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Updated: March 9, 2012 03:59 IST

Syrian conflict set to enter its next phase

Atul Aneja
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BITING TIMES: A Syrian refugee girl eats plain in the Lebanese town of el-Fakha in the eastern Bekaa Valley on Thursday. Photo: AFP
AFP BITING TIMES: A Syrian refugee girl eats plain in the Lebanese town of el-Fakha in the eastern Bekaa Valley on Thursday. Photo: AFP

The fate of the Syrian regime led by President Bashar Al Assad continues to hang in a balance ahead of another possible vote next week in the United Nations Security Council following the upcoming visit to Damascus by Kofi Annan, the U.N. and Arab League special envoy on Syria.

As behind the scenes activity picks up, the Syrian President would be hoping that Russia and China do not dilute their support for him, analysts say. The two countries had earlier vetoed a western — backed Arab resolution that would have toppled Mr. Assad from the Presidency.

The country's Vice-President and a national unity government would have then filled the breach.

So far there are no indications that the Chinese are budging fundamentally from their previous stand. After a visit to Damascus by China's former ambassador to Syria, Li Huaxin, Beijing has signalled that it might have managed to persuade the Assad government to allow humanitarian supplies into Syria, under the U.N. flag, with the country's national sovereignty fully respected. In a media briefing on Mr. Li's visit, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said: “The Syrian government spoke positively of China's six-point proposal. The Syrian government side states it would like to cooperate with the U.N. agencies in the humanitarian field, on the basis of respecting Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Coinciding with Mr. Li's visit, China had listed a six-point proposal to defuse the crisis, where it has been emphatic in stating that the “international community should earnestly respect the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Syria and the right of the Syrian people to independently choose their political system and development path”.

During his visit Mr. Li “urged the Syrian government to stop the violence immediately, actively cooperate with the U.N. and I.C.R.C. to ease the humanitarian situation, in particular in Homs,” the spokesman said.

Shedding some of the opacity for which it had been earlier criticised, the Assad government on Wednesday, allowed Valerie Amos, the U.N. chief for humanitarian affairs, to visit the battle-torn Baba Amr district in Homs, the epicentre of the anti-Assad revolt, which, Syrian forces had overrun last week.

“The visit was for assessing the situation there and we didn't distribute aid in Baba Amr today,” Khalid Ariksusi, head of the operation section in the Red Crescent, said. The Syrians were now preparing to receive Mr. Annan who would be in Damascus on Friday, after spending the previous day in Cairo with representatives of the Arab League.

With the Presidential elections out of the way, Russia's voice against foreign intervention in Syria appears to have grown louder. Russia's envoy to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin has now accused pro-west Libya of supporting a “special training center for Syrian revolutionaries”. He added: “We think that Al-Qaeda is in Syria and therefore there the question arises: Is transporting the revolution not turning into the transporting of terrorism?”

As the conflict begins to enter its next phase, the United States has expressed caution about using military force against Syria. At a Senate hearing on Wednesday, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin E. Dempsey underlined some of the perils of attacking Syria. He said that Syria has “approximately five times more sophisticated air defences than existed in Libya covering one-fifth of the terrain” and “about ten times more than we experienced in Serbia.”

He also pointed out that Syria possesses stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. At the same venue, U.S. Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta said that instead of plunging into war, Washington was considering supplying non-lethal equipment, such as radio equipment, in order to fight the Assad regime.

Inside Syria, the Deputy Oil Minister, Abdo Hussameldin has defected to the opposition — the highest ranking officials to do so, since the anti-Assad uprising began a year ago. In Homs, fresh evidence of foreign intervention has apparently surfaced, with the Syrian army capturing 13 French officers, the Lebanese newspaper Daily Star is reporting.

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I wonder why a country like China has been assigned a position in UN
security council-and the right to veto..
China can hardly establish consensus within its own borders, what the
heck can it do to establish world peace??? Chinese officials never
hesitate to crush down any form of opposition be it the peaceful
opposition by the monks or from any social activist. The Communist
regime in the country can't be openly challenged due to the fear of
being quelled with a heavy blow..
Chinese interference in world matters and especially in Syria, makes
me very concerned about the future of Syria. However from India's
optimistic stance on Syrian issue, I think it can play a huge role in
balancing relations and solving the civil war crisis that has been
looming around Syria for past few months...
The passive reaction shown by India even after successive wounds
inflicted from across its western border only accentuates its
sensibility.

from:  Aditya
Posted on: Mar 10, 2012 at 19:48 IST

Why we still speak of the Left and the West? Why can't we think of the
thousands already died and much more number of people dying and being
tortured as being reported by the Media? Its shame for us to say
'Humanity' while even those who don't get out of the home are killed
with bullets and shells

from:  Habeeb
Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 16:13 IST

If the reported capture of as many as 13 French officers in Homs is true,the Syrian conflict has entered an entirely new phase.In Libya too things began to hot up once the CIA was said to be operating with the rebels in Bengazi.Overall,the West seems to depend more on stealthy infiltration and subversion in Syria because it has no UN mandate for open intervention.

from:  Ravi Damerla
Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 06:25 IST

Kofi Annan was humiliated by Tony Blair......................Saddam was
the sufferer at that time. Kofi Annan seems to be a Western puppet as he
could not oppose Bush and Blair.
Only Russia and China can save the "free World" from the onslaught of
the Western hypocrites.

from:  Sadasivan
Posted on: Mar 9, 2012 at 01:29 IST

Basically the West is allowed to arm and transport terrorists (and take part in terrorism) in other countries, but if someone else does the same to them it is not acceptable. The west needs to take the log out of their own eye first before looking at specks in other people eyes.

from:  M Cose
Posted on: Mar 8, 2012 at 23:46 IST
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