Syrian Ambassadors Defect, Turkish Border Closes
With violence in Damascus and Aleppo rising, Syria’s ambassador to the U.A.E. has defected to Qatar, following his wife, the Syrian envoy to Cyprus, who defected Tuesday. Abdelatif al-Dabbagh and Lamia al-Hariri are the second and third most senior diplomats to defect thus far after the former ambassador to Iraq who is also in Qatar.
Meanwhile, A U.N. spokesperson announced Wednesday that Turkey is closing its border to Syria for all commercial traffic in both directions. The border will continue to be open, however, for refugees, who will continue to be welcomed in Turkey. Only three border posts on the Turkish-Syrian border had still remained open. It was also revealed Wednesday that half of U.N. observes in Syria have left the country. Two anonymous mission members said 150 observers permanently left the country Tuesday after an internal decision to halve the staff.
Additionally, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov criticized the U.S. Wednesday, saying American policy toward Syria is a “direct endorsement of terrorism.” Speaking at a press conference in Moscow, Lavrov said Russia was investigating reports of terrorist groups seizing border crossings in Turkey and Iraq, and condemned the U.S. and U.N. Security Council for not failing to denouce this.
Tom Friedman argues the prospects for a positive outcome in Syria are low in a piece entitled “Syria is Iraq.” Friedman points to Syria’s similarities to Iraq as “ a multisectarian, minority-ruled dictatorship that was held together by an iron fist under Baathist ideology” as evidence of the need for some well-armed external force to manage a transition through inevitable sectarian struggle. Glenn Greenwald blasts Friedman’s analysis, however, pointing out that the American presence in Iraq led to the sectarian civil war and was ill equipped to “manage” the conflict.