New Syria Agreement Made in Geneva
Diplomats gathering in Geneva Saturday to discuss Syria have forged an agreement that includes another ceasefire and a transitional government that can include current members of the regime, but only if Syrians choose so. Hilary Clinton praised the agreement saying President Bashar al-Assad “will still have to go, he will never pass the mutual consent test given the blood on his hands.” Critics derided the agreement as a weak version of the original Kofi Annan peace plan. The Geneva meeting was described as very pessimistic, with Annan himself saying, “we should never have reached this point.”
Meanwhile, another 53 were killed across Syria on Saturday, as government forces stormed the city of Douma where hundreds of mostly women and children are trapped. Men in the city have mostly fled, including almost all of the doctors and medics, and the city’s hospital is under the control of the military. Fighting also continued in Damascus, where helicopters reportedly shelled several neighborhoods.
Additionally, Mark N. Katz of the Moscow Times compares Russia’s response to Syria to the U.S.’s response to Bahrain, criticizing both of them for their support of minority rule over a majority in order to protect strategic naval interests. Katz says “the most uncomfortable similarity of all between Russian support for the Assad regime and U.S. support for the Bahraini monarchy may be the loss of influence in these countries as a result Washington’s and Moscow’s short-sightedness and their lack of desire to push for a peaceful transition to majority rule.”
Also, Douglas Hamilton writes a detailed personality analysis of Bashar al-Assad, contrasting his previous reputation in diplomatic circles as an ophthalmologist who would rather be a “philosopher-king” with the brutal leader willing to risk everything that he is now. Hamilton writes Assad “shows no outward sign of the ruthlessness, charisma and menace of the archetypal autocrat” but he is a calculating strategist who uses quasi-scientific