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Syria’s Never-Ending Story
Israel - Middle East
Friday, June 01, 2012
Alf Cengia

Well, it looks like former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been recruited as a peace envoy in another attempt to settle the Syrian 'catastrophe'.  Catastrophe - I can’t think of a better word for it.

Anan has met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.  The latter has laid the blame on Islamist militants for a recent massacre in which U.N. observers had implicated Assad’s army.

“Peace envoy Kofi Annan condemned the killing of at least 108 people in the Syrian town of Houla as "an appalling crime" on Monday and urged President Bashar al-Assad to prove he wants a peaceful resolution to the crisis racking his country...U.N. monitors say at least 108 people were killed, among them dozens of children. Many of the victims were also hacked to death or shot at close range, as shown in graphic images distributed by activists.”

Ah, Kofi Anan – now that’s a blast from the past!  I wonder if he’s reminiscing about the old halcyon days when, like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza inanely tilting at innocuous windmills, all UN officials had to worry about was Israel and those who wanted to rightfully eliminate it because of its unconscionable misdemeanors:

“But [Israel] they are not likely to succeed unless they themselves grasp and acknowledge the fundamental Palestinian grievance—namely, that the establishment of the State of Israel involved the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian families, turning them into refugees, and was followed nineteen years later by a military occupation that brought hundreds of thousands more Palestinians under Israeli rule.” (Emphasis mine)

A brief journey back to 2005 stirs up old memories courtesy of Daniel Pipes:

“But dismay and shock at Ahmadinejad's statements [against Israel] did not prevent Annan from participating on November 29, just between the Iranian's outbursts, in a U.N.-sponsored "International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People." Anne Bayefsky of "Eye on the UN," reports that Annan sat on the dais with an Arabic-language "Map of Palestine" nearby that showed a Palestine replacing Israel. It cartographically achieved exactly what Ahmadinejad called for: the elimination of the Jewish state.” (Emphasis mine)

Kofi’s experiences with the Iranian President didn’t appear to get him much of a clue.  Isn’t the Iranian regime really a peaceful state after all?  You know - the same one that’s employing those austere measures of dealing with apostasy and Christianity?

If Anan was shocked then, he now finds himself in a situation where Muslim is killing Muslim over political affairs and it’s difficult to fully comprehend or appreciate all the dynamics driving the never-ending conflict.  I’d venture to add that he may have felt a lot more vulnerable in Damascus than in Jerusalem.

Pro-Palestinian activist Stephen Sizer recently interviewed Arab media personality Dr Zeinab Assaffar on the Arab Spring.  To be fair to Sizer, he asked questions without interjecting even when some of the responses may not have suited him – especially the slaughter in Syria.  Interestingly he continues to push the anti-Israel cart on his website.

Leaving aside debatable declarations regarding the relatively more tolerant cultural conditions in Iraq pre-US invasion and the extent of Islamist hegemony in normal Muslim societies; she made the interesting claim that the Syrian opposition was being supported by “certain groups” in Lebanon.

She also believes that the goal of the Syrian opposition isn’t reform per se.  The opposition (whoever they represent) wants a “disintegration of Syria” and they want to break the “axis” between Syria and Iran.  In that process, some of the bombings and riots are strategically planned to occur at peak times to target more civilians.

Somewhat complementing that suggestion is the claim that Syria’s minority communities (read Christian) may actually prefer Assad.  According to Israel Today, while the international media focuses attention on Assad’s “brutal tactics”, the opposition forces A.K.A. the Free Syrian Army have been depicted in a far more positive light:

“But a trickle of reports from sources in embattled Syrian towns reveal that the Sunni-led revolutionaries are guilty of at least as many war crimes as Assad, especially against the country's Christian minority.” (Emphasis mine)

And this:

“The exodus from Homs began back in February, according to the Christian relief agency Barnabas Fund, which reported at the time that at least 200 local Christians had been massacred, while more had been kidnapped, tortured and ransomed by Muslim forces. Still more Christians were forced to act as human shields for the rebel fighters...Church leaders called the situation in Homs an "ongoing ethnic cleansing of Christians," and said that the 1,000 Christians still in the city are living in a constant state of fear. Homs was previously home to some 50,000 Christians.”

Is al-Qaeda one of the players involved in Syria?  UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon seems to think so:

"A few days ago there was a huge, serious, massive terrorist attack. I believe that there must be al-Qaeda behind it. This has created again very serious problems."

Al-Qaeda? - say it isn’t so.  I thought those guys were decimated.

Yet amidst this entire crisis one knows one’s true friends and Assad can still rely on Russia and China.  Bloomberg noted that even the slaughter of women and children in Houla has failed to come between Russia and Syria despite public declarations of disappointment over the tragedies.

And of course the considerate Obama administration is:

“...reluctant to confront Russia over its support for Assad...because it wants to avoid a confrontation with President Vladimir Putin so soon after he took office and because it puts a higher premium on gaining Russian support for halting Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons research.”

Then, if were are to believe Ha’aretz, Russia and North Korea are continuing to ship weapons and ammunitions to Syria, which Ha’aretz confirms are being paid for by the Iranian government.  Just to make things even more interesting, it also claims that weapons shipments have also increased, “mainly through Turkey”.

So why is North Korea supplying arms to Assad?  What’s that old saying? – You can judge a man’s character by the company he keeps.

Syria’s problem is going to get worse.  The elements of violence, ideological intolerance and power struggles from different factions that have been festering in the region for years are producing its natural fruit.  The potential is for a massive fire-ball.

Meanwhile, people are being slaughtered; Christians targeted and leaving the Middle East.  It’s about time certain media stopped focusing on Israel’s so-called refugee wrongdoings and acknowledged the 800 pound gorilla in the Middle East living room.

One more thing; my fellow columnist, Ed DeShields recently wrote a fascinating piece HERE.  I recommend reading it.

With ships floating around the Mediterranean delivering arms to Syria and the situation in the Middle East, I wonder how all that would play out given Ed’s possible scenarios.  And what does this mean for Israel?

About Alf Cengia

Last week: It's Not All Good



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