Note: In light of today’s twin bombings in Damascus and the UN Mission’s feeble response to it, the Security Council needs to close this dangerous loophole in their Syria Protocol – one that currently allows Jihadists unfettered freedom to bomb, assassinate and terrorize.
We have arrived at a determining moment in the Syrian crisis. The choices are startlingly simple:
1) Cautious, incremental movement toward political reconciliation and reform spearheaded by the Syrian government and closely monitored by Kofi Annan’s UN mission, Moscow, Tehran and Beijing.
2) Dangerous escalation of violence and militarization that will increasingly include foreign jihadists and is likely spill to over into the broader Middle East.
After only one week of observing events in Syria first-hand, United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) commander Major-General Robert Mood spelled out the dwindling options:
“I can tell you from my engagement that whomever I meet, they tell me that they want to move on the basis of Kofi Annan’s Six Point Plan, and that includes the Free Syrian Army locally, and that includes Local Coordination Committees. I am fully aware that there are others with a different agenda, that have other ideas, but I have yet to see a credible alternative to Kofi Annan’s Six Point Plan. So one way to put it is that it is, for now, the only game in town.”
Perhaps he should have said the only “sane” game in town. Because there is that other “game” – the one that seeks forced regime-change at any cost, even if it means having dangerous Salafi militants fight the battle NATO cannot.
Those with “different agendas” and “other ideas” are a diverse group with goals distinctly opposed to demilitarization, reconciliation and reform along the Annan/Syrian/Russian track.
So far, we understand them to include countries and organizations still intent on materially assisting or weaponizing the armed opposition – in contravention of the spirit of UN Security Council Resolution 2043. After all, only days after Syria approved the Annan Plan, Friends of Syria member states committed millions of dollars in “non-lethal aid” to the rebels. Members Saudi Arabia and Qatar pledged to provide salaries for the fighters and financially reward defectors from the regular Syrian Army, while the Turkish, GCC and western-backed Syrian National Council (SNC) overtly went begging for funds to increase weapons supplies to armed groups inside Syria.
If Annan does things right, these nations and groups can be bullied and cajoled into compliance via a more robust set of UN Protocols, expressly drafted to change their behaviors.
No, the 600-pound gorilla in the room with “different agendas” and “other ideas” is not so much the GCC-NATO backed armed militias scattered throughout the country’s opposition strongholds. It is the growing presence of al-Qaeda and other jihadists operating inside the Syrian theater. (more…)