Thursday, 9 February 2012

There's No Place like Homs...

Imagine cowering in your house, unable to go outside to get food. Imagine being shot at or attacked, not by a foreign invader, but by your own army. Imagine stepping outside and being fired at by snipers from the nearby roofs and seeing your neighbours and friends killed in front of you.

This is the reality in the Syrian city of Homs where the outgunned Free Syrian Army is facing a brutal barrage from pro-Government tanks.

The thuggish Assad regime has, despite its weasel words offering dialogue on reform, has reverted to type and is using force to suppress any kind of dissent. It knows it can act without regard for its own citizens because the likelihood of external intervention has receded.

The Russians and the Chinese vetoed a UN resolution condemning Assad and his regime - understandable but reprehensible. Both have made significant investments in Assad's regime and both know that removing Assad would almost certainly lead to a significant breakthrough in the Middle East allowing a pro-western Syrian regime to seek a peace with Israel while intensifying the pressure on Teheran.

There is also the unpalatable truth that neither Moscow nor Beijing care that much about the suffering of their own citizenry - they are as comfortable with repression and brutality against dissent as we in the West are appalled by it.

In Libya, the rebels were stronger and Gaddafi was ultimately pushed from power though after western intervention. It seems much less likely that the west or even Turkey will want to get involved with Syria even though there's plenty of evidence that few in the Syrian Army would fight for Assad if their own lives were at stake.

But it's so much easier when your opponent is cowering defenceless in an alley or in their own home.

The West must maintain its moral indignation and apply whatever diplomatic pressure it can via the Arab League to secure any kind of diplomatic advantage.

No comments: