United Nations To Discuss New Action In Syria Amid Reports of a New Massacre
Activists in Syria accused on Thursday the Syrian troops and the militia loyal to Bashar al-Assad of another massacre in the village of Mazraat al-Qabeer, where they say that 78 people were killed, an information which has not been independently confirmed due to the difficult conditions in which the international media operates in this country.
Activists told Reuters that women and children were among the dead, as the village is said to have first come under shelling and then the ground troops moved in shooting and stabbing. Reuters cites activists who say that 40 women were killed in the operation, while Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is cited to say that the shabbiha militia entered the village after the bombardment and killed the people just like they are said to have done in the attack on Houla, on May 25, a massacre the international community blames on Syrian troops and this thugs militia called shabbiha.
Syrian state news agency said that the news about a massacre in Mazraat al-Qabeer were completely false, adding that the security forces intervened in the area after a “horrible crime” has been committed by a “terrorist group,” which is said to have killed nine women and children. The Syrian authorities have blamed the massacre of Houla on Islamists backed by foreign countries.
The Syrian National Council, which is the umbrella for the Syrian opposition organizations, called for stepped-up military assaults on Assad’s forces. The alleged new massacre comes after the president of Syria has appointed former Minister of Agriculture and Agrarian Reforms with forming a new government.
The international pressure mounted considerably on Syria in the wake of what came to be known as the “massacre of Houla,” prompting some of the skeptical analysts to say that the western countries are taking the “wag the dog” policy steps, as a photographer accused BBC of having illustrated the event in Houla with a picture he took in Iraq, where tens of children were being prepared for burial.
BBC’s error was considered by some analysts and people working in media a manipulation intended to prepare the way for a military invasion in Syria, in spite of the fact that the western countries seem reluctant to military intervention in the Arab state.
Similar media actions which allegedly happened in the run-up to military conflicts in the world have been conjured by those who said that the media exaggerated the proportions of the massacre so that the public be prepared for the decisions which could be made. The situation in Benghazi last year was invoked by those who believe in this kind of conspiracy.
The British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday demanded that concerted action be taken against Syrian president after the news about a new massacre. Cameron said that if the news are confirmed about the “brutal and sickening attack,” the international community should react.
The move of the British PM is not shared by Russia and China, which have expressed again their opposition to any military attack on Syria. The two states, members of the Security Council, which have opposed UNSC resolutions in the past, form with the Central Asian states a group called the Shanghai group, opposing a military option in Syria.
They advocate the need to stop violence in Syria, wherever it is coming from, and to engage in nationwide dialogue with the purpose of making a transition in the country, which would observe the integrity and sovereignty of Syria.
The Chinese Vice Foreign Minister said that in spite the Houla deaths, which were acknowledged even by the Syrian government, though it ascribed them to the international conspiracy forces, Russia and China still believe that the situation can be solved through cooperation and dialogue, and oppose what they deemed as “neo-interventionism.”
The two countries reasserted their commitment to the six-point peace plan of U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, which came into force on April 12 but never observed the first requirement, referring to the withdrawing of the heavy weaponry from the streets of the country.
Russia demanded an expanded meeting to discuss the situation in Syria, a meeting that would include Iran, as the Security Council is expected to be briefed on Thursday by Kofi Annan on the latest developments in the restive countries, at a time when the western countries already consider that the plan has failed and new action must be sought.
The western countries seem more inclined to apply economic sanctions on Syria rather than tackle the well prepared troops of the country, which could count on Iranian or Russian supply support. The sanctions were required by the Friends of Syria member states in Washington, and was discussed on Wednesday in Turkey, when a coordination group was agreed to be supported to the point of ensuring a smooth transition in Syria in the post-Assad era.
Kofi Annan for his part wants to create a contact group to include the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and local players like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar to break the deadlock of the negotiations and map out a “political transition” for Syria, which would include Assad stepping down and holding of new elections.
Kofi Annan compared his idea to the deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council at the end of last year in Yemen, where president Saleh was allowed to flee the country in exchange for his departure. Annan said that his proposal was “vaguely similar” to the solution found for Yemen, which brought the UNSC criticism from the Yemeni population, which wanted their former president prosecuted to the fully extent of the law.
The former U.N. secretary general said that the key to his new plan was to get Russia to admit a political transition for Syria, after Russia announced that it supported the Syrian people and not a regime in particular, and directed a sharp criticism against the government in Damascus on the occasion on the latest developments in the country.
Reuters cites some diplomatic sources to say that in case the contact group came to a deal on Syria, Assad could depart for Russia, which is said to have offered him exile. It was not clear whether the deal included this part of Russian exile or it was a speculation of the sources.
Early this year, when asked a question on the matter, the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, said there had not been any talk in Russia about an exile for Bashar al-Assad, and added that the topic was not appropriated for that moment. There is no information about a change of heart in Moscow.
In February, there was a media speculation related to a possible exile offer for Assad from Tunisia, as the Tunisian French-language daily La Presse was expected to publish an interview of the president Marzouki, who is said to have offered asylum to both Assad and his political cronies, in a move which would have at least been very ironic, since Tunisia is the country which first toppled its dictator. No development followed that media report.
Media reports also say that it is possible that an offer for Assad’s exile to be Iran, one of its staunch supporters. None of these suppositions are confirmed by officials. Before addressing the UNSC, Kofi Annan, the incumbent U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-moon, and the Arab League secretary general Nabil Elaraby, are expected to address the General Assembly of the United Nations. It is not clear whether they will demand an extension for the 90-day U.N. observers mission in Syria.11