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PV Vivekanand: Force Russian, Chinese hands
May 31, 2012
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For the first time, a leader of a major Western country has said an armed intervention is possible to end the Syrian regime’s ruthless and violent response to people’s demand for an end to its autocratic regime and for democracy.

“An armed intervention is not excluded on the condition that it is carried out with respect to international law, meaning after deliberation by the United Nations Security Council,” French President Francois Hollande said in a television interview on Tuesday.

“We also have to find a solution that would not be strictly military. Pressure must be applied now to get rid of the regime of Bashar Al Assad,” Hollande added.

International pressure is indeed growing on Syria.

The expulsions of its diplomats from all major Western capitals should be a message to the Syrian regime that it is being treated as an international pariah beyond redemption and that it stands little chance of survival in the world comity of nations.

The expulsions have come as international outrage grew over the brutal mass slaughter on Friday in the central town of Houla, in which at least 108 people, including 49 children, were killed, according to UN figures.

Japan on Wednesday joined many of its Western allies who have kicked out Syrian diplomats after expressing disgust over the Houla massacre.

On Tuesday, Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United States all ordered out the highest ranking Syrian diplomats in their countries in a bid to increase pressure on the Damascus regime.

However, the rulers of Syria are unfazed. On the one hand, they claim they are co-operating with the UN effort to solve the crisis while on the other they are pressing ahead with their bloody crackdown against dissent regardless of anything and everything. It seems to believe that it is taking the world for a ride by accusing “foreign” elements of running a conspiracy to destabilise Syria, Few around the world believe those charges. Many are shocked at the Damascus regime’s audacity to deny that a massacre of a national level is taking place in the country.

Obviously, the Alawite rulers of Damascus believe that they will be able to crush the rebellion and come on top of the situation regardless of the human cost and it will be business as usual with the international community. They have definitely taken heart from the brutal campaign with which Hafez Al Assad, the current president’s father, ended a challenge to his rule in the early 80s. Entire towns were bombed to rubble with the loss of more than 20,000 lives.

The rulers of Syria could not even contemplate any other course of events because failure to end the revolt means their ouster from power and a fate similar to if not worse than the Libyan regime of Muammar Qadhafi.

They are convinced that it is only a matter of time before the rebellion is crushed and they are buying time by accepting and pretending to be co-operating with UN-led efforts to solve the crisis.

The Syrian regime’s survival so far in the face of the uprising could be attributed to several factors:

the regime is backed by a well-trained military that has always remained on a war footing, with Alawites in key positions.

The regime’s dreaded intelligence agencies have been keeping a close eye on everyone in the country for decades and they know who could make trouble and where. That accounts for the tens of thousands of Syrians now in prison undergoing routine torture.

Most of the Syrian elite, including businessmen, as well as civil servants support the regime because their fate is tied with the government.  They have no option. They are aware that they will go down if the regime does.

Damascus believes that the rebellion could be and should be countered with sheer brutality. No half measures. That approach has brought down the intensity of armed attacks against the regime’s far better equipped forces.

Iran, Russia and China are offering solid backing to the Syrian regime. They are sending weapons and other military supplies to Syria to prevent effective UN action to pressure the Damascus regime, Iran’s staunchest Arab ally.

The opposition is fragmented. It is mainly split between a Muslim Brotherhood-led camp and mostly secularists. Christians are apprehensive that the Brotherhood could gain power in a post-revolt Syria and impose Islamic law.

Hollande’s suggestion that military invention under a UN mandate is an option to end the crisis could indeed be a starter although it would immediately be shot down by Russia and China. The US, France and the UK, the other three permanent members of the UN Security Council, should go ahead with drafting a resolution to this effect. Let the Russians and Chinese veto it and that will not only expose their disregard over the bloodbath in Syria but also free others to contemplate alternative action.

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