In a move reminiscent of his brutal father, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has dispatched his armed forces to try to snuff out the country’s five-week-old democratic uprising.But hey, the folks at the UN have their priorities.
Thousands of Syrian troops backed by tanks and armoured personnel carriers stormed the southern city of Daraa on Monday, killing as many as 25 people, witnesses said. It was the first time the Syrian regime has resorted to such extreme measures against civilians in the current crisis.
“This is monumental,” said Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs Centre in Herzliya, Israel, and author of The Truth About Syria. “All the Arab regimes have a three-level priority of response,” he explained.
At the level one, “they hope the protests will go away and can be waited out.” At level two, “they respond with a mixture of repression and promises,” just the way Mr. al-Assad has, Mr. Rubin said. At level three, they resort to “heavy repression and killing people in order to destroy the protests and intimidate people from participation.”
“Assad has now gone to the third level,” Mr. Rubin said, noting that “even in the Shah’s Iran in 1978, as well as Egypt and Tunisia in 2011, the regimes did not go to level three because large elements in the elite did not want to do so.”
Human rights groups and a growing number of governments are working to prevent Syria from being elected to the U.N.'s top human rights body, as President Bashar Assad's security forces crack down on pro-democracy protesters.Meanwhile, the White House has sprung into action and is now "considering" sanctions. That ought to scare the pants off Assad.
Syria's election to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council is all but assured as one of four candidates selected to fill four Asian seats unless another candidate enters the race or Syria fails to win a majority of votes in the May 20 election in the 192-member General Assembly.
Since the 53-member Asian Group endorsed its slate — which also includes India, Indonesia and the Philippines — for the council in January, rights groups and some governments have engaged in a behind-the-scenes effort to keep Syria off the council.
Those efforts have gathered steam since a crackdown on pro-democracy protests since mid-March has left more than 350 dead and hundreds wounded, diplomats said.
One diplomat involved in the process, speaking on condition of anonymity because the consultations are private, said he was confident that another country would be found to contest the election but declined to say which countries were being pursued.
The White House is considering new sanctions against Syria amid a crackdown by that country’s government against pro-democracy demonstrators.Obviously that's been such a success that Gadhafi is still in power. So why would Assad even blink?
Syria is one of only four countries on the State Sponsors of Terrorism List and is already subject to heavy sanctions, limiting U.S. options.
As a result, new sanctions are expected to focus on the assets of Syrian officials close to President Bashar al-Assad. Such a strategy would mimic actions taken by the U.S. against Libyan dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi.
U.S. President Barack Obama's direct attack on Assad's regime did little to deter the Syrian president, who apparently decided to escalate violence against the opposition on the assumption that the international community will not take dramatic steps against Syria - that is a similar move to the bombing campaign in Libya.
Assad is, in effect, mocking his international critics. He clearly has little interest in the international community's condemnation. He has understood that the reforms he offered the Syrian public not only did not quell the unrest, but may have even added fuel to the fire.