FACING THE MUSIC

25 March 2012 07:32 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The recently issued joint call by the UN Security Council that was supported by Russia and China — both had previously vetoed an anti-Syria sanctions resolution — may have made it crystal clear to Assad where things are headed. What is being striven for is to end the fighting, gain greater access for humanitarian assistance and aid agencies and start political talks between the warring factions. Russia’s warning should have been enough of a hint that Moscow no longer wants to put all its eggs in Assad’s basket. Clearly the Russian rejoinder that the crisis has been mishandled shows obvious displeasure over how Assad has disregarded all counsel and behaved in a manner that had forced a rethink on his ally’s part. With the Syrian first lady now facing a possible travel ban and sanctions by the EU, the noose around the ruling family and associates is getting tighter. The question is how long can the regime continue its brute repression and show such flagrant disregard of human lives to stay in control? While Damascus has rejected any element of threat in the Security Council call, it chooses to ignore the basic facts. The continued killing of civilians after the UN’s demand can only force the world community to consider more drastic deterrents. Does Assad really think that Beijing and Moscow could be banked upon in case a future resolution comes up? Not likely since there has been a perceptible shift in attitude towards the Syrian crisis in both capitals. Assad should understand that this may be the last opportunity being given to him to end the violence and discuss political transition in a peaceful manner. Importantly, the UN statement does not make it mandatory for him to step down at this juncture — something the Syrian opposition groups have been demanding. This is something the Syrian leader must weigh carefully. Staying on in power is something that may have become near impossible now and it may be better for him to negotiate a peaceful end to defuse the crisis. Khaleej Times
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