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    » 08/03/2012, 00.00

    SYRIA - VATICAN

    Syria at a dead end: listen to the Pope (and Kofi Annan)

    Bernardo Cervellera

    Kofi Annan’s resignation casts a dark shadow over the situation in Syria. The escalation of violence is the responsibility of Assad and the opposition, whose plans for the nation’s future rest on eliminating each other. Divisions mire the Security Council: member states choose sides and sponsor their military and economic support. Annan: We need a comprehensive political process. The Pope: "wisdom of heart " to reach a political settlement.

    Rome (AsiaNews) - Kofi Annan's resignation from the post of UN peace envoy for Syria has cast a dark shadow over the present and future of the Middle Eastern country. The daily reports of massacres on both sides; the deadly bombing of cities by the Syrian army, coupled with the oppositions use of increasingly heavy weapons demonstrate that what has become a civil war is unlikely to have winners or losers: with all involved having decided to eliminate their opponent and plan a future without them, the two sides have unleashed a war to the bitter end.

    Even if Assad thinks he will prevail, Syria will never be the country it was before the uprising: he will not only have to battle al Qaeda, the Free Syrian Army, or "terrorists", but the majority of the population who are now demanding a role in the future of the country.

    And if the opposition wins, it's almost certain that there would be another civil war: so far, in fact, the is opposition frayed with each group pursuing its own path and unable to stitch together a semblance of  future unity among themselves.

    Kofi Annan's lucid analysis denounces - openly and explicitly for the first time- both sides for the escalation of the conflict, taking away the aura of "partisan heroes" which the rebels have enjoyed so far.

    But Kofi Annan especially accuses the UN Security Council and the international community of being divided of continuing to "point fingers" and "offend" each other.

    United States, Britain and France have continued to criticize Russia and China for blocking decisive UN resolutions against the Syrian regime. But they - and especially the U.S. - have made the overthrow of Assad and his government an integral part of the resolution. By demonizing Assad they run the risk of another Iraqi failure, when at the fall of Saddam Hussein, the U.S. eliminated the bureaucracy and the administration of the Baath Party, condemning the country to years of anarchy and violence.

    For their part, Russia and China (and Iran) flaunt their patronage over Syria, but they have never once offered any reasonable path for peace, contenting themselves to defend their relationship (even commercial) with Damascus.

    The Arab League, and especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar, an unlikely pulpit, continue to condemn the Assad dictatorship in defense of the Arab revolution provided that it stays outside their borders. And to combat a feared Iranian hegemony, they prefer to deliver Syria into the hands of al Qaeda and other Islamic fundamentalists, who have difficult lives in Riyadh and Doha.

    The arms trade would deserve a chapter all on its own.  In support of its chosen side each nation provides the following:  helicopter gunships (Russia), communications and intelligence tools (France, Great Britain, United States); heavy weapons and money (Saudi Arabia and Qatar). The very nations that mandated Kofi Annan to seek a possible peace are all involved in the arms trade!

    In an editorial published on the website of the Financial Times, Mr Kofi Annan asks the great and small powers to take the situation seriously. The former UN secretary says Russia, China and Iran "should take joint efforts to persuade the Syrian leadership to change course and embrace a political transition," even if it means the departure of Assad. The Western powers, the Saudis and Qatar "must put pressure on the opposition to follow an inclusive political process - which must include communities and institutions that are currently associated with the government."

    The profound harmony between Annan's pleas and those of Benedict XVI during the Angelus on July 29th is striking. The pope, who follows the events in Syria "with apprehension," said he is praying to "God for wisdom of the heart, particularly for those who have the greatest responsibility, so no effort is spared in the quest for peace, even on the part of the international community, through dialogue and reconciliation, for the proper political settlement of the conflict. "

    The point is that the pope has at heart, "the tragic and escalating episodes of violence in Syria with the sorry sequence of dead and wounded, including civilians, and a large number of displaced and refugees in neighboring countries." What we don't know however, is what the Security Council or Arab League members have at heart. Perhaps only the meanest of interests.

     

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    See also

    18/02/2012 SYRIA - CHINA
    Chinese envoy in Damascus to "strengthen cooperation"
    Beijing remains opposed to a violent regime change or the intervention of an external military force and hopes for the expansion of the internal dialogue and reform. Yesterday 40 people were killed.

    25/02/2012 SYRIA
    "Friends of Syria" arm rebels and sanction Assad
    The opposition confirms receiving arms from Western countries. Saudi Arabia decides to arm the rebels and overthrow Assad. France, Great Britain, the United States are pushing for a resolution of the UN Security Council. Hamas sides with the opposition, for an "Islamic Syria". Damascus declares that the Tunis meeting supports "terrorism". Tomorrow the referendum for new constitution.

    17/02/2012 SYRIA - UN
    UN General Assembly condemns Syria
    The non-binding resolution was supported by 137 in favour, 12 against and 17 abstentions. It does not criticize opposition violence. Ban Ki-moon calls on Assad to stop possible "crimes against humanity". Russian and Chinese envoys in Damascus; in Tunis, Western and Arab countries studying support maybe even military intervention. No attention paid to what Syrian people want.

    06/12/2011 SYRIA
    Damascus accepts Arab observers, but on conditions
    Assad has informed the Arab League of his assent to observers to monitor the situation in order to avoid a tightening of sanctions. However, he also places conditions, which the Arab countries will discuss. Today Hillary Clinton meets with opposition in Geneva.

    29/10/2011 SYRIA
    The Arab League calls on Damascus to stop the killing of civilians
    An "urgent message" of the Ministerial Committee. But the killings continue: Friday, there were 44 victims, according to opposition sources, who call for a no-fly zone. Talk of an armed anti-regime force: the claim is supported by reports of an attack on a few checkpoints, that killed 17 soldiers.



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