Archive for Tuesday, February 7, 2012

U.S. closes Syrian embassy as diplomacy collapses

February 7, 2012


— The U.S. closed its embassy in Syria and Britain recalled its ambassador to Damascus on Monday in a new Western push to get President Bashar Assad to leave power and halt the murderous grind in Syria — now among the deadliest conflicts of the Arab Spring.

Although the diplomatic effort was stymied at the U.N. by vetoes from Russia and China, the moves by the U.S. and Britain were a clear message that Western powers see no point in engaging with Assad and now will seek to bolster Syria’s opposition.

“This is a doomed regime as well as a murdering regime,” British Foreign Secretary William Hague told lawmakers as he recalled his country’s ambassador from Syria. “There is no way it can recover its credibility internationally.”

President Barack Obama said the Syrian leader’s departure is only a matter of time.

“We have been relentless in sending a message that it is time for Assad to go,” Obama said during an interview with NBC. “This is not going to be a matter of if, it’s going to be a matter of when.”

The most serious violence Monday was reported in Homs, where Syrian government forces, using tanks and machine guns, shelled a makeshift medical clinic and residential areas on the third day of a relentless assault, killing a reported 40 people, activists said. More than a dozen others were reported killed elsewhere.

Those deaths followed a regime onslaught in Homs that began Saturday, the same day Syria’s allies in Russia and China vetoed a Western- and Arab-backed resolution aimed at trying to end the crackdown on dissent. Some 200 people died, the highest death toll reported for a single day in the uprising, according to several activist groups.

Even as the U.S. steps up pressure on Assad to halt the violence and relinquish power, Obama said a negotiated solution was possible, without recourse to outside military intervention.

Later, however, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the administration was taking “no options off the table.”


Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 8 months ago

Winston Churchill made a very meaningful observation in his autobiography in the section where he discussed the Nuremberg Trials, which were a series of military tribunals that were held by the Allies after World War II.

It was considered unfortunate that before they were held Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, and Joseph Goebbels committed suicide.

In addition to lengthy prison terms for many, there were twelve death sentences handed down: Martin Bormann, Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Hermann Göring, Alfred Jodl, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Wilhelm Keitel, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Alfred Rosenberg, Fritz Sauckel, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, and Julius Streicher.

But, Hermann Göring and Martin Bormann committed suicide before execution.

And there were also other trials held at various locations, which resulted in the death penalty for dozens of former Nazi officials.

Winston Churchill's observation was that this was a terrible precedent to set for future generations, because if the death penalty appeared to be certain after losing power or a war, the leaders of a country would hold on to the bitter end, regardless of the consequences.

Instead, he thought that if a lesser sentence or very quick political asylum were to be granted, in many cases the leaders of a country would give up power or surrender sooner, and thus the power struggle or war would end with far less death and destruction.

So, the precedent was set.

We may be seeing the results of that policy today in that the leaders of some Arab countries are refusing to give up power as long as possible, knowing full well that the longer they can drag it out, the longer they will live.

Saddam Hussein and Hosni Mubarak come to mind, and now Bashar Assad seems to be following in their footsteps.

But, that all may be meaningless in the Middle East, because the death sentence is handed down left and right for transgressions that are considered to be very minor in the modern Western nations.

For instance: For adultery under sharia law, the penalty can be and often is death by stoning. That is firmly rooted in Islamic theology. But, that is an entirely different culture.


So, the Western nations should probably just stay out of the dogfight, and let them kill each other if they want.

"The first thing you need to understand about a foreign culture is that you will never understand it." - Ron Holzwarth

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 8 months ago

Muammar Gaddafi was killed also, I forgot about him.

I lost track, but I have a good excuse. Arabs are killing each other so fast that I can't keep up with it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

I see, the whole "All Arabs/Muslims are the new Nazis, so Israel and the US are justified in doing whatever they want to them" argument.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 8 months ago

Huh? I said they can do whatever they want to each other, and we should stay out of it.

jafs 3 years, 8 months ago

Do you apply that to other ethnicities as well, or only Arabs?

Are you really suggesting that we have no reason to try to prevent innocent people from being massacred by governments, or armed militias, around the world?

It seems to me that if we have any good reason to have a large military, other than defense, that would be it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

"I said they can do whatever they want to each other,"

But you have no problems with Israel doing whatever they want to them, as well (seeing as how they are the new Nazis, and all.)

progressive_thinker 3 years, 8 months ago

"So, the Western nations should probably just stay out of the dogfight, and let them kill each other if they want."

Perhaps this could be re-framed as:

"Western nations should stay out of the fight. There will likely be a lot of bloodshed, but intervention by Western nations will only make things worse."

I agree with you fully that the Western nations should stay out of this, because they can only make matters worse. If Israel does elect to attack Syria (again) or Iran, involvement of the US could only invite an escalation by Russia and/or China. Such an escalation/confrontation would be a disaster.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 8 months ago

Absolutely, progressive_thinker. I have a friend whose mother is Syrian, she grew up in Syria, and about the most polite way to put it was that she was extremely unflattering about her first nationality, was certainly never going to go back, and would never even consider doing such a thing.

And then,,, My friend's brother just had to go to Syria, talked about it a lot, his mother could not talk him out of it, and so once he was old enough to do so and had the money, he went to visit Syria.

I didn't hear him say it myself, I only heard his brother quote what he said before he left while laughing about it. It went something like this: 'I'm 1/2 Syrian, so it will be just fine.'

And so, after talking about going to Syria for years, he finally went to visit the country where his mother had been born and grown up.

As I understand the situation, it went fine for the first few days. But then, he turned a corner, and started walking down the street.

Gunfire erupted, there were bullets flying everywhere, and so he started running.

He packed real fast, took the next flight back to the USA, and never considered going back to Syria again, even though he had been talking about how wonderful it surely must be there for years.

And what my friend had to say went something like this: "The only time the Arabs aren't fighting each other is when they're fighting the Jews." I did hear him say that.

And, he is 1/2 Syrian himself.

So, the Western nations should definitely just stay out of it unless our assistance is requested. Even then I would have doubts.

For examples of how the Western nations past attempts at intervention have turned out, consider Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

The problems that some posters on this forum have is that they do not know very much history, and don't read enough differing points of view in order to narrow down what the truth really is.

Just about every, if not all, source of news the citizens of all nations have is biased in one way or another.

Of course, some much more so than others.

I have an historical point of view that I'll clip and post with a link:

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 8 months ago

Artificially Created States Eli E. Hertz

Fifty-one member countries - the entire League of Nations - unanimously declared on July 24, 1922:

"Whereas recognition has been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country."

Unlike nation-states in Europe, modern Lebanese, Jordanian, Syrian, and Iraqi nationalities did not evolve. They were arbitrarily created by colonial powers.

In 1919, in the wake of World War I, England and France as Mandatories (e.g., official administrators and mentors) carved up the former Ottoman Empire, which had collapsed a year earlier, into geographic spheres of influence. This divided the Mideast into new political entities with new names and frontiers.

Territory was divided along map meridians without regard for traditional frontiers (i.e., geographic logic and sustainability) or the ethnic composition of indigenous populations.

The prevailing rationale behind these artificially created states was how they served the imperial and commercial needs of their colonial masters. Iraq and Jordan, for instance, were created as emirates to reward the noble Hashemite family from Saudi Arabia for its loyalty to the British against the Ottoman Turks during World War I, under the leadership of Lawrence of Arabia. Iraq was given to Faisal bin Hussein, son of the sheriff of Mecca, in 1918. To reward his younger brother Abdullah with an emirate, Britain cut away 77 percent of its mandate over Palestine earmarked for the Jews and gave it to Abdullah in 1922, creating the new country of Trans-Jordan or Jordan, as it was later named.

The Arabs' hatred of the Jewish State has never been strong enough to prevent the bloody rivalries that repeatedly rocked the Middle East. These conflicts were evident in the civil wars in Yemen and Lebanon, as well as in the war between Iraq and Iran, in the gassing of countless Kurds in Iraq, and in the killing of Iraqis by Iraqis, Syrians by Syrians as well as the killing of Egyptians by Egyptians.

The manner in which European colonial powers carved out political entities with little regard to their ethnic composition not only led to this inter-ethnic violence, but it also encouraged dictatorial rule as the only force capable of holding such entities together.

The exception was Palestine, or Eretz-Israel - the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, where:

"The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country [Palestine] under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish National Home, as laid down in the preamble, and the development of self-governing institutions, and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion."

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 8 months ago

"Britain cut away 77 percent of its mandate over Palestine earmarked for the Jews and gave it to Abdullah in 1922, creating the new country of Trans-Jordan or Jordan, as it was later named."

Why aren't the Palestinians wanting their territory back from Jordan? After all, 75% of the citizens of Jordan consider themselves to be Palestinian anyway.

There was never a Jordan or a Trans-Jordan before 1922, when 77% of Palestine was taken away to create it, leaving only 23% for Israel.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 8 months ago

Is = are. I hate those grammatical errors. They are insidious, and I always notice them after I've posted.

cato_the_elder 3 years, 8 months ago

"Arab Spring."

What a joke.

It was laughable when Obama first peddled it, but since then has become tragic.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 8 months ago

I think this is an interesting observation:

During Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 - January 2009, which was undertaken in order to stop the indiscriminate and unceasing rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip, about 1,434 citizens of Gaza were killed. The military operation was not undertaken until after over 1,000 rockets had been fired into Israel.

Source: International Institute for Counter-Terrorism

During the recent unrest in Syria, sources for the number of casualties differ a great deal. But the number is much, much larger than the number killed in the Gaza Strip.

"Activists say more than 7,000 people have been killed since protests began in March last year. The government blames "armed gangs" for the unrest and says more than 2,000 members of the security forces have been killed."

Source: Al Jazeera

The casualties during Operation Cast Lead were considered to be terrible in the Islamic press. But the much larger, by a factor of perhaps four or more, casualties in Syria caused by infighting among Arabs seems to be of much less importance.

It's all propaganda.

Apparently it's just about the same for one Arab to kill four or more other Arabs as it is for one Israeli to kill one Arab during wartime.

And, it has been recently demonstrated that one thousand Arabs in prison are equal to one Israeli in hostage.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 8 months ago

These things are often overlooked, or sometimes not understood:

Arabic is an ethnicity, and Islam is a religion. That is a very big difference.

And Israeli is a nationality, and Judaism is a religion. That's another very big difference.

But, being Jewish is sometimes, but not always, an ethnicity also.

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