continue without exploring and employing every option that we possibly can to stop it is a betrayal of everything the United States stands for and believes in."

With both Russia and Iran firmly backing Assad's government, political analysts say tacit U.S. support for arming rebel fighters could be risky given Syria's complex ethnic and religious make-up and strategically important position.

"Force employed by the Friends of Syria should be the last step of an escalatory ladder," Robert Danin, a Middle East expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in an opinion piece on Tuesday.

"Arming the Free Syrian Army and other opposition groups may eventually help topple Assad, but it also increases the potential for a fractured or failed state."

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Re: Syria

Post by Bryant on Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:16 pm

Journalists Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik die in Homs

Two prominent Western journalists have been killed in the Syrian city of Homs in the latest violence in the besieged city which left 20 people dead.

Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin, an American, and award-winning French photographer Remi Ochlik died when a shell hit a makeshift media centre in the Baba Amr district.

Opposition-held areas of Homs have been besieged since 4 February.

Thousands have died in unrest against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

More than 40 people died on Tuesday alone, including Rami al-Sayed, a man who broadcast a live video stream from Homs used by world media.

Mr Sayed was fatally wounded by shrapnel during the shelling of Baba Amr. His brother posted a video of his body in a makeshift hospital.

The Red Cross has called on the government and rebels to agree to a daily ceasefire, to allow medical supplies to reach the worst affected areas and get civilians out, but there is no sign yet of this being agreed.
'Dreadful events'

Ms Colvin and Mr Ochlik were reportedly staying in a house in Baba Amr that was being used by activists as a media centre when it was hit by a shell on Wednesday morning.

Rockets were also said to have hit the building's garden when people tried to flee afterwards.

At least two other foreign journalists were wounded, activists said.

One was named as British freelance photographer Paul Conroy, who was working with Ms Colvin, and Edith Bouvier of the French newspaper, Le Figaro. Ms Bouvier was said to be in a serious condition. The dead and the injured journalists are said to have been taken to a field clinic in Baba Amr.

Syrian state television said the information ministry had asked officials in Homs to determine the location of foreign journalists because it had learned that some may have been injured.

In Paris, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said the deaths were "another demonstration of the degradation of the situation in Syria and of a repression that is more and more intolerable".

UK Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament: "This is a desperately sad reminder of the risks that journalists take to inform the world of what is happening, and the dreadful events in Syria."

The US state department referred to "another example of the shameless brutality" of the Syrian regime.

The editor of the Sunday Times, John Witherow, said it was doing what it could to recover Ms Colvin's body and get Mr Conroy to safety.
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Re: Syria

Post by Miles1 on Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:20 am

UK under pressure as Saudis back arms for Syrian rebels

BRITAIN and its Western allies came under intense pressure last night to drop their opposition to military intervention in the crisis in Syria, as Saudi Arabia called directly for the arming of the opposition.

Foreign ministers of more than 60 nations met in Tunis to thrash out the next steps in applying pressure to the Assad regime, with William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary, and his French counterpart, Alain Juppe, leading the way in calling for more economic sanctions.

But Saudi Arabia left the first Friends of Syria conference halfway through, demanding that it go further. The foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, said he supported supplying weapons. "I think it's an excellent idea," he said.

Qatar and Tunisia called for an Arab force to be sent in to help end the killings and open humanitarian corridors. The forthright Arab approach was backed by the Syrian National Council, the opposition umbrella group newly strengthened by a draft communique, in which it was recognised as "a legitimate representative of Syrians seeking peaceful democratic change".

Its leader, Burhan Ghalioun, said that the conference "did not meet the aspirations of the Syrian people".

Western diplomats said military intervention, even the supply of arms to the Free Syrian Army, would see the conflict possibly descend into civil war, while accepting that the provision of arms, perhaps by their Gulf allies, might be a later option. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

So, what's stopping the Arab League from going ahead and arming the rebels themselves, or even (gods forbid), intervening themselves? The Saudis in particular bought billions in equipment from the US over the years, why not actually use some of it? Or is it going to be like Libya, they'll be all for intervention so long as they don't have to intervene and take some of the blame if things go bad? If the African Union can show enough balls to intervene in places like Somalia, why can't the Arab League from growing a pair?

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