WHAT to do when the party you have been backing loses sway?
That is the question facing Western supporters of the Syrian National Coalition. The rise of jihadists and the worsening sectarian strife in Syria is now putting Western backers of the rebel opposition in some kind of a quandary. As the jihadists are gaining in strength, some Western officials are now starting to advocate some form of political re-engagement with Bashar Assad, while others think the only course left is to work with devout Islamists who reject the extremists but who nonetheless refuse to be part of the coalition previously backed by the West. With negotiations forecasted to start on January 22nd, Western governments are still puzzling over which military factions to back on the ground.
The direct cause of this political mess is the actual growth of al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria. The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (Greater Syria), known as ISIS, the most ruthless of the groups, has spread across northern and eastern Syria, while another al-Qaeda group, Jabhat al-Nusra, still thrives. This has caused and still is causing alarm in Western capitals and among Syrians who mutter that the extremists may be even worse than a regime that has used fighter jets, barrel-bombs and chemical warfare against civilians. With Russia and Iran doggedly behind him, al-Assad has stood and still is holding firm.
Without any form of structured opposition, with all factions fighting one against the other, al-Assad will maintain power as long as he wants and there is nothing the western world can do about it.
Splits among the international community have provided the al-Assad government with a licence to kill. This licence must be withdrawn. The Assad government’s continued use of lethal force against its people is among the worst cases of deliberate violence against a civilian population that we have seen in recent years. There can be no excuse for such actions under any circumstances. In light of the heavy shelling of civilian areas and increasing casualties among women and children, we reiterate the fact that crimes against humanity have been committed and that All Mighty Bashar al-Assad and his accomplices must be stopped. The current impasse in international diplomatic strategy is leading us nowhere. To break the stalemate, we must see Russia, China and Israel brought to justice alongside Bashar al-Assad and all other international partners that are supporting him.
We, urge the Russian government to stop selling arms to al-Assad governments and to join collective efforts to bring a swift end to the conflict and restore peace and stability to Syria and its surrounding region. While we understand that there is no easy way out of this crisis for the United Nations Security Council, let it be known that there is a moral obligation to bridge the current impasse that lies with the members of the Security Council. Let there be no mistake, the credibility and international standing of anyone, any organization and nation standing idle or supportive in the face of the avoidable tragedy unfolding in Syria will be severely damaged for the future.
On the anniversary of Syria’s uprising, remember the thousands of lives lost in their pursuit of a more just and hopeful future. It is the responsibility of us all to prevent the potential deaths of thousands more men, women and children who so desperately need our help.
Iran, facing growing international pressure over its nuclear programme, is calling for more talks with the United Nations. While Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful, negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency have stalled and Western powers are increasingly concerned over the possible Iranian military dimensions of Tehran’s nuclear research.
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran is significantly stepping up its uranium enrichment, a finding that is sending oil prices higher on fears tensions between Tehran and the West could escalate into military conflict. While the Iranian government is still refusing to address intelligence reports about covert research relevant to developing nuclear weapons, Israel is threatening to launch preventive military strikes against Iran. For many, Iran’s failure to comply with its international obligations regarding its nuclear programme could easily escalate into possible military dimensions and for some, the West is guilty of double standards when backing Israel, the only Middle East state outside the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
There are only two possible issues of this conflict: one is engagement, cooperation and interaction; the other is confrontation and conflict.
Europe is now protected by a continent-wide missile defence system, developed and deployed by the US military. This continent-wide missile defence system been established in phases between 2011 and 2018.
Phase 1 saw the deployment of a land-based early warning radar system which Turkey agreed to host as well as ships United States of America in the Mediterranean. Phase 2 saw the creation of a land-based SM-3 interceptor site in Romania, a missile system initially used by the US Navy to intercept short to intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Phase 3, to counter short-medium and intermediate-range missile threats, added a more advanced SM-3 interceptor and a second land-based SM-3 site, which Poland agreed to host, located close to the Baltic Sea and Lithuania, roughly 50 miles from the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.
Initially, this defence shield resulted in a cooling of relations between the US and Russia, which initially expressed concerns over the presence of missiles so close to its border, viewing it as a security threat despite assurances from the US that the shield was for potential threats from Iran and the Middle East. and was neither designed nor capable of threatening the large numbers and sophisticated ability of Russia’s strategic forces.
At the end, after years of engagement, cooperation and diplomatic interaction, by 2035, Israel will lie in ruins.
By Holly Yan, CNN
Updated 8:57 AM EST, Sun February 5, 2012
(CNN) — As international leaders express outrage over mass killings in Syria — and lament the inability to pass a U.N. Security Council resolution denouncing the Syrian regime — questions linger about the two countries behind the impasse.
On Saturday, China and Russia vetoed a draft resolution that would have demanded Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stop the killing and answer calls aimed at finding a Syrian-led solution to the 11-month crisis.
Analysts say both China and Russia have their reasons to maintain good relations with Syria.
Russia is one of Syria’s biggest arms suppliers. And China ranked as Syria’s third-largest importer in 2010, according to data from the European Commission.
“Beijing’s renewed interest in Damascus—the traditional terminus node of the ancient Silk Road … indicates that China sees Syria as an important trading hub,” according to a 2010 report from The Jamestown Foundation, a Washington-based research and analysis institute.
Even as reports mounted that the Syrian government was killing protesters en masse, the Chinese foreign ministry issued a statement in August noting the “steady development” of friendly relations “over the past 50 years and more.”
“China and Syria gave each other understanding and support on issues concerning each other’s core and major interests,” the statement said. “China showed consistent understanding and firm support for Syria’s position on the Golan Heights while Syria remained committed to the one China position and rendered China staunch support on matters related to Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang and human rights.”
Last week, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations said the killing of innocent civilians must stop, but also said he is against “pushing through” a regime change.
An earlier version of the U.N. Security Council draft resolution called for al-Assad to step down and delegate his powers to his deputy, but that element was not in the draft voted on by members Saturday.
“China is of the view that the Syrian people’s request for reform and safeguard of their interests should be respected,” Li Baodong said Tuesday, according to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency. “It is imperative to put an immediate end to all violence in Syria and oppose and stop the killing of innocent civilians.
“At the same time, an inclusive political process with a wide participation of all Syrian parties must be started without delay to speed up reform and resolve differences and disputes peacefully through dialogue and consultations,” he said. Russia also has an economic interest in Syria.
The total value of Syrian contracts with the Russian defense industry likely exceeds $4 billion, according to Jeffrey Mankoff, an adjunct fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies Russia and Eurasia Program.
He noted the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimated the value of Russian arms sales to Syria at $162 million per year in both 2009 and 2010. Moscow also signed a $550 million deal with Syria for combat training jets.
Russia also leases a naval facility at the Syrian port of Tartus, giving the Russian navy its only direct access to the Mediterranean, Mankoff said.
As Western leaders sought to pry al-Assad from power, Moscow sent an aircraft-carrying missile cruiser to Syrian waters in a show of support last month and shipped Syrian troops a consignment of Yakhont cruise missiles, according to Daniel Treisman, a professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Speaking after the Saturday vote, ambassadors from both Russia and China said they do support an end to the violence but felt the resolution did not address the crisis properly.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the text “did not adequately reflect the real state of affairs and sent an unbalanced signal” to the various sides in Syria. He noted that the minister for foreign affairs will visit Damascus to hold a meeting with al-Assad this week.
Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong called on all parties in Syria to restore order as soon as possible. But he said the text would have served only to “complicate the issue” and would “prejudge the result of dialogue.”
China and Russia vetoed another Security Council resolution in October that would have called for an immediate halt to the crackdown, which United Nations officials have said resulted in an estimated 6,000 deaths since protests began nearly a year ago.
With the Security Council failing to approve a resolution, what happens next is unclear.
But as the diplomatic stalemate continues, the death toll in Syria climbs even higher. The Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition activists that organizes and documents protests, said the violence has killed more than 7,300.