Fanning The Ember of Syrian Conflict
The crisis in Syria is fast becoming a test ground for world powers to flex their muscles. The United States and its allies on the one hand and Russia and China on the other are locked in a war of wits over the Syrian conflict. Last month, the axis power, Russia and China, blocked a draft UN Security Council resolution on Syria to the consternation of other UN Security Council members. Moscow and Beijing insisted that the draft was one-sided and could have sent an unbalanced signal to all sides in the conflict.
China, which is seen as one of the arrowheads in this matter by U.S and its allies, has said that the country is “extremely concerned” and has also sent a convoy to Syria. It said it has suggested political referendum in the country against America’s demand for total relinquishing of power by President Assad.
Professor Zhang Yongjin of the University of Bristol said Beijing would prefer to avoid having a Libyan scenario repeated in Syria. “Beijing is simply warning of this rhetoric eventually becoming part of the policy by the West.” “There is a very interesting parallel between the Syrian situation and the Libyan situation,” he added. Analysts believe that the conflict in Syria has continued because of the extreme positions taken by America and China. While America, like the situation in Libya, is calling for Assad to abdicate power, Beijing is opposed to any regime change in Damascus or any form of intervention by external bodies. Yongjin noted that, “There is some kind of encouragement of the Syrian opposition not to accept any kind of political solution and, to, keep fighting, and this call for Assad to step down. Beijing is very concerned, obviously, about how the possibility of a peaceful resolution of the Syrian situation is undermined by such rhetoric.”
The European Union, EU, has recognised the opposition Syrian National Council, SNC, as the legitimate representative of Syrian people. EU President, Herman van Rompuy said “the European Council remains determined to ensure that those responsible for the atrocities being committed in Syria are held accountable for their actions; we’ll coordinate closely and assist those working to document these appalling crimes.”
French President, Nicolas Sarkozy announced the closure of its embassy in Damascus in support of the SNC. Former presidential candidate of the Republican Party, Senator John McCain has also called in the US government to launch military air strikes against Syrian President, Bashar Assad’s regime to force him out of power.
In recent weeks, the cities of Homs and Baba Amr suffered heavy bombardment by government forces. Despite the display of might by the Syrian government to put an end to the resistance members of the opposition said to have sworn to die fighting.
The rebel group, Free Syrian Army, FSA, which posted a clip on the internet urging its supporters not to give up the fight, released a statement shortly after the bombing of Homs and Baba Amr, saying that it was leaving the district in what they called “tactical withdrawal.” The violence in Syria in the last weeks has shifted much of its attention on Baba Amr, a neighbourhood of five square miles.
There are talks about whether the opposition is reconstituting its stronghold somewhere else in the city of Homs. Observers are of the opinion that this possibility cannot be ruled out even though it has not been confirmed at the moment.
Syrian forces backed by tanks, surrounded the neighbourhoods of Bab Tadmur and Jib al-Jandali, where intense fighting was reported in the two Sunni-dominated neighbourhoods. The Syrian government said more than 2,000 security personnel have been killed in the violence, while the United Nations estimates that more than 7,500 people have died since the conflict broke on January 26 last year, after Hasan Ali Akleh poured gasoline on himself and set himself on fire, in the way Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi had done in Tunis on 17 December 2010, triggering an uprising.
In the wake of the past weeks shelling, Syrian authorities are still blocking humanitarian efforts to bring in food and medicine to civilians caught up in the war. There are also reports of summary executions carried out by the government forces on members of the opposition. Not even journalists are allowed free access to cover the conflict as they should. In the course of carrying out their duty, Sunday Times reporter, Marie Colvin and French journalist, Remi Ochlik were killed in Homs during intense fighting with government and rebel forces.
The situation in Syria has warranted even the International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, director-general, Yves Daccord to express concern over the fate of civilians still trapped in freezing temperatures in Baba Amro in need of food, water and medical care. He promised that negotiations would continue with the military and government to allow the group total access in the war torn zones. “At the moment we are blocked by the Syrian army and government. We hope to get into Baba Amr today; we have to be firm and not give up. The negotiations are being led on site in Homs with military commanders and also in Damascus,” he said.
Apart from the tragic weather condition in Baba Amro, there is also the problem of evacuating the wounded. The Red Cross team and Syrian Arab Red Crescent have managed to distribute food and medical aid in a village near Homs but were shut out for a third day from Baba Amro, said a report.
The ICRC is pressing for a daily two-hour humanitarian ceasefire across Syria between the Syrian government and opposition forces. UN refugees agency said over 2,000 refugees crossed into neighbouring Lebanon over the last few days to flee the government’s crackdown on opposition strongholds.
Former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan is leading a joint UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria, to enter into talks with the parties involved in the conflict with a view for resolving the crisis.