By: Lauren Saccone
For months, the situation in Syria has been deteriorating. President Bashar al-Assad’s violent assault on his own people has created outrage throughout the international community. Peacekeeper forces count the death toll in the thousands, with many of the victims reported as children slaughtered by military forces. Everyone agrees that something needs to be done before Syria falls into a brutal a bloody civil war. The problem is, nobody seems to agree on what those actions should be.
Many believe the solution to the crisis in Syria centers around the peace plan drawn up by United Nations mediator Kofi Annan. The six-point plan has been bandied around for months, and although Syrian officials originally seemed receptive towards the idea, they have not yet agreed to adopt it formally.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has officially endorsed Annan’s peace plan. Fabius intends to go before the United Nations Security Council and recommend that the peace plan be made mandatory for Syria.
“Every day dozens and dozens of Syrians are dying at the hands of Bashar al-Assad’s regime,” he told reporters. “We have therefore decided to strengthen our efforts to stop this regime of death and blood.” France is currently considering a no-fly zone to emphasize their resolve on this issue.
The situation is only complicated by Russia’s involvement. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed concern over reports that Russia has been sending attack helicopters to the Syrian government. Russian and Syria have a long history as allies, strengthening the reports.
“Russia says it wants peace and stability restored,” Clinton said to officials in Washington. “It says it has no particular love lost for Assad and it also claims to have vital interests in the region and relationships that it wants to continue to keep. They put all of that at risk if they do not move more constructively right now.”
Russian officials did not appreciate this accusation. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov fired back, stating that any arms deals they have with Syria are well within the constraints of international law, which “contrasts with what the United States is doing… which is providing arms to the Syrian opposition that are being used against the Syrian government.”
The United States immediately denied these accusations. Regardless of the official statements, al-Assad’s forces continue to be supplied with arms. And there are signs that the Free Syrian Army, the main force of the opposition, is receiving weapons from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Reports indicate that the US is behind this arrangement.
With Russia and the United States busy accusing each other of illegal arms dealing, the rest of the international community is at odds on how to proceed with Syria. Some are saying the civil war so many feared has already begun, and the situation must be reevaluated accordingly.
Meetings are scheduled this week between diplomats from Syria, France, and the United States. Meanwhile, the UN is holding emergency sessions. But while politicians and officials bicker and squabble, the people of Syria continue to suffer as the violence rages on.
[Pic via Flickr -FreedomHouse]