Tuesday, May 29, 2012


"Le ministre des affaires étrangères, Laurent Fabius, demande le départ du président syrien, prône la fermeté envers l'Iran, mais sans "compétition", et redoute, au Sahel, un "Afghanistan africain". En Syrie, les massacres se multiplient et les observateurs internationaux sont impuissants. Assistons-nous à un scénario "à la bosniaque", où la communauté internationale assiste en spectatrice à une catastrophe ? Bachar Al-Assad est l'assassin de son peuple. Il doit quitter le pouvoir. Le plus tôt sera le mieux. Jusqu'ici les actions entreprises pour cela ont rencontré deux limites. La première résulte de l'absence de consensus au Conseil de sécurité de l'ONU, du fait des Russes et des Chinois. La seconde est militaire : l'armée syrienne est puissante. Aucun Etat n'est prêt à envisager aujourd'hui une opération terrestre. Les risques d'extension régionale seraient redoutables, en particulier au Liban. Dans ce contexte, l'action de la France se déploie dans trois directions. D'abord, durcir les sanctions, si possible au niveau du Conseil de sécurité. Ensuite, travailler avec la Russie, qui joue un rôle déterminant. Vladimir Poutine sera vendredi à l'Elysée. Enfin, il faut favoriser le rassemblement de l'opposition. Ce que vous décrivez, c'est au fond la prolongation de ce qui est entrepris depuis déjà plusieurs mois. Le massacre d'Houla ne marque-t-il pas un tournant qui nécessiterait d'autres actions ? Par exemple, des livraisons d'armes à l'opposition, ou la mise à l'étude d'une action en dehors du Conseil de sécurité ? Ce massacre épouvantable peut avoir comme conséquence que des pays jusque-là réticents évoluent. La question des livraisons d'armes pose une alternative redoutable. Ou bien des armes sont livrées, cela accentue la militarisation du conflit et le pays glisse définitivement dans la guerre civile ; ou bien elles ne le sont pas, et dans ce cas, l'opposition risquerait d'être broyée. La réalité, c'est que les frontières sont poreuses et que des armes entrent en Syrie....".
Natalie Nougayrède & Thomas Wieder, "Laurent Fabius: sur la Syrie, 'La France est favorable `a ce que la CPI soit saisie'." Le Monde. 29 May 2012, in www.lemonde.fr/international
"You must conquer and rule/ or lose and serve/suffer or triumph/be the anvil or be the hammer."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Der Gross-Cophta. (1791), Act two.
The horrid news coming out of Syria yesterday, the deliberate slaughter of innocent women and children to-day has naturally enough lead some Western statesman to increase the volume of criticism of the Assad regime. Hence the statement by the new French Foreign Minister, among others. With as per to-morrow's Financial Times, France, the United Kingdom, the USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, Spain and Italia declaring persona non grata, the Syrian Chiefs of Mission (either Ambassador or charge d'affaires) 1. The real question that I would like to inquire is however: has the recent events made the likelihood of Western and or International military intervention any greater? The answer is of course: non, pur et simple. With Assad Fils, allies in Persia, in Iraq and in Moskva showing absolutely no signs that they are in the least interested in withdrawing their backing of the regime. Indeed, as per Reuters, Russia is stepping up arm shipments to Damascus, notwithstanding the international outrage over the daily killing of innocent civilians by the Assad Regime 2. As the Lebanese commentator and politician, Charles Rizk noted cogently recently in the Lebanon Daily Star:
"Today, it is this powerful Iranian-Syrian bloc, with its Iraqi extension, that is covering Bashar Assad’s back and confronting the Syrian rebels. That explains the regime’s capacity for endurance and its indifference to international pressure. This indifference is all the more pronounced in that it is sustained by the backing of Russia, which has been able to reconstitute itself and stage a strong comeback in the Middle East by taking advantage of events in Syria....China, Russia and Iran support for Bashar Assad makes a Western military intervention in Syria impossible, given the likely catastrophic repercussions for all concerned. In the eyes of this coalition, Assad is a tool and pretext. He is the façade against which the courage of the insurgents will continue to collide as long as Russia and its allies on the one side, and the United States and its allies on the other, fail to dispassionately settle their differences, therefore reach agreement over their contending interests, through negotiations"3.
Au fond, one must (unfortunately!) agree with the former Bush Administration official and neo-conservative zealot (in the original meaning of the term), Elliot Abrams, when he states that sans American willingness to carry out a policy of va banque military intervention in Syria, that none of of the other powers: either Turkey or Saudi Arabia or the other Gulf States will become overtly involved. This may perhaps be a 'good thing' or a 'bad thing', but it is indeed as Abrams correctly notes as close to an empirical fact as one can imagine 4. In short, those who predicted that the Assad Fils regime was on its last legs, ten months ago, six months ago, three months ago and indeed one month ago, have been proven completely wrong. And as far as I can surmise, for what it is worth, there are no variables at play, which I can see, changing this state of affairs for quite some time to come.
1. Abigail Fielding-Smith, "Diplomatic Pressure mounts on Assad." The Financial Times.30th May 2012, in www.ft.com.
2. Louis Charbonneau, "Russian Arms shipment en route to Syria: report." Reuters. 25 May 2012, in www.reuters.com. This is courtesy of Syria Comment. See also a report in the semi-official Novosti news service where the Russian Deputy UN Ambassador implies that the massacre was perpetuated by the rebels as a 'provocation'. Something that even his chief did not quite endorse. Foreign Minister Lavrov did state openly that Mosvka is adamently opposed to 'regime change' in Syria. See: "Russia blames Assad Forces, Rebels for Syrian Massacre." Novosti. 28 May 2012, in www.en.rian.ru/russia.
3. Charles Rizk. "Beyond Bashar: Syrian Rebels are facing far more significant reisistance." The Daily Star.25 May 2012, in www.dailystar.com.lb.
4.Elliott Abrams, "Disgrace in Syria." The Council on Foreign Relations. 27 May 2012, in www.cfr.org.


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