Massacre in Syria Leaves 200 Dead: Will This Force the International Community's Hand?


Nothing good is coming out of Syria. Bashar al-Assad is adamant on turning a deaf ear to international criticism and pleadings by human rights activists to stop killing his own people. The UN Security Council has been held hostage by Russia and China and can't even pass a meek condemnatory resolution. The Arab League, after much delay, seems to have gained its footing. It, along with Turkey, holds the key to Syria's problems. It is time to draft a final solution for Syria. One which looks at the post-Assad picture.

Syrian forces reportedly killed over 200 people on Saturday in the city of Homs, the bloodiest day in the 11-month uprising in the country. What could have been better celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Hama massacre for Assad, in which dad killed 40,000 Syrians, than to kill hundreds more on a single day? If unstopped, it will only be a few months before he crosses the gory benchmark set by his father. Senior Assad had the support of the Soviet Union, junior Assad also enjoys the backing of Russia. The irony does not stop here. The international community remained silent at the Hama pogroms. It remains divided on how to respond to contemporary atrocities.

One can come up with weak explanations of the past follies of the international community. That was another era. One in which the world was divided between the communist and capitalist blocks. Not any more. Modern Russia is only a shadow of its past might. It may huff and puff but that is all it can do. The skeletons of its not-so-recent past and its glorious human rights record gives it the lowest, if any, moral ground in the current discussion on Syria. The same is the case with China.

This brings us to the stalled resolution in the Security Council. The Arab League plan, which explicitly called for Assad to step down, has been watered down to please Russia. The latter is still threatening to veto the lifeless resolution. This is where the international community can call Russia's bluff. Moscow's economic interests are intertwined with Europe. Putin and Medvedev know fully well that they cannot afford an international isolation.

This means that the Security Council may ultimately pass a resolution. The outcome: diplomatic jargon but no practical steps. The UN is currently unable to do anything for the beleaguered Syrians. The Arab League ultimately has to take some action. And Turkey. Ankara was among the first to condemn Assad's brutalities. It is also the one that is housing thousands of Syrian refugees. Perhaps it is time for Ankara and the Arab League to start planning for a humanitarian intervention in Syria.

It will not be an easy option. While Russia will not come to Assad's help, Iran and Hezbollah will. They are already aiding and abetting the murderous regime. There may not be an open confrontation but Iran and its proxy can launch massive sabotage campaign in the region. Broader international support, especially from the United States and NATO, is thus required to counter this threat.

The encouraging thing is that the Iran-Hezbollah duo has lost whatever little credibility it had on the Arab Street. Iran made a fool of itself by hosting a conference on the Arab Spring while shutting down discussion on Syria. Hezbollah has lost it by coming out in full support of the Assad regime. Ayatollah-apologists, who masquerade as sympathizers of the Arabs, have lost it by glorifying Assad and setting new standards of bigotry in the process.

There is anger on the Arab Street. Something has to be done about Syria. Time for implementing the final solution is approaching. The ball is the Arab League and Turkey's court. The onus lies on international conscience.

Photo Credit: Watchsmart