Syria's Turning Point - was this the week that the 'protest' changed?

Published June 3rd, 2012 - 11:00 GMT

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Bashar al Assad and Vladimir Putin talk Syria's tipping point.
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Image 1 of 12: Russia & China finally showed signs of bailing on Assad, & it seemed like no coincidence that the Syrian crisis looked to be tipping into a Libya scenario. They joined the UN chorus in condemning the regime on Sunday only to balk again by Wednesday. Not willing to convert oral statements to military action, they renewed support for the regime.

Marie Colvin died in Syria: the protest's tipping point.
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Image 1 of 12: American journalist Marie Colvin along with other foreign reporters dies in the February shelling in Homs after government soldiers randomly shell the city. There are civilian casualties and an outcry but no changes come of what is still cited as an accidental or collateral damage from the crisis.

Syria mass graves discovered in Homs.
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Image 1 of 12: Mass graves are discovered in Idleb and Homs, with rumors of them elsewhere, ahead of the emergence of the Houla massacre story.

Houla's dead kid line-up is a tipping point.
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Image 1 of 12: Parade of Houla's dead innocents: news breaks of the Houla massacre, although there's still some confusion over exactly what happened. Images are transmitted to the world of row upon row of dead children. Most of these innocents were shot at point-blank range or slashed with knives, tell reports.

Kofi Annan talking up peace for Syria for tipping point
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Image 1 of 12: When an international diplomat gets blunt: Kofi Annan, envoy on Syria jointly to the UN & Arab League gets serious with Assad. He condemns the massacre & is echoed by global echo chambers. Peace-keeper Kofi accused the transgressing Syrian President's forces of atrocities, and said in no uncertain terms that he must implement the peace-plan.

Syrian embassy in Australia expels diplomats in a tipping point.
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Image 1 of 12: Britain, France & other western countries expel Syrian diplomats. The restated support by Moscow & Beijing for the Damascus regime returned with a vengeance as many western nations, including the US & France expelled Syrian diplomats in the fallout of last Friday’s Houla massacre, after France put the idea of armed intervention on the table.

King Abdullah of Saudi declares Arabs will intervene in Syria.
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Image 1 of 12: The Arab League condemns the Houla murders and Saudi is among members calling for Arab intervention. Arab diplomats abroad are cited as declaring their willingness to act by now - with 'all cards on the table.' With Syria, the Arabs have been keen to try to take care of their own issues to avoid international the need for 'interference'.

Sarejevo in ruins: Bosnia gets compared to Syria Houla massacre.
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Image 1 of 12: The UN comes under fire for not doing nearly enough to protect civilians. Some people say it's a re-run of Darfur, or Bosnia's Srebrenica massacre where an effective response to what is hailed a genocide was slow in the offing. Responses included 'monitors' and peace-keepers who failed to protect citizens from harm.

Hazem Shahabi resigns in the week that tips the Syrian conflict.
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Image 1 of 12: More of the diplomatic fallout to Houla sees the Syrian Consul General, Hazem Chehabi, in California resigning. After reports deem Houla a series of executions by government thugs, this shame-faced Syrian representative to the US steps down, thus severing his own professional and personal ties to Assad.

destruction in Iraq compared to Syria.
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Image 1 of 12: Will Syria be another Libya or Iraq? Are we seeing a heavy-handed international need for intervention by NATO on the horizon? Libya's parallel is a strong one as NATO intervened when the leader got nasty with his own people after they started to protest his leadership.

Eager Lion military drill rehearsed in Jordan.
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Image 1 of 12: Jordan's military get mobilised: The "Eager Lion 2012" drill- one of a series- started earlier this month and revved up last week in Jordan. Many see this military warm-up exercise as an indication of anticipated military intervention into Syria to be waged by Arab forces in collusion with western allies.

sabra and shatila massacre compared to Syria's Houla.
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Image 1 of 12: Syria turns into a house-by-house sweep. It often takes a massacre or genocide to offer the world a grim-enough picture to necessitate foreign meddling. Sabra & Shatila did that for the Palestinian problem. Houla, where empty houses were burnt to the ground & inhabitants sprayed with bullets, has given Syria a face that needs saving.

The final week of May is the last week the Syrian conflict could be considered as something of an offspring of the Arab Spring. What started out as a protest in Derra is now, come the Houla massacre, a whole different warring ballgame, and something the international community, not least the Arab neighbors can no longer stomach without intervention. Was this the week that a protest game became something altogether uglier?

Not dissimilarly to Libya's tyranny, and escalation, the nature of the Syria protest beast spilled into something far more sinister when the country's leader staged an all-out war against his people, spawning civil divisions. In Syria, while the conflict looks to have consolidated along sectarian lines and could be termed civil war, some still see it as the war of a leader versus his own people rather than sectarian strife in and of its own inertia. And while a nation's domestic politics including civil uprising can be dismissed as that nation's own affair, a civil war or leader's brutality cannot.

Is this the week, or indeed fortnight, that all cards are on the international table for foreign intervention in Syria? While international wrangling and wrestling continues, consensus is still elusive and a gameplan for the new face of Syria has not yet been brokered by dawdling, backpedaling parties. The term tipping point was confidently deployed by the immediately analytical press. But it looks to be more like the week that the Syrian crisis wobbled and the international community tipped, faltered, and then resumed reactionary or recalcitrant positions.

With Russian and Chinese support, (who have since changed their tune) the UN Security Council last Sunday strongly condemned the Syrian government for using artillery in a massacre in the central town of Houla in which at least 108 people (a staggering portion of whom were women and children) were killed.

But Russia in a matter of days has since, along with China, vetoed two UN Security Council resolutions openly critical of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and said it was still early days to consider National Council action.

 

 

Have your say in the space below: was this the week (last week of May) that a Syrian protest became a whole new game?

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