By Najah Farley
The Syrian regime has reached a new low with the Houla massacre, where it is alleged 108 people died, 49 of them children. Many were killed in summary executions, as opposed to by artillery or mortar fire. Another group of 14 bodies was discovered that had also been executed. Although the Syrian government claims that these deaths were perpetrated by terrorists, it is clear that even if President Bashar Al-Assad is not giving the direct orders, he is responsible for the killings.
In January, I wrote about the on-going conflict in Syria and the possibility of an international intervention. At the time, the death toll estimate was 6,000 and the Arab League had appointed independent monitors in the country to observe the violence. Now, the United Nations is on the brink of pulling observers out of the country and the death toll is now estimated to be between 10,000 and 14,000. As the Syria crisis continues to escalate, it is clear that intervention will continue to be obstructed by China and Russia, as both countries have blocked action by the UN Security Council and refused to impose sanctions. It is obvious that the Syrian government is not moved by the strong condemnations of the United States and the international community; it will take more direct action, to move the process forward. Will the Arab league be willing to step forward to exert force to protect civilians? Is the United States the only nation that could lead an international force or coalition in Syria? Would an incursion in Syria lead to Iran’s direct involvement?
In the absence of increased international pressure, beyond condemnation and sanctions, President Assad will be empowered to continue. However, like most Americans, I am wary of United States involvement, because it usually requires a long-term commitment to building a new government. Any solution that does not include removing President Assad’s regime, at this point, will be untenable. As a result, it seems that the world has to sit by and watch an internal conflict possibly escalate into civil war, including war crimes and crimes against humanity without recourse, until the pictures and images become too hard for people to bear.