- Posted July 7, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The Mideast Watch - Syria Edition - July 6th
A powder keg waiting to explode is the way many perceive the Mideast. The events in the region could set off in many people's estimates a cascade that could emesh the US of A in more military action.
Most of the Western nations along with the Arab League are getting weary of the strife, atrocities and raging war inside Syria. But the question remains if outside influences will have any impact as Bashar Al-Assad attempts to hold to power.
The United States and its European and Arab partners will threaten the Assad regime with global sanctions if it fails to quickly implement a Syrian peace plan that includes the appointment of a new interim government, U.S. officials said Thursday on the eve of an 80-nation conference.
In Paris, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton joined senior officials from about 100 other countries to win wider support for a Syrian transition plan unveiled last week by U.N. mediator Kofi Annan. Joined by America's allies, she called for “real and immediate consequences for non-compliance, including sanctions,” against the Assad regime.
But with neither Moscow nor Beijing in attendance, much remained dependent on persuading the two reluctant U.N. veto-wielding powers to force Assad into abiding by a cease-fire and the transition strategy. Clinton urged governments around the world to direct their pressure toward Russia and China, as well.
A U.N. resolution could be introduced next week, according to American officials who previewed Friday's "Friends of the Syrian People" gathering in Paris on condition of anonymity. But with neither Moscow nor Beijing in attendance, much will remain dependent on persuading the two reluctant powers to pressure Assad into action.
They've twice stood in the way of U.N. condemnations of Assad's government. And Moscow, whose sole naval base in the Mediterranean Sea is in Syria, maintains close military cooperation with Damascus.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says the Friends of Syria meeting in Paris will not be just abstract talks but are aimed at bringing practical support to the Syrian people.
Fabius tells Le Parisien newspaper that there is a clear need to move forward in Syria. He says the barbarism of President Bashar al-Assad risks civil war and spreading sectarian violence to neighboring countries.
Secretary Clinton says it is not enough for the so-called Friends of the Syrian People to support Assad opponents when Russia and China are "holding up progress."
"I ask you to reach out to Russia and China and to not only urge, but demand that they get off the sidelines and begin to support the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people," Clinton said. "It is frankly not enough just to come to the Friends of the Syrian People because I will tell you very frankly, I don't think Russia and China believe they are paying any price at all, nothing at all, for standing up on behalf of the Assad regime."
"We now have them on record supporting a transition," Clinton added. "And we should go back and ask for a resolution in the Security Council that imposes real and immediate consequences for non-compliance, including sanctions under Chapter 7."
The UN Observers: Major General Robert Mood told reporters Thursday in Damascus that it is time to stop spreading the team out "too thin" and that the U.N. Security Council will decide on the future of the mission in the coming days and weeks.
"Whatever decision the Security Council makes, the international community's continued responsibility to the Syrian people is moral as well as political. We cannot and we will not turn our eyes and ears away from your plight," said Mood. "And we'll continue our work to find new paths to political dialogue and peaceful resolution to the crisis."
Close Friend & General Defects: One of President Bashar al-Assad's personal friends has defected and was headed for exile in France on Friday, as the Syrian crisis took on a Cold War tone when Washington threatened to make Russia and China "pay" for backing the government in Damascus.
Manaf Tlas, a cadet college classmate, Republican Guard general and son of Assad's father's defense chief, has yet to surface abroad, or clearly to throw his lot in with the rebels, who acknowledged the loss of one of their strongholds overnight.
But his desertion, leaked by family friends, was confirmed by the French government. That gave a boost to a conference it hosted in Paris at which Western powers and Sunni Arab rulers, bitterly opposed to Assad's Iranian-sponsored administration, agreed to "massively increase" aid to the Syrian opposition.
"Manaf is one of the regime's main figures," said Bashar al-Heraki, a member of the Syrian National Council, the umbrella political group in exile. Al-Heraki, who sits on the council's military coordination committee, said Tlass would soon publicly declare his defection, but he declined to confirm reports that the general was in Turkey.
Rampage in the Streets: Syrian forces killed at least 25 people, arrested scores of others and torched more than 100 homes while seizing a northern city from rebels, activists said Friday.
From the Cornfield, the US of A presidential election may very well be decided on what happens in The Mideast.