Roughly a year ago, the Syrian government failed to adequately protect the American embassy in Damascus. In response, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slammed the Assad regime by declaring it had "lost its legitimacy." She followed this comment by declaring that "President Assad is not indispensable and we have absolutely nothing invested in him remaining in power." Her powerful comments lead many to believe that tough action would be taken against Assad in an attempt to quickly bring about an end to the country's conflict.
As I noted, that was a year ago. In the time since, roughly 8,000 more Syrians have been murdered and most recently, there have been two abhorrent massacres in as many weeks. The Houla and Qubeir massacres have targeted women and children with the implicit tactic of trying to instill fear in the anti-Assad denizens.
As a response to these kinds of atrocities, the UN has sent observers into the area with the hope of preventing these sort of massacres. Quite obviously, this diplomatic approach has utterly failed. Even with the presence of these UN observers as an integral component of the Kofi Annan peace plan, these massacres are still taking place.
With the Houla massacre, the UN observers had an immensely difficult time making it to the site. And when they were finally able to, they quickly determined that it was the fault of the Syrian regime. Evidence showed that over 100 people were massacred, including more than 30 children; all at the hands of tanks and other heavy artillery.
The setting this time was macabre and potentially fatal for the UN observers. In their attempt to reach the site of the massacre in Quebir, the UN envoy took fire. Fortunately none of the observers were killed in the minor skirmish. But nonetheless it shows the escalation of the Syrian regime's cockiness.
In the wake of this latest atrocity in Hama, Turkey has rebuffed its harsh condemnation of Assad and the Syrian regime. Furthermore, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon had echoed the global claim that Bashar Al-Assad has now "lost all legitimacy." After 11 months, the UN is now on the same level as the U.S. with respect to the Syrian regime.
Even the figurehead at the center of the attempt to resolve the Syrian crisis by diplomatic means, Kofi Annan, has changed his tone. Annan acknowledged that his peace plan has failed to be implemented -- which comes as no surprise to many. Furthermore he stated that "brutal repression, massacres, sectarian violence, and even all-out civil war" face Syria on the road ahead.
I don't know where Kofi Annan has been, but Syria is already in the thick of what he described. I was quite optimistic about Annan's efforts for conflict cessation in Syria, but never really thought it would hold. My predictions from last year, civilian massacres, mass atrocity crimes, and violations of human rights have been unfortunately coming to fruition. I know I write a piece about this nearly every week, but the problem is not going away. It is getting worse. My predictions and assumptions have yet to differ from what eventually transpires.
It's certainly easy to discuss these matters in terms of diplomatic theory and hypotheticals. Yet the fact still remains, the death of 15,000 Syrians is not some theoretical scenario. Stronger action must be taken. The situation in Syria is more dire than what happened in Libya, and eerily similar to Bosnia in the early and mid 1990's; the Syrian's cry for democracy is just as deafening as Egypt's was. The international community must act.
Now, I'm certainly not advocating an Iraq style invasion. Turkey has repeatedly said that it could invoke the support of NATO's Article 5 to combat the Syrian regime. NATO has consistently backed up these claims of Turkish defense meaning that the burden would not be squarely on America, whether financially or militarily. A la Operation Odyssey Dawn, we could lead from behind, gradually easing in with a no-fly zone.
To continue this pattern of American abdication in Syria will be a deleterious mark on America's record in history. The claim that Syria is just Iraq version 2.0 holds no water. This time the premise for the international community to intervene is starkly different. Just because a country is in the Middle East does not mean it parallels their neighbors in the region. That said, the claim for human rights is universal. People suffering at the hands of their own government should never be abandoned, regardless of the geographic location. The time to act is now. The global community needs to rally behind the latest calls of Hillary Clinton and Ban Ki Moon. Hopefully in pursuing this course, these most recent massacres could be some of the last.