“Friends of Syria” Meet in Paris
Over 100 countries met in Paris today for a “Friends of Syria” conference, with the goal of finding a solution to the seemingly endless violence in the country. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on the U.N. Security Council to pass a resolution for sanctions on Syria, asking participants in the conference to “reach out to Russia and China and to not only urge but demand that they get off the sidelines and begin to support the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.” In further remarks at the conference, Secretary Clinton also reiterated support for Special Envoy Kofi Annan‘s peace plan. For his part, Annan criticized both Russia and western countries for engaging in “destructive competition” and failing to cooperate in finding a solution to the conflict, and called for Iranian involvement, as well.
Meanwhile, inner-circle figure and Republican Guard brigadier Manaf Tlass has defected from the ruling regime after becoming increasingly disillusioned with the government crackdown on the Free Syrian Army. Tlass reportedly grew up alongside Assad, and the two were once close friends. David Schenker writes for The Washington Institute on what the defection could mean in the long term.
WikiLeaks announced that it will be releasing more than two million emails reportedly from Syrian politicians, ministries, and associated western companies. The files, a spokesperson said, will be damaging to both the Assad regime and its opponents.
Michael Knights writes for The Washington Institute that the violence in Syria could potentially spill over the eastern border into Iraq, and the U.S. should use its close relations with Sunni Arab tribes in Iraq to reduce such a risk. “Only by maintaining a detailed understanding of cross-border dynamics,” Knights states, “can Washington hope to strengthen the Syrian opposition while denying al-Qaeda affiliates a greater role in either country.” In an analysis piece for the Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies, Magdalena Kirchner poses the question of the Kurds’ lack of involvement in the Syrian conflict, and examines why this socioeconomically and culturally deprived population has failed to join the uprising.