The violence continues unabated in Syria. Dead bodies lie in the streets of Deraa, site of the initial protests. Snipers are stationed on the roof, where they’ve continued shooting, and mortar shells are falling around the city. Deraa feels like Misurata, Libya. Tanks have rolled into other cities, and in one border town near Lebanon, thousands of refugees crossed over after shooting there.
Despite all this, the UN Security Council could not agree on a resolution to even condemn violence in Syria that has taken as many as 500 lives.
The deeply divided UN security council failed to agree on a European and US-backed statement condemning Syrian violence against protesters on Wednesday, with Russia saying security forces were also killed and the actions don’t threaten international peace.
“A real threat could arise from outside interference or taking of sides,” Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, Alexander Pankin, warned the UN’s most powerful body during a public session that followed, saying this could lead to civil war.
China and India called for political dialogue and peaceful resolution of the crisis, but did not condemn Syria. And Lebanon’s UN ambasador, Nawaf Salam, stressed the country’s special relationship with Syria, saying “the hearts and minds” of the Lebanese people are with the Syrian people and are suppporting President Bashar Assad’s lifting of the state of emergency and his reforms.
That doesn’t bode well for any sanctions regime. Unlike with Libya, the international community is far more divided on Syria.
I don’t see much danger of the US acting unilaterally, however. The McCain-Graham-Lieberman triumvirate, instead of promoting the bombing of yet another Middle Eastern country, want the President to say that Bashar al-Assad should step down, which actually isn’t that bad a request (unless you expect their ulterior motive is to force the hand of the President to back up the talk with action that escalates over time). McCain has stated publicly that he does not support US or NATO action in Syria.
So the protesters are largely on their own despite the brutal repression. In one bright spot, 200 Baath Party members in Deraa resigned their posts:
Two hundred members of Syria’s ruling Baath Party from the province of Deraa and surrounding regions resigned on Wednesday in protest against an attack by security forces on the southern city.
Resigning from the Baath Party, which has ruled Syria since taking power in a 1963 coup, was unthinkable before pro-democracy protests erupted in Deraa on March 18.
“In view of the negative stance taken by the leadership of the Arab Socialist Baath Party toward the events in Syria and in Deraa, and after the death of hundreds and the wounding of thousands at the hands of the various security forces, we submit our collective resignation,” said a declaration signed by the Deraa officials.
This in no way cripples the regime, but it shows some slippage in Assad’s iron grip on power. Baath Party membership affords practically all privileges in Syria, so it’s a major step to resign. This is why you’re seeing this level of repression in Deraa. But the repression has only led to a greater backlash on a kind of feedback loop.
Tomorrow, protesters have called for a Day of Rage after Friday prayers. Perhaps the Syrian security forces will pull back, perhaps not. Perhaps protesters will be intimidated away from taking to the streets, perhaps not.