Violence In Syria Escalates As World Powers Meet To Decide Strategy
The first step will be recommitment to a cease-fire and implementation of the six-point peace plan. The transitional government will be a key to this process. Al Jazeera reported:
“A crunch meeting in Geneva on Saturday agreed that a transitional government ‘could include members of the present government and the opposition and other groups and shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent,’ said Kofi Annan, the United Nations and Arab League special envoy on Syria.”
When asked about Assad’s place in this plan, Annan continued:
“The document makes it clear that we have provided guidelines and principles to assist the Syrian parties as they move ahead with the transition and establish a transition government and go through changes required. The future of Assad will be left to them.”
But, he reasoned, “I would doubt that Syrians…would select people with blood on their hands to lead them.”
That sentiment was echoed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said not only that the plan for a transition government “paves the way for a post-Assad” government, but also that Assad “will still have to go, he will never pass the mutual consent test given the blood on his hands.”
According to CNN, “the agreement is a last-gasp attempt to end the carnage in Syria and contain a growing crisis that some diplomats warn could potentially engulf the entire region.”
As the opening session began in Geneva, Annan stated: “We should never have reached this point…The way things have been going thus far – we are not helping anyone.”
“Speaking ahead of the meeting, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Russia and China were making negotiations on the subject ‘very difficult.’
“In his remarks to the conference, Hague urged his fellow delegates to heed Annan's words and ‘act with urgency and determination, to create a roadmap to lead Syria back from the brink, and to insist on its full implementation.’
“Without concrete steps there will be no hope of changing the situation on the ground, he said.”
Meanwhile, the situation on the ground has gotten worse, as reports of the most fatal 24-hour period of the conflict in Syria roll in.
One hundred ninety civilians were killed in Syria Friday, and although rebels had captured two Syrian generals, the violence surmounted every other death toll reported since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began. The Damascus suburb of Douma reported the largest number of casualties.
The New York Times reported:
“A spokesman for the Syrian Observatory said the death toll on Thursday was the worst of any single day this year, with 125 confirmed civilian fatalities as well as the deaths of 65 fighters reported but under investigation. The observatory considers a death confirmed when videotape or other documentary evidence identifying the victim is received.”
This new report comes after 139 civilians had already been killed on Thursday.
According to the New York Times:
“June appears to have been the deadliest month in the 16-month conflict, with 1,771 civilians killed, according to the observatory’s figures. With rebel military deaths, the toll rises to about 3,000 so far — compared with 411 total deaths in June 2011.”
Kofi Annan told the meeting in Geneva on Saturday:
“We face a heavy responsibility today. The world is looking to us for leadership and action to end the bloodshed and horror in Syria.
“We have a choice: we can unite around a robust and effective plan to achieve a ceasefire and a political transition in Syria and we can agree to give this plan the force and backing of a UN security council resolution. Armed with that, we can launch a concerted attempt to halt the violence once and for all.
“Or we can fail to overcome these differences, miss the opportunity to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough, and watch the situation deteriorate further.
“The cost of any such failure would be…to turn a humanitarian crisis into a catastrophe.”
Read more of Neon Tommy's coverage of the conflict in Syria here.