Both sides violating Syria cease-fire. Still worth supporting? (+video)
United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon called on all parties in Syria to stand by the cease-fire, which has been repeatedly violated by both the government and the opposition.
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There are a number of theories about who is behind the bombings of the last couple months: the government, trying to discredit the opposition; Al Qaeda-linked Syrian Islamists with experience fighting in Iraq; and the mainstream opposition, despite its denials.Skip to next paragraph
Middle East Editor
Ariel Zirulnick is the Monitor's Middle East editor, overseeing regional coverage both for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She is also a contributor to the international desk's terrorism and security blog.
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The Monitor reported yesterday that Syria's uprising may be drawing militants looking for new opportunities after Iraq and Afghanistan, although at least some appear to be Syrian nationals; a salafi jihadist group has claimed responsibility for recent suicide bombings, and the names of its leader and one of its martyrs suggests they hailed from Damascus and the Golan Heights. But a prominent Lebanese militant was among those recently killed.
Earlier this year Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called for Muslims in neighboring countries to assist Syria's opposition. But rebels and opposition figures haven't appeared to welcome the call; they deny they are receiving help from Al Qaeda and insist the uprising is being fueled by domestic forces.
"The only Al Qaeda cells that operate in Syria are those manipulated by Assad's security apparatuses," said Ammar Abdulhamid, a US-based Syrian opposition activist in an online newsletter emailed [Monday]. "The suicide bombings are directly staged or facilitated by them. Issues pertaining to the timing and the real beneficiaries, and everything we know about the Assads' involvement in terror networks, all point in this direction."
Recently, prominent US senators have declared that the UN peace plan for Syria has failed. But such declarations are premature, says Marc Lynch of Georgetown University. In April 25 testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, posted on his Foreign Policy blog, he said:
"It is time for the Obama Administration to acknowledge what is obvious and indisputable in Syria: the Annan Plan has failed." This declaration by Senators Lieberman, McCain and Graham on April 19, 2012, came only one week after a United Nations-backed ceasefire came into effect, and two days before the passage of a unanimous United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing a 300 member team to monitor the ceasefire. The urgent, and admirable, imperative to do something to help the people of Syria should not rush the United States into a poorly conceived military intervention. The painstakingly constructed international consensus in support of diplomacy and pressure should not be abandoned before it has even had a chance.
It is far too soon to give up on a diplomatic process which has just begun. Rather than rush into a risky, costly and potentially counter-productive military intervention, the United States should give the current plan time to work. It should continue to lead international efforts at the United Nations, promote the demilitarization of the conflict, continue to increase the pressure on the Assad regime, build on the efforts underway with the "Friends of Syria" group, support the political development of the Syrian opposition, and prepare the ground for future accountability for war crimes.
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