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Irrefutable evidence of crimes against humanity
March 7, 2012 3:01 PM   Subscribe

Britain's Channel 4 has broadcast graphic and disturbing footage apparently showing torture within a Syrian military hospital. The UN special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, says that the allegations are "consistent with what my mandate has been receiving over the last several months."

An extended description of Channel 4's investigation from December last year says that
the most potent weapon in opposition hands is the mobile phone. Grainy footage of violent acts of repression – and of those tortured and killed by the regime – has been uploaded and rebroadcast to a global audience of millions. [...] The sheer volume of such material – upwards of 30,000 videos have now been posted on the internet by Syrian opposition activists – spurred Channel 4 to commission a documentary investigation.
posted by Joe in Australia (92 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
This has only been going on for nearly a year now though Assads goons were were up to their necks in other people´s blood way before that only there wasn´t an uprising as such to crush; just dissent. As usual the West did nothing and the pan-arabists less.
The Arabist recommends this as the best thing you will read on Syria.
Civil war is fast approaching if not already happening. The elite will not give up their grip easily and what we seem to be seeing is Iraq 2.0 only this time without the US catalyst.
The Ways of Syria helps show how things got to where they are in an historical perspective.
posted by adamvasco at 3:28 PM on March 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Tail! Wag the dog, wag the dog, tail. Good tail.

Are you ready to surrender your rational faculties about the complexities of this situation and just start the bombing campaign already? If not we've got some b-roll of babies being pulled from incubators to show you.
posted by humanfont at 3:41 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


If not we've got some b-roll of babies being pulled from incubators to show you.

That works if the woman crying is the ambassadors daughter. What does MyFacePage show as the ambassador's daughter?
posted by rough ashlar at 3:44 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Al Qaeda behind Syrian bombings.
posted by empath at 3:44 PM on March 7, 2012


Al Qaeda behind Syrian bombings.

*smile*
Just another theory about a group of people conspiring?
posted by rough ashlar at 3:47 PM on March 7, 2012


^ ?
Could you try that again using English as it is spoken.
posted by adamvasco at 3:48 PM on March 7, 2012


The Indian Ambassador to the UN in an interview (Q&A text starts about halfway down the page) spoke candidly about the behind the scenes stuff on Libya in the UNSC (U.N. Resolutions 1970 and 1973), but he also touched upon Syria:
What about Syria, then?

Look clearly, given a situation in which the Alawites constitute 12 per cent of the population, with the total minority at about 26 per cent. Any society where there is a minority of 26 per cent and a majority of 74 per cent, there is going to have to be a social compact. That compact worked because different communities were co-opted. But one thing is very clear about Syria. As we proceeded in the Council, it became clear (and this also comes out in the [al-Dabi] report to the League of Arab States) that there is an armed component to the opposition. Those who want a strong condemnation of Damascus will tell you that helpless civilians turned to the opposition, and they armed themselves only when they were being slaughtered. Be that as it may. It is very difficult to calibrate as to when one became the other, when the peaceful became the armed, when a qualitative change took place. My sense is that you cannot get peace in Syria unless both sides walk back. Therefore, you need complete cessation of violence. You need an inclusive Syrian-led dialogue without preconditions, and you need the engagement of all sections of civilian society on issues related to constitutional reform.

Do you think the Libyan experience has made it impossible for both sides in Syria to take a step back?

Well, there is some suggestion that President Bashar al-Assad might be willing to talk, but those who are financing and arming the opposition think that they will be able to succeed, drawing on the Libyan experience. I must say frankly: whether we vote for or against or abstain on the Syrian resolution is not the issue. Because of the Libyan experience other members of the Security Council, such as China and Russia, will not hesitate in exercising a veto if a resolution – and this is the big if – contains actions under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which permits the use of force and punitive and coercive measures. So your question is absolutely pertinent. And, you know, the Libyan experience means different things to different people. The unsettled state of Libya means that there are mercenaries who are operating in Libya, who are going back to Niger and Mali, bringing chaos.

Nothing that I've said should lead to any inference being drawn that we are unhappy with the transitional government. We want to see the people of Libya being able to vote, and we hope for a positive outcome. What we are doing here is understanding Resolution 1970 and Resolution 1973.

We were able to get unanimity in the Council, under the Indian presidency, on the presidential statement in the Council on Syria on August 3, 2011. We stopped short of incorporating Chapter 7. We condemned the violence. We called on both parties to step back and we asked for a dialogue abjuring violence. That was the message we had given bilaterally through IBSA [India-Brazil-South Africa]. That is a message we have given collectively.

We were told we – that is, the PRST [U.N. Security Council President's Statement] – need unanimity. So our contribution, apart from making sure that we got the text that we wanted, was to get unanimity. We have seen statements by former U.S. diplomats who said, “Oh, this was not an Indian thing, this was negotiated between Brazil and France.” I mean, I can tell you, you can talk to the Secretariat, the Indian presidency was the first time in the history of the Security Council when the President did the negotiating. I mean full marks to all the delegations because they came on board, but we were doing the negotiating. We were not only chairing. Then we knew that this would fall apart because Lebanon would not be able to join the PRST. So we looked for a precedent to allow them to disassociate from the statement. We found one in 1974. So we got a unanimous Presidential Statement in August 2011.

Then two months later, on October 4, Britain and France brought a resolution before the Council which was essentially the same as the PRST, except it had a reference to Article 41. This would mean we would consider further measures, including from Article 41. Not that they will take these measures, but if this does not work, then they would. Two permanent members of the Security Council co-sponsored the resolution. Two permanent members [Russia and China] vetoed it, and the fifth, the U.S., under provocation from the Syrian ambassador, walked out.

So this is it. There is a complete difference between August and October. We abstained in October. So why did we vote in favour of the February resolution on Syria? Because the February resolution [which Russia and China vetoed] was explicitly clear that it was not under Chapter 7 [use of force]. So Resolution 1973 and this one are fundamentally different. So that's the reason why we supported one and didn't support the other.
Read the whole thing.
posted by vidur at 3:49 PM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Humanfront - are you suggesting that the well documented atrocities of Assad's regime are actually completely made up by persons unknown in order to justify a military intervention that as far as I can tell nobody is seriously proposing? Or just that we should pay no attention to said attrocities in case they prompt anyone to suggest such a military intervention?
posted by Artw at 3:51 PM on March 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Al Qaeda behind Syrian bombings.

*smile*
Just another theory about a group of people conspiring?


"U.S. officials: Al Qaeda behind X" should be a meme. Also, Al Qaeda ate my homework.
posted by vidur at 3:52 PM on March 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Who should we attack first: Syria or Iran?
posted by Vindaloo at 3:58 PM on March 7, 2012


I'm proposing that there is a coordinated media campaign to pressure the UK and US to start bombing Syria without regard for the complexity of the situation and consequences of that action. Why Syria and not Yemen? Why Syria and not Bahrain? Is there no cell phone video from those places? Why does this footage make it onto Channel 4, but we just ignore it elsewhere?
posted by humanfont at 4:02 PM on March 7, 2012


Why Syria and not Yemen?

Granted, Yemen is a failed state shithole crawling with Al-Queda with an utterly worthless government, but you have evidence of coordinated mass killing of civilians there?
posted by Artw at 4:09 PM on March 7, 2012


Who should we attack first: Syria or Iran?

Why not both? I hear it's a two-for-one deal this week only!
posted by Old'n'Busted at 4:10 PM on March 7, 2012


Ahhh. OK. Got it. Now let´s say the west starts bombing Syria; that means that Iran will step up its help to its ally so there is now the perfect excuse to BOMB, BOMB, IRAN and its an Election year and that smile´.... why it´s Bibi´s.
posted by adamvasco at 4:11 PM on March 7, 2012


I suppose this footage made it onto Channel 4 because it's qualitatively different: it's not the sort of thing that can be ascribed to enthusiastic militia or isolated excesses. By implication, the Syrian government is not only legally or formally but actually responsible. The idea of a formal governmental torture program should be deeply shocking and in Britain it probably is.

I don't think there's a drumbeat for war; I don't think anyone has suggested a practical military intervention that could do anything other than change the identities of the people being tortured. None the less, dismissing the reported torture simply because we are uncomfortable with the consequences of acknowledging it would be be intellectually cowardly and about the most morally squalid act imaginable.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:18 PM on March 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


"U.S. officials: Al Qaeda behind X"

From what i observe, it's because we declared war on them, so saying they are behind it saves a step or two, and makes it okay.

Also, when they torture, bad! When we torture, freedom!! When their secrets are leaked, freedom!! When ours are, traitors that hate our freedom!!! The US really has no moral footing here, but i guess as long as you have the backing of force, it's all okay.
posted by usagizero at 4:22 PM on March 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


just start the bombing campaign already?

Sorry, not enough oil.
posted by Trurl at 4:24 PM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Al- Jazeera asks Is Syria's unrest spilling over into Lebanon? where the refugee crisis is aggravating old tensions.
Of course the Syria torture is state sponsored and approved, however the West and Specifically the USA has rather abrogated it´s right to condemn other nations for what it has indulged in itself. It is only the degree and volume that varies.
posted by adamvasco at 4:27 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm proposing that there is a coordinated media campaign to pressure the UK and US to start bombing Syria without regard for the complexity of the situation and consequences of that action.

Please tell us more about who is running this coordinated campaign and why they are doing this thing! It sounds terrifying.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:37 PM on March 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


TBH reading what I guess I'd characterize as "antiwar" comments in this thread I feel like I'm leaning over the same yawning gulf of factless assertion as when Bush et al were building the case for the Iraq invasion.
posted by Artw at 4:37 PM on March 7, 2012


I'm proposing that there is a coordinated media campaign to pressure the UK and US to start bombing Syria without regard [...]

Coordinated by whom?
posted by anigbrowl at 4:39 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


THEM!
posted by Artw at 4:40 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Obama, probably)
posted by Artw at 4:40 PM on March 7, 2012


None the less, dismissing the reported torture simply because we are uncomfortable with the consequences of acknowledging it would be be intellectually cowardly and about the most morally squalid act imaginable.

They've been torturing people in Syria for 30 years. They torture people in Saudi Arabia. Hell, even the US tortured people to death. Yes it happens. It sucks. What do you want to do about it?
posted by empath at 4:43 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are you ready to surrender your rational faculties about the complexities of this situation and just start the bombing campaign already? If not we've got some b-roll of babies being pulled from incubators to show you.

I do not support bombing our way to a solution to this problem, but it is a problem. This isn't made up like the WMD stuff.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:46 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Stop?
posted by maryr at 4:46 PM on March 7, 2012


Easier said than done. Much of the world has, after all, been asking Syria to stop for some time now.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:07 PM on March 7, 2012


They've been torturing people in Syria for 30 years. They torture people in Saudi Arabia. Hell, even the US tortured people to death. Yes it happens. It sucks. What do you want to do about it?

Is there any point at which the scale of verifiable atrocities might justify external intervention, by military means if necessary?

Obviously, practical concerns would come into play (would invasion or air strikes result in regional destabilization or war, negating any benefits?)...

I'm just wondering if there's a place on the continuum of horror where an ethical person would say, "OK, stop. This is a crime against humanity. I'm going to look into all available options to find a way to end the killing. If necessary, I'll consider military action, provided such a campaign would be effective."
posted by BobbyVan at 5:08 PM on March 7, 2012


Is there any point at which the scale of verifiable atrocities might justify external intervention, by military means if necessary?

The US has more prisoners than any other country on earth, and the conditions are atrocious. Rape and torture by fellow inmates and even by guards happens on a regular basis. Have you even written a letter to your congressman about it?
posted by empath at 5:24 PM on March 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


BobbyVan I'm just wondering if there's a place on the continuum of horror where an ethical person would say, "OK, stop. This is a crime against humanity. I'm going to look into all available options to find a way to end the killing. If necessary, I'll consider military action, provided such a campaign would be effective."

Yes there is, but they generally end up calling you "terrorists" and hunting you down.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:28 PM on March 7, 2012


provided such a campaign would be effective

That's the rub, taking responsability and insuring a conquest will lead to a hand off to the right people (ie people who were neither just as bad, or pure puppets) to justify the hundreds through to millions who will die as a result of any sort of typical modern war. So the invasion of Syria would have to work, your own side will have to be closely monitored to ensure they don't go on a campaign of raping and pillaging (it is a war, after all); the sheer expense and justifying lost life and limb on your own side to the people back home; keeping neighbours happy and out of things (even though they obviously have their own interests, both self preservation-wise and because borders are fuzzy and subject to greed); you'd need to balance the effect on long term diplomatic policy to make the choice that you have the right to meddle in national sovereignty for any reason, even one of compassion and many, many variable that make this anything but an easy choice... including many countries with UN membership to which this is standard operating procedure or close there to. It gets a bit harder to condemn Syria when you say, have a bunch of hapless people you picked up in Afganistan still cooling their heels in Cuba, and a track record of torturing them.

I honestly don't know. As a Canadian, we make a big point of nationalism out of getting involved with other people's wars out of purely service motivated (Empire support, peacekeeping) and a huge portion of our military policy has been shaped by a history of me-tooing in this fashion. But I'm honestly not sure we, either my country or the collective global we, have the organizational means and will to actually stop torture, only shuffle things around.
posted by Phalene at 5:38 PM on March 7, 2012


I know I've said that drone strikes were a bad idea in the context of Afghanistan, but perhaps knocking off Assad (and a threat to do the same to any successor using torture) would really make a difference here. Other than that, I have nothing.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:01 PM on March 7, 2012


Thank goodness America doesn't torture. That would really muddy things.
posted by unSane at 6:04 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know I've said that drone strikes were a bad idea in the context of Afghanistan, but perhaps knocking off Assad (and a threat to do the same to any successor using torture) would really make a difference here.

This is actually how Lee Harvey Oswald ended the Vietnam War.
posted by empath at 6:05 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Though I opposed the Iraq War and think that NATO and the U.S. should have left Afghanistan many years ago, I am, by no stretch of the imagination, a pacifist. This is exactly the kind of thing that UN backed military missions are made for (not likely that will happen). At some point this just has to stop, if that takes military intervention, so be it.
posted by IvoShandor at 6:08 PM on March 7, 2012


I'm just wondering if there's a place on the continuum of horror where an ethical person would say, "OK, stop. This is a crime against humanity. I'm going to look into all available options to find a way to end the killing. If necessary, I'll consider military action, provided such a campaign would be effective."

The point at which your military intervention more efficiently saves lives than if you spent the same resources on providing medical supplies and healthcare to poor starving people.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:12 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Libya had no real allies. Iraq had no allies. Afghanistan had no allies. We're already on the verge of war with Iran. Iran, Russia and China all have close ties to Syria. The Syrian opposition is already in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. Al Qaeda is working with the opposition.

I was against the Libyan intervention just out of general opposition to US intervention. I thought that we didn't know who we were supporting, and that we might have been stopping one massacre only to start another. I never thought it would spiral out of control, only that it risked being ineffective.

Syria is different. An international intervention in Syria has a not insignificant chance of starting WWIII in the middle east. Iran is not going to let its only ally on the mediterranean collapse without a fight, especially when it's already mobilized preparing for an invasion, and if Iran gets involved, we have no idea where Iraq is going to go.

Not only do I think it's a terrible idea, but I think Obama won't do it, just like he won't launch an attack on Iran. The only way it would happen is if Syria invaded turkey or did something else similarly stupid.
posted by empath at 6:16 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


They've been torturing people in Syria for 30 years. They torture people in Saudi Arabia. Hell, even the US tortured people to death. Yes it happens. It sucks. What do you want to do about it?
posted by empath


Eponyohwhatever.

Seriously? Syria's approximate proximity to Israel is what? Oh, right.

Like empath said, and he's been making great points, ok so.......and? Assad has killed x number of civilians. Obama (who I will again vote for) has killed how many civilians with drone strikes? How many civilians dead in Iraq? Hell, take it back to Viet Nam, how many civilians dead there?

I'm so much more interested in cleaning up the mess on my own doorstop than whatever Middle Eastern former ally the media deems the demon of the moment. I like Obama for a good number of reasons, but this crazy killing of completely innocent people really has to stop. I'd really like to not have to move, and to live in a country that doesn't seem to kill brown people en masse.
posted by nevercalm at 6:53 PM on March 7, 2012


Assad has killed x number of civilians. Obama (who I will again vote for) has killed how many civilians with drone strikes? How many civilians dead in Iraq? Hell, take it back to Viet Nam, how many civilians dead there?

Some of theses slaughters can actually still be ended. We should do that, or join with others to do that, including ending our own misguided mission in Afghanistan/Pakistan.

I do get what you say about minding our own business, but I don't think it's realistic to live in a vacuum. Isolationism isn't going to work in the 21st century. And while I appreciate the George Carlin reference, I don't think pigmentation has anything to do with any of the wars you have mentioned.
posted by IvoShandor at 7:13 PM on March 7, 2012


The media campaign is being coordinated by the American Enterprise Institute with support from their political allies in congress like John McCain. The same people who brought you the Iraq war and the surge. They are getting an assist from various GCC member states especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar (hence AJ is particularly building the outrage).
posted by humanfont at 7:34 PM on March 7, 2012


Some of theses slaughters can actually still be ended

Which? With what certainty? How much money and how many lives are you willing spend on it? How many innocent people are you willing to kill to save some unspecified number of other possibly innocent people? Should we over throw the regime? Occupy the country to enforce the peace for a decade?

We got lucky in Libya. We didn't in Iraq. Are you willing to gamble with the lives of a million people?
posted by empath at 7:35 PM on March 7, 2012


Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia
posted by empath at 7:40 PM on March 7, 2012


Eventually, it will occur to the rest of the Arab League that the only military able to fly into Syria on air-support missions without any concern about Syria's vaunted air-defense is Israel, and that the only power in the region who would give a good goddamn about civilian genocide, given the proper political motivation, is also Israel.

No wonder Iran is making negotiation overtures.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:53 PM on March 7, 2012


Meanwhile, it's legal for the US government to send people to Syria to be tortured.
posted by v-tach at 7:54 PM on March 7, 2012


The Saudi and Qatari air forces are capable of conducting a limited campaign through Syrian air defenses. Qatari pilots proved themselves quite capable during the Libyan conflict.
posted by humanfont at 8:05 PM on March 7, 2012


Eventually, it will occur to the rest of the Arab League that the only military able to fly into Syria on air-support missions without any concern about Syria's vaunted air-defense is Israel, and that the only power in the region who would give a good goddamn about civilian genocide, given the proper political motivation, is also Israel.

Ah yes, Isreal being the greatest proponent of human rights and protector of innocent Arab lives ever in the Middle East.
posted by nevercalm at 8:07 PM on March 7, 2012


*Israel stupid fingers.
posted by nevercalm at 8:08 PM on March 7, 2012


Thank goodness America doesn't torture. That would really muddy things.

Extradoublespecial thank goodness that we don't ship our prisoners off to foreign countries like Syria for torture by proxy.
posted by LionIndex at 8:17 PM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


The US military should perhaps get involved here -- how much oil do they have?
posted by dancestoblue at 8:34 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


1) Extraordinary Rendition was absolutely unacceptable, those who authorized it here in the US need to be tried for their crimes.
2) Israel's treatment of its minorities and Lebanese neighbor needs serious reform, and is unacceptable in a first-world democracy.
3) What Syria is doing, here, now, is so completely off the scale from either of the above points as to make those who try to equate them a laughingstock.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:37 PM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Syria has done exactly what they are doing now for decades. This is nothing new. It's not even the first time they massacred a city full of rebels.

My question for you is what do you want to do to stop them? The Syrian population is closer to Iraq than Libya, as is the army, and they haven't be decimated by decades of sanctions. They have military support from Iran. Iraq is backing the Syrian government. Any war will overflow into a Mideast that's already a tinderbox -- how do you think Iraq, Israel and Lebanon and Turkey will handle millions of refugees? What happens if Israel decides to bomb Iran during the chaos? Or Iran decides to test a nuclear weapon while we're bogged down in Syria?
posted by empath at 8:47 PM on March 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Which? With what certainty? How much money and how many lives are you willing spend on it? How many innocent people are you willing to kill to save some unspecified number of other possibly innocent people? Should we over throw the regime? Occupy the country to enforce the peace for a decade?

We got lucky in Libya. We didn't in Iraq. Are you willing to gamble with the lives of a million people?


Any that are still ongoing. Nothing is certain, ever. The benefits must outweigh the risk, airstrikes would probably suffice, they don't have to be carried out by the United States.

How many innocents are you willing to let die before military intervention should be carried out?

Continuing on with your hyperbolic line of questioning, at the overthrow question.

No and no. How many lives are you willing to gamble with because of your anti-military stance?
posted by IvoShandor at 8:52 PM on March 7, 2012


Slap*Happy: "3) What Syria is doing, here, now, is so completely off the scale from either of the above points as to make those who try to equate them a laughingstock."
How many have been killed in Syria? Anywhere near what the US and UK et all -- no, not by extraordinary rendition but murdered nonetheless, they're dead whether it's from a smart bomb or beatings in a dank room -- have there been anywhere near the amount of killings in Syria that the "Coalition Forces" pulled off in Iraq and are still pulling off there and in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

Our govts cannot pretend to be holier than thou, we've got far more blood on our hands than they do. Any announcement made by any govt official re this mess, said govt official should deliver his/her message dressed in white butchers apron, white except for the blood all over it.
posted by dancestoblue at 8:53 PM on March 7, 2012


Documented Civilian Deaths From Violence: 105,511-115,233
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:56 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The benefits must outweigh the risk, airstrikes would probably suffice

And if they don't? Every airstrike has a chance of killing innocent people. And there are 2.6 million people in Damascus, most of whom support the regime. You'd have to destroy roads, factories, power plants, anti-air installations, airforce bases. You're talking about killing thousands of people at best.

And in Syria, there isn't even a rebel army to support. Libya was split in two by the time we went in and they had government and a city in complete control.
posted by empath at 8:57 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Agh, so much bullshit talked about this. The only reason Syria is of any interest to the US is that it's parked next to Israel. Similar situations occur all over the globe all the time. East Africa, Chechnya, East Timor. But the US is happy to leave those to the UN. Any argument from morality is bullshit. This is about hegemony, as usual.
posted by unSane at 9:10 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


How many lives are you willing to gamble with because of your anti-military stance?

The US has no trade or diplomatic relations with the Syrian government. What they do is their responsibility, not mine.
posted by empath at 9:15 PM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Syria's deputy oil minister 'defects': First high-ranking civilian to abandon Bashar al-Assad says he does not wish to die serving a "criminal regime".
posted by homunculus at 9:41 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The US has no trade or diplomatic relations with the Syrian government. What they do is their responsibility, not mine.

Obviously, we disagree, but I was only posing similar questions to what you asked me. My question was pretty absurd, and I believe your tirade of questions were similarly so. I get the absolutionist stance on military intervention but I do not agree with it. I'm just going to leave it at that.
posted by IvoShandor at 10:33 PM on March 7, 2012


Not sure why anyone is getting so worked up about US involvement in Syria. There's not a chance in hell we take any significant military action. Instead, we will continue what we are currently doing, which is completely appropriate: pushing for sanctions at the UN, publicly shaming Russia & China, and possibly supplying nonlethal aid to the rebels. I would prefer for us to provide lethal aid, like anti-tank missiles, but that looks highly unlikely. Maybe Qatar and Libya can pick up the slack, as in:

Russia says Libya training Syria rebels

Now there is some chance of US action against Iran, which is also fine and appropriate. If we can't persuade them nicely to give up on nuclear weapons, then we will definitely have to bust some bunkers.
posted by metaplectic at 10:45 PM on March 7, 2012


What Russia taught Syria: When you destroy a city, make sure no one -- not even the story -- gets out alive.
posted by homunculus at 10:56 PM on March 7, 2012


Now there is some chance of US action against Iran, which is also fine and appropriate. If we can't persuade them nicely to give up on nuclear weapons, then we will definitely have to bust some bunkers.

Okay, can you prove they are developing weapons?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:03 PM on March 7, 2012


Simple: Send in the Turks. And let them all fantasize about the caliphate all they wish.
posted by Goofyy at 3:36 AM on March 8, 2012


Okay, can you prove they are developing weapons?

This is utterly irrelevant. It is enough that they are tiptoeing toward the potential capability by enriching uranium nearly to weapons grade, and we cannot allow them to continue.
posted by metaplectic at 10:25 AM on March 8, 2012


Okay, can you prove they are developing weapons?

This is utterly irrelevant.


No comment.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:34 AM on March 8, 2012


No Refuge: Syrians fleeing the massacre back home battle boredom, callous foreign governments, and growing religious rifts.
posted by homunculus at 11:56 AM on March 8, 2012


Simple: Send in the Turks. And let them all fantasize about the caliphate all they wish.

Turkey has been secular for a century.
posted by dhartung at 12:25 PM on March 8, 2012


metaplectic: Do you want to bomb Brazil and Argentina as well ?
Also could you clarify your "We" because I for one do not subscribe to your ideas.
posted by adamvasco at 12:38 PM on March 8, 2012


Dhartung, the place of religion in society has nothing to do with the Turks taking out that Half-ass Assaud (spelled something like that) character. As for the caliphate: that was a government, and I said 'fantasy'. After all, it was the height of their civilization, and an impressive one, at that.
posted by Goofyy at 11:48 PM on March 8, 2012


Modern Turkey is the height of their civilization.
posted by humanfont at 12:33 PM on March 9, 2012


Apparently Syria is still on UNESCO's human rights committee.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:56 AM on March 10, 2012


U.S. officials: Assad could survive Syria revolt
posted by homunculus at 2:43 PM on March 10, 2012


Syrian Notebooks by Jonathan Littell in the LRB.
posted by adamvasco at 8:37 AM on March 12, 2012


Children Apparently Clubbed in Syrian Massacre
Sky News and the Telegraph both reported the bodies of 26 women and 21 children had been found with stab wounds, some with their throats cut. "Some of the children had been hit with blunt objects on their head, one little girl was mutilated and some women were raped before being killed," said Hadi Abdallah, an activist in Homs quoted by both outlets. Syrian state television blamed the killings on "armed terrorist gangs" out to discredit the regime, Sky reported.

posted by Joe in Australia at 4:45 PM on March 12, 2012


From what appears to be an offical Syrian government news outlet: Syria Vehemently Condemns Israeli Aggression on Gaza Strip
A statement by the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry highlighted Syria's stress on the importance of taking immediate action by the international community to halt these vicious aggressions, inflict punishment on those behind them and work on lifting the unjust siege imposed on this Strip since years.

posted by Joe in Australia at 2:36 PM on March 13, 2012


Yes, America can act in Syria!
... there are some clear steps the Obama administration can take to enhance its policies and behave proactively rather than reactively. First, it should stop talking about the “inevitable” fall of the Syrian regime and clearly announce that regime change in Damascus is a goal of US policy. Having determined and announced that, a great deal of clarity should follow
I think this is the most sensible article I've read on the Syrian situation, but it's a bit aspirational when it talks about
developing well-structured relations with the Free Syrian Army and other armed rebel groups, and doing much more to reach out to Syrian confessional and ethnic minorities, as well as offering far-reaching, ironclad guarantees about their status in a post-Assad future.
So I give it three out of five.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:14 PM on March 13, 2012


Exclusive: secret Assad emails lift lid on life of leader's inner circle
posted by Artw at 11:25 AM on March 14, 2012


The emails thing is now a FPP.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:27 PM on March 14, 2012


Rescue of 'martyrs' yields survivor in Syria
The video shows the bodies of a family in Homs.
"Let the world see," a voice says in a video.
A child crawls out from hiding, over a body, to reach his rescuers.

posted by Joe in Australia at 3:41 PM on March 15, 2012


Syria to push on with “war of attrition,” analysts say.
Live updates from nowlebanon
posted by adamvasco at 4:27 PM on March 15, 2012


First anniversary of the Syrian uprising: a year of protest in amateur videos from France 24.
posted by adamvasco at 5:34 PM on March 15, 2012


Adamvasco, try this link: Live updates on Syria’s uprising
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:39 PM on March 15, 2012


Thanks Joe. France 24 link is via Juan Cole which also has a 4mb UN map dated 12 march but I can´t download it to see properly as I´m on a slow connection
posted by adamvasco at 5:46 PM on March 15, 2012


I didn't find the huge PDF to be especially informative, although I suppose it's nice that the topography of entirely irrelevant mountain ranges is portrayed with such extraordinary precision. I couldn't see any correlation between ethnicity and reported deaths or number of protests. The only insight I took from it is that the reported deaths and the number of reported protests are unrelated: huge numbers of deaths are reported in Homs, with only a few reported protests; Dayr Ar Zor in Syria's east has more reported protests with a tenth as many casualties. This might be because of difficulties in movement and reporting, or differing levels of government control, or distinctions between protests and outright rebellion.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:32 PM on March 15, 2012


Syria: Army Planting Banned Landmines
Witnesses Describe Troops Placing Mines Near Turkey, Lebanon Borders

If these mines are being placed to stop refugees leaving Syria then it's quite extraordinary.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:04 PM on March 15, 2012


Turkey considers ‘buffer zone’ along Syrian border; clashes rage on in Damascus.
posted by adamvasco at 7:29 AM on March 16, 2012


Serious question: Does "buffer zone" mean anything other than "we're militarising our border to keep refugees out"?
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:29 AM on March 17, 2012


Syria: Damascus firefight points to major escalation in conflict
posted by homunculus at 12:24 PM on March 22, 2012


Syria accepts Annan peace plan: spokesman

Here's hoping, but how can there possibly be any humanitarian outcome that allows Assad to remain in power?
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:20 AM on March 27, 2012


Top 5 Dangers that the Syria Conflict could Destabilize its Neighbors.
posted by adamvasco at 2:24 PM on March 31, 2012


What, Syria might destabilise its neighbours? This would be Syria, which was the headquarters for Hamas until Khaled Meshal got scared of the uprising; Syria which occupied Lebanon from 1990 until 2005; Syria which remains the main conduit of arms for Hezbollah; Syria, which is widely believed to be behind the assassination of dozens of anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians (including the then-PM)? That Syria?

Well, yes, I suppose it's possible that events subsequent to a change of regime in Syria might destabilise its neighbours, but implication is that Syria was a force for stability in the first place. And suggesting that this is what we should be worried about, rather than the continuing wholesale slaughter of civilians, is just concern trolling.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:57 PM on March 31, 2012


Clinton Builds Gulf Military Ties While Urging Democracy
posted by homunculus at 4:18 PM on April 2, 2012


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