Countries Diverge in Providing Syrian Support; Violence Spikes
On Tuesday, during a speech in Geneva, Navi Pillay, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, referencing Syria said, “there must be an immediate humanitarian cease-fire to end the fighting and bombardments…I remain convinced that referring the situation of Syria to the International Criminal Court will be a step in the right direction.” These comments come in the wake of investigators supplying the U.N. with a list of Syrian officials suspected of crimes against humanity, something which the U.S. labeled “heinous and unforgivable.”
Pillay’s speech coincides with Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui, Syrian ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, storming out of the U.N. Human Rights Council, after he demanded other countries stop “inciting sectarianism and providing arms” to the opposition. Hamoui also accused the sanctions leveled against Syria as “unjust” and “are preventing access to medicines.” The E.U. has imposed sanctions on seven Syrian cabinet ministers accused of supporting the crackdown on protesters.
Writing an op-ed for the New York Times Anne-Marie Slaughter argued that simply arming the opposition could trigger a proxy war, and she advocates creating “no-kill zones,” with an explicitly defensive intent. In response, Stephen Walt, writing for Foreign Policy, stated that once a “no-kill zone” is created there will be an obligation to defend the safe havens. If Syrian forces “start shelling the rebel areas, then we will have to defend them or risk humiliation,” thus, leading to “inexorably to an active military effort to overthrow the Assad regime.” Regardless of the consequences, or positive measures of support, Saudi Arabia has begun arming the opposition, as Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that Saudi Arabia “will never abandon its religious and moral obligations towards what’s happening.” Qatar may also be positioning itself to start arming the opposition, as Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani said on an official visit to Norway, “we should do whatever necessary to help them, including giving them weapons to defend themselves.”
Tunisia announced it will offer Syrian President Bashar al-Assad political asylum if it would help end the crackdown and alleviate the prolonged violence in Syria. “Tunisia is ready in principle to grant political asylum to Bashar al-Assad and his family if this proposal will contribute to stopping the bloodshed,” said Adnen Monssar, an aide to President Moncef al-Marzouki.