The Responsibility to Protect is not going to go away just because the international community is choosing to ignore it. Sooner or later the world has to acknowledge the serious nature of the situation in Syria, and come to terms with its responsibility to act more boldly in this connection. Let’s hope that by that time the mess will still manageable and that there will be enough goodwill left in the ranks of the protesters to facilitate the task.
Friday 27, 2012 – The day was dubbed “We have the right to defend ourselves.” Despite the freezing rain, over 550 rallies were reported throughout the country.
Today’s death toll: 102, including 6 children and 4 women. The Breakdown: 38 in Rural Damascus, 21 in Hama City, 15 in Nawa City (Deraa/Hauran Province), 14 in Aleppo City (Majreh), 10 in Homs City (including 2 children and a woman), 3 in Idlib.
The indiscriminate pounding of cities and neighborhoods and shooting using life ammunition at protesters continue throughout the country. Among the towns pounded today is the town of Rankoos in the Qalamoun Region north of Damascus where more than 20 locals were killed and dozens were wounded.
Clashes between defectors and loyalists were reported in Eastern Ghoutah in Rural Damascus.
In Hama City, the bodies of 14 people were found in five different locations, they belonged to locals who have been detained over the last few days by loyalist troops as part of the current crackdown.
Back on April 8, 2011 I wrote: “With the bat of an eyelid, a number of massacres could take place simultaneously, and the death toll could be enormous. We could easily wake up one day to find out that hundreds if not thousands of unarmed civilians have been killed overnight. That day could be tomorrow. Urgent Action is needed now.”
At the time I was arguing that “there is urgent need for an immediate international push to contain the situation before it escalates out of control. A strong message with warnings that violence would have major consequences needs to be sent to the Assads now, before it’s too late.”
The point: had world leaders heeded these warnings then, had policy experts took more time to examine the facts on the ground as they are not as they wished them to be, we might have been able to prevent these “predictions” from coming true.
Obviously it’s too late. We now have multiple massacres taking place simultaneously, and the challenge ahead of us is not how to prevent further escalation, but how to ensure that the right side, that is, the revolutionaries, prevails and soon. For in practical terms, an attempt at preventing further escalation, while reasonable on the surface of it, is actually an argument for doing nothing to support the rebels or to alleviate the suffering, in other words, it’s an argument for engaging in the same kind of good-for-nothing initiatives such as the Arab League Observer Mission. The simple truth, the one we have to finally confront, because the evidence in this regard is so damn overwhelming by now, is that the Assads are not the kind people with whom a reasonable dialog can be established. They are murderous thugs and it’s for the reign of terror to end.
For all the fears about the potential alternative, it’s the prospect of Assad survival, no matter how dim it seems, that we should fear not the dissolution of their regime. Each and every community that fell under the control of the protesters has been able to run its affairs without any major incidents taking place, not mention breakdown of social order. It’s only when loyalist troops invade the community that we see violence. In Homs City itself, and for all the talk about “tit-for-tat sectarian killings,” as some journalists put it, what we have in reality are dozens of cold-blooded massacres perpetrated by loyalists claiming thousands of lives compared to a handful of reported incidents that might have been motivated by vendettas, many of which, to boot, turn up to have the fingerprints of the regime all over them when examined closely.
The point: after 10 months of bloody crackdown, the ability of the protest leaders on the ground to keep the level of violence on their side in check bespeaks of high networking capability and sophisticated organization. Yes, protesters are fighting back now, there is armed resistance of sorts taking place, but it’s organized and disciplined. The future leaders of Syria are there on the ground and already taking charge of the situation. The smart thing to do at this stage is to engage them and support them, because this is the only scenario that will keep whole and stable.
While the Assads are busy trying to sew discord and chaos, the protest leaders have from the very onset of the revolution been trying to save the country from their machinations and protect its stability. As such, those interested in the long-term stability of Syria have to bet on change then hedge their bet by supporting the advocates and leaders of that change.