Sunday, January 15, 2012

Syria: Growing Pressure for Military Intervention

Pressure for a military intervention in Syria is growing as President Bashar al-Assad sends out mixed messages on his intentions.
One member of the Arab League, Qatar, has called for troops to be sent in to stop the regime’s killing of Syrians opposed to Assad. Qatar played a leading role in support of ousting the late Muammar Gaddafi.
“Today, I say again to President Assad of Syria: Stop the violence. Stop killing your people. The path of repression is a dead end,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said in a  a conference on democracy in the Arab world held in Lebanon on Sunday.
"The lessons of the past year are eloquent and clear. The winds of change will not cease to blow. The flame ignited in Tunisia will not be dimmed. Let us remember as well, none of these great changes began with a call for a regime change. First and foremost, people wanted dignity," he said.
Assad, promised a referendum on a new constitution in March and said he was issuing a countrywide general amnesty for those involved in protests. However, he also said he would use an “iron fist” to suppress his opponents, who he said were backed by Western governments and media.
 The Guardian reported Assad vowed "God willing, we will be victorious … We are nearing the end of the crisis." Supporters cheered him at the end of what was described as a rambling 100-minute speech at Damascus University.
Russian media, which had roundly condemned the Libya intervention, was more reserved on the Syrian situation. Moscow, however, continues to oppose sanctions. The U.S. has indicated support for intervention if the bloodshed does not stop.
Arab media carried a wide variety of reports ranging from Assad would install a new government in February to Moscow refusing to support Damascus because the death toll was too high.
The U.N., relying partly on human rights organizations, says 5,000 have been killed by Assad’s troops. The government claims up to 2,000 soldiers have died.
Although Syria’s military is stronger than the forces Gaddafi deployed, the country is much smaller geographically and is surrounded by much stronger armies, including Turkey.

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