Friday of last week, another bombing took place in Houla, Syria. More than 100 people died, 49 of those children. The attack came two-fold. First, there was a shelling of the area which required the use of heavy artillery. The two-pronged attack was finished by grounded militia, killing any survivors in the surrounding houses. While the Syrian government formally denies participation in the matter by blaming the attacks on “al-Qaeda linked terrorist groups” the region is believed to be the only party capable of such acts of violence with support from pro-government militia.
Only a few days after the Houla massacre, thirteen bodies were found bound with their hands behind their backs and shot in the head. Kofi Annan, the appointed head of the United Nationas (UN) envoy to Syria, has deemed this time as the “tipping point” in Syria. Mr. Annan met with Syrian President Assad over the weekend and on Tuesday following the massacre in Houla with the hope to negotiate an end to the violance.
- Coordinate with the UN Envoy in order to foster a relationship with the Syrian people.
- Stop all violence to promote stability, cease troop movements, and issue a cessation of armed violence so that the UN can receive the same commitment from the opposition.
- Coordinate a humanitarian response to those affected by the violence.
- Release those people who have been arbitrarily detained by the government.
- Allow freedom of movement throughout Syria for journalists.
- Legally guarantee the right to demonstrate peacefully.
The United Nations has tried to implement the six point plan since March without much success. Syria’s future is looking increasingly gloomy with the torrence of violence that continuous to grow. Civil war appears on the doorstep of Syria. The international community is aggravated and distraught over the current situation.
Earlier this week, the US along with 10 other nations expelled top Syrian diplomats from their respective countries. This is a response to the Houla slayings that took place last Friday. The US gave Zuheir Jabbour, the Syrian chargé d’affaires, 72 hours to leave the country. William Hague, Britain’s foreign secretary, enunciated on the expulsion of the Syrian diplomats as a way to “send a stark signal to President Assad and those around him that their actions have consequences and that they cannot act with impunity.”
While not in the current realm of action, the US military has said that it has prepared for possible military intervention in Syria if needed. However, the U.S. isn’t likely to engage Syria militarily without support from the UN and the global community. Other nations have taken a forceful stance against Syria as well by suggestions economic sanctions and assertive diplomacy, but based on past experience, the impact on the current levels of violence is likely to be minimal. The UN has attempted twice to take a harder approach against Syria. Unfortunately, both China and Russia exercised their veto power to prevent intervention in the area, even after the recent atrocities.
Over 12,000 people have died (according to the British Ambassador to the UN) since the uprisings last March. The situation isn’t static, everyday a new conflict arises. However, we may have seen a turning point in terms of international action in Syria as conditions worsen.
The future is certainly unpredictable for Syria, but the nation seem to be bracing for worse.
Summary by Wilson Hallett, Washington and Lee University