Syrian opposition forms unity council, hoping to continue Arab Spring
Creation of the Syrian opposition's unity council comes as the US is set to call for a UN resolution to consider further sanctions against Syria if it does not halt the crackdown that has left some 2,700 dead.
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Still, even Syrians who may wish for a NATO-style military intervention “can’t say it, because people say, ‘You are with the West. You are a traitor,’” notes Makhous.Skip to next paragraph
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The official SNC statement agreed to on Sunday rejects any move that “compromises Syrian sovereignty,” but also called for action.
“The Council demands international governments and organizations meet their responsibility to support the Syrian people, protect them and stop the crimes and gross human rights violations being committed by the illegitimate current regime,” the SNC said.
US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford on Tuesday added to American pressure on Syria in a BBC interview in Damascus. He has been active in calling the regime to account for its fierce crackdown; his vehicle was attacked in recent days by pro-regime elements using concrete blocks and iron bars.
The US has “never laid out how, or what, that Syrian transition should be. That’s up to the Syrians to do,” Mr. Ford told the BBC. “It is the government’s incredible repression, the brutality, which is actually raising tensions here. It is the government’s repression which is actually stirring up more violence, and it is the government’s repression which is preventing a political process from moving forward peacefully.”
US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, speaking on Monday in Tel Aviv, said Assad’s fall was inevitable and that Washington and European capitals had “made clear Assad should step down.” “While he continues to resist, I think it’s very clear that it’s a matter of time before that [departure] in fact happens,” Mr. Panetta said. “When it does, we don’t know.”
Targeting Syrian ex-patriates
Trying to prevent that outcome have been Syrian agents abroad, according to the Amnesty report.
“Expatriate Syrians have been trying, through peaceful protest, to highlight abuses that we consider amount to crimes against humanity – and that presents a threat to the Syrian regime,” said Neil Sammonds, Amnesty International’s Syria researcher said in a statement.
“In response the regime appears to have waged a systematic – sometimes violent – campaign to intimidate Syrians overseas into silence,” said Mr. Sammonds. “This is yet more evidence that the Syrian government will not tolerate legitimate dissent and is prepared to go to great length to muzzle those who challenge it publicly.”
“Every day is an unimaginable reality in Syria.…The brutality is unreal,” says SNC member Hachimi. “We don’t want to go down the road of international intervention, but the people are now crying out for help. They are starting to ridicule our demands to keep it peaceful.”
The result inside Syria is that commitment to nonviolence has sometimes flagged.
“We are beginning to see people taking up arms, and they have the right to defend their own homes,” adds Hachimi. “At the same time, the clear vision to keep [protests] peaceful is understood, to avoid a civil war.”