Assad’s growing desperation

WHILE EGYPTIANS celebrate, Syria continues to crash and burn. And not only has Assad’s regime stepped up its rampage to crush any form of domestic dissent, he’s also challenging any semblance of international interference in Syria.

Last Friday, Syria downed an unmanned Turkish jet, claiming that it had entered its airspace — an explanation negated by Turkish authorities who assert that the reconnaissance plane was within international space. But to add fuel to fire, a second Turkish plane— intended for collecting wreckage of the first plane— was also shot at by Syrian authorities on Monday, according to Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister.

Turkey has threatened retaliation and taken its complaint to the Nato. And this is not the only pressure that the draconian Syrian regime faces on the international front. The EU has tightened its sanctions on Syria, particularly targeting “banking, military and state media entities”.

Assad is definitely counting on his three international allies — China, Russia and Iran — for continued support, but deep down he knows that his luck is running out. Last week, he announced the formation of a new cabinet— a move that was clearly a sham. But the fact he felt pressured to put up an empty show of political reform is an indication of his insecurity. The high-profile defections of military officers are also a telling sign of the progressive weakening of the Ba’athist regime.

But unfortunately, Assad’s fear that his administration’s days are probably numbered has made him step up the offensive. The ever increasing headcount of massacred Syrians is proof of the fact that the debilitated regime will stop at nothing to sustain itself.

So how will the international community curb Assad’s escalating tyranny? For the strategic players, a military offensive is not a viable option. China and Russia, driven by their own strategic interests, are vehemently against a UN Security Council-backed offensive in Syria. Whereas the EU and the US also remain opposed to the idea of a Nato-led military action for fear of the Nato overstepping its mandate as it did in Libya. And the Arab League has emphasised on a ceasefire and an orderly transition in Syria.

So if the option of force has been jettisoned, what exactly is the international community’s plan of action now? How will they exercise their responsibility to protect the Syrian people? All important players are expected to discuss Syria’s situation at a conference in Geneva on June 30. However, for this meeting to be successful, international players should devise a clear proposal of how to stop the killings. And all strategic players need to be coaxed into accepting this plan urgently, because without a clear consensus and will of the international community, ordinary Syrians will continue to perish.

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