Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

February 12, 2012

Syria on Sunday

Filed under: International HLS,Radicalization,Strategy,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on February 12, 2012

Emerging from consultations in Cairo on Sunday, the Arab League is calling for a joint Arab-UN peacekeeping mission to end the 11-month conflict in Syria.

In a resolution seen by the BBC but not yet officially released, the Arab League scrapped its observer team, suspended last month, and said it was ending all diplomatic co-operation with Syria.

Damascus “categorically rejected” the resolution, a Syrian envoy said.

The League’s moves come a week after a UN Security Council resolution on Syria was vetoed by Russia and China.

The BBC’s Jeremy Bowen in Cairo says the resolution contains the toughest language on Syria by the Arab League so far and makes it much more likely that the issue will return to the Security Council.

Continue reading the BBC story

UPDATE (1435 Eastern):

An English text of the resolution is available at the Arab League website, but the site is unstable and pages are not fully loading.  I expect this is due to significant demand.  Worth checking later this evening.


The English text has disappeared.  The original Arabic text is available at: http://arableagueonline.org/wps/wcm/connect/dbd065804a2433d984769c526698d42c/7446.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

Following is the best English language summary  I have found of the Arab League resolution:

At the conclusion of its meeting in Cairo, the Council issued Resolution No. 7446 on the “follow-up developments of the situation in Syria,” which  rejected and condemned the continued killings and violence in Syria and the continued retention of the military option, which is contrary to the obligations set forth in the resolutions of the Council of the League of Arab States and the Arab Plan of Action. (Palin note: The reference to the “military option”  is ambiguous and I don’t have the Arabic to confidently clarify.)

The Council of the League of Arab States calls on the United Nations Security Council for a resolution to form an Arab peace-keeping forces jointly with the UN to oversee the implementation of a ceasefire. It was also decided to stop all forms of cooperation with the diplomatic representatives of the Syrian regime in each member state and in international bodies and conferences.

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs agreed to end the monitoring mission of the Arab League, due to problems under the protocol signed between the Syrian government and the Secretariat of the League, and drew the call to the Secretary-General to name a special envoy to pursue the political process proposed in the framework of the Arab initiative.

The Council welcomed the offer of the Tunisian Republic to host the Conference of Friends of Syria to be held on 24.02.2012, and decided to open channels of communication with the Syrian opposition and provide all forms of political and material support to it. The Council also call on the Syrian opposition to unite and engage in serious dialogue to advance its coherence and effectiveness prior to the Tunis conference.

The resolution emphasized the validity of the economic boycott with the Syrian regime, except those directly affecting the Syrian citizens in accordance with the decisions of the Council of the League on this issue.

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Comment by Claire B. Rubin

February 12, 2012 @ 6:09 pm

Let’s hope sanity prevails, and soon.

Comment by Dan O'Connor

February 12, 2012 @ 9:12 pm

It will be very interesting to see how this Arab league initiative prevails…Muslims engaging Muslims and much of the old rhetoric we heard over the last twenty + years should prove interesting.

What also will be interesting is their effectiveness on gathering, potentially equipping, and deploying forces. Command and Control non withstanding, it will be both a challange and opportunity. Another chance for the UN to prove some value to the world?

And what will our role be?

In the meantime what about those trapped and being shelled everyday…when does the world rally to their needs?

Very interesting times ahead indeed.

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 12, 2012 @ 9:34 pm

If I understand Phil’s comments responding to me on the Saturday post, then the complexity of the situation in Syria seems far beyond the likelihood of any American comprehension or policy formulation that might lead to successful US involvement. Yet the MSM and others seem to be advocates for a Syria next mission for the US even without UN sanction. Does the Arab League effort provide at least a fig leaf for US involvement?

Is it just me or does anyone else find it strange that AQ attacks on the US have ended up with bringing turmoil to the MENA [middle east/north africa]or is this a stretch and current events in MENA are completely unrelated to what the US did or did not do in the last decade? In other words and mixed metaphors was 9/11/01 actually a Arch Duke type assassination event in Serbia in 1914 for the world–violence unleashed and no longer possible to control?

Increasingly I find it worrisome that violence in MENA and perhaps elsewhere looks somewhat immutable to reason? Having itself promoted violence, is the US capable of restraining violence as the basic approach to international relations by much of the world?

Worried here about a slow motion Sarajevo [sic] fallout whatever other apocalyptic visions exist.

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 12, 2012 @ 10:14 pm

Again I find very unclear the reasons
China and Russia vetoed the UN Resolution! Even reading this weeks ECONOMIST I found that newspapers explanation very weak.

Does anyone have what they think is a good answer?

Comment by Philip J. Palin

February 13, 2012 @ 5:00 am

Bill: I have not read this week’s Economist (yet), but I will point to an older Economist piece for a big part of the answer. From the perspective of Moscow and Beijing, in Libya NATO went far beyond it’s “Responsibility to Protect” mandate. They will not countenance similar action in Syria, for both principled and pragmatic reasons. See: http://www.economist.com/node/18709571

In another comment you have been sifting through possible historical analogies for recent events. Two that have been on my mind: 1) The League of Nations failing to take action regarding the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. 2) The Nazi war machine practicing on Spanish Republicans.

If the analogies apply, we might look at other events in the period 1935-1939 to consider our options. Let’s hope both analogies are undone by actions yet to come.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

February 13, 2012 @ 6:15 am

Bill: I argue that what AQ did in the US was an expression of a pre-existing conflict within Islam. We are the side-show. The main event is at the fault line of modernity and tradition in the Muslim world, and especially in Islam’s Arab, African, and other tribalist settings. Muslims who have transcended tribalism, for example Indonesia, Turkey and the United States, have reached a much more effective accommodation with modernity than have more tribalist cultures. The Prophet was a universalist. Not all those who claim the Prophet have made the transition.

In terms of US willingness to use force, I will point to Robert Kagan and others who argue it is often our forceful presence that suppresses greater violence. For more see: The Importance of U.S. Military Might Shouldn’t Be Underestimated.

In the case of Syria I am not (yet?) suggesting the Kagan argument should be applied. But the argument cannot, should not, be ignored or dismissed.

Comment by Syria: The Veil of Evil Widens

February 13, 2012 @ 7:19 am

Russia and Cina will formulate more and more such relations as it has been so written. The outcome to Syria’s present will Not come out favorably and Turkey will have little influence on an Egypt soon to become far more fundamentalist causing much more instability in the region and guess what…our aging aircraft, naval vessels and the Brits w/o aircraft worthy aircraft carrier and so much more [articularly now that Winston Churchill has departed…do you really believe that Barry Obama or even Mitt Romney and their parties will lead us to some moment shouting with exhiliration, Eureka…I no very improbable as verse has been written and given the ways of the “Beltway Bandits” as I refer to them…gather up your food, the few coins remaining, if any, as this “Goldman Sachs” administration w/”Smug-smiled Pelosi” have taken everything practically in one swoop and in direct violation of the Constitution which I hold them in treason to the principals of our Judeo-Christian nation and do intend to cast my vote in the next election writing God into the ballot for there is apparently no one at the helm and we have far surpassed hitting the shoals, we are sinking and sinking fast and my front porch flag is turned upside down depicting the distress we now confront because of the ineptness and self-serving ways…oh…that’s right…we have Scott Brown to save us – I don’t think anyone has a grasp as to what this hugh trillions in debt has done to erode this nation and look at the numbers and it is Barry Obama and the fellas on both sides of the aisle which qworry those of us on “Main Street USA’ the most…We already have read scripture to tell us what will happen in the Middle East with our question…when will this nation repent and stand forthright against evil doers, when all we see are fund raising and self-serving agenda prevail and No one discussing the issues of the day….

Treason…treason and it will be the newly organized ten (10) nation EU led by the Assayrians and their new modern fast deployment armies and shiny new vessels and a side kick and ever powerful Vatican who will dupe us as well and we are headed for War..no question and so written….

We have lost our way…and our once great and beloved Republic has suffered much from within and We have chosen to turn our cheeks, each of us responsible to demand transparency from local, state and federal and you “Citizen Joe” during this your watch…well, at $3.82 a gallon and spoaring prices to follow, this is a good mark to show you the real status of what is going on here , never mind amidst the den of evil ones who will cause much despair for certain on shores far yonder and far beyond our reach as we are no longer the beacon of hope to the oppressed, We are the oppressed and government intends to continue to impose itself upon you….the weakened and indifferent taking Democracy and Life as well as God’s words in dictate for granted as you see the Federal Reswerve print and print federal reserve notes in stimulus monies which are not even accounted fofr and their banker pals have reaped billions while you are tossed from your homes, children so disrupted…families so broken..men and women acting towards one another in such disrespectful ways as there is no food to feed the kids and many now living in their automobiles as the kids dress for school and wave goodbye to their parents sitting in the car!

Christopher Tingus
“Main Street USA”

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 13, 2012 @ 9:03 am

After giving much thought to Syria and pretending I am the President, I believe that a long term de minimus USA interface with the MENA [Middle East and N. Africa] would allow the world to view this arena and this arena to view itself as outside the primary national security interests of the USA. Instead of pretending that our foreign policy is totally independent of OIL politics and Israeli foreign policy the US is a disruptive force that keeps giving Islam in the MENA excuses to keep from reforming and modernizing. There is plenty of money and resources if that arena is looked at in its totality. Oddly I think Turkey is now and has been for some time the key player. WE are locked into a NATO arrangement with them but as many who read this blog or my blogs or comments on other blogs understand I believe time for the USA to withdraw from NATO is long past.

I commend the President for the recognition of the underlying reality of the future in the Pacific region and Asia. We are now faced with both Taiwan and Japan the world’s second largest and 10th or 11th largest economies becoming fully incorporated into what I have called the Chinese condominium. Both of those economies can only survive long term by reaching deep political accomodations with China.

Unless China implodes, and it may well do so, it is the major international relations factor for the USA in this Century’s remaining decades. This does not mean military confrontation.

The self-destruction of the nation-states in MENA is not a pretty thing to watch. But the corruption and self-dealing of its [MENA’s] leadership and elites should cause others with the same problems to be alert.

The list of nation-states that try and provide the best for all their people whatever their political systems is rapidly dwindling. This should be the major concern of the USA.

Devastating as the oil shocks have been, and few have identified the energy sector as one of the key culprits in the financial collapse of 2008 [gas at the pump reached an average above $4.00 nation-wide for the first time in USA history] it is the willful allowance of the hollowing out of the American economy to benefit China in the last two decades that has caused the most problems. In fact the undercutting of NAFTA and Mexico just as that agreement was signed by Chinese policy meant that the underpinnings of NAFTA were almost immediately destroyed. Result is a failed state next door that still does not get the attention it deserves.

Immigration, legal and illegal, is still possible as an explosive issue that could turn that policy failure into a significant campaign issue. International refugee movements are and should be of significant concerns to policy makers.

The bottom line is that the oil petrocracies and Islam should be left to reform themselves. It is not in the long-term interest of the USA to try and reform them.

Oh and I just learned that followers of Islam believe that MORMONism is not a Christian sect. I leave their reasons to the theologians. It appears in Syria the Christians are largely siding with the ASSAD regime.

Comment by Dan O'Connor

February 13, 2012 @ 9:45 am

…It appears in Syria the Christians are largely siding with the ASSAD regime.

Of course; its self preservation of the highest order. Watching what the COPS are going through in Egypt as well as the regional demonization of Christianity and Judaism its reasonable, sane, and survivalist behavior.

And there is speculation that Assad summoned all his Christian leaders and gave them an ultimatum; side with me or watch your churches burned and congregations massacred. Now there’s a tough leadership question, isn’t it?

So in terms of acquiescence, what are they to do? While noble to sacrifice ones life for religious faith it is another to walk head long into the gunfire. There is ample anecdotal evidence that Christians are being persecuted worldwide, so if 10% of Syria’s population is Christian and they are somewhat dormant it’s understandable.

What is also very interesting is our role, post Libya, Iraq, and our relationship with Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran. If energy requirements were not tied to this region I wonder how much we would worry about it?

I say that guardedly after we and many nations watched multiple genocides in Africa. What was our role in preventing those? There is some rigorous thought in these series of blogs and retorts. Tough and complex times lie ahead…complex times indeed.

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 13, 2012 @ 10:47 am

Dan! I would argue that world energy issues are tied to MENA but not for the USA although admitting energy resources at least oil are an international market and somewhat fungible.

I note that the WSJ is today belatedly indicating that Japan’s going non-nuclear is putting stress on international LPG and other gas supplies.

As far as am concerned the single highest national security priority for Japan is energy and instead of being the world leaders in green energy by now they bought off on the USA pressure to go nuclear power instead. Now that entire industry looking like a write-off of the capital investment by Japan. WOW!

Comment by Philip J. Palin

February 14, 2012 @ 9:51 am


Yet… access to oil — both for ourselves and our trading partners — is a matter of national interest. Yet… the security of Israel is important to many Americans. Yet… the struggle of any people to throw off oppression is an issue no freedom loving people can disdain without tempting self-disdain.

Profound differences were once divided by long-distances. Today they meet on the streets of Kano, Cairo, Karachi, Kolkata, Jakarta and along trade routes, supply chains, communications networks, and more creating a sometimes surreal, but nonetheless very real proximity.

While our comparative advantage has narrowed, the United States remains the richest and most powerful nation on the planet. Given the dense connections of the contemporary world I don’t know that we can realistically choose a de minimus engagement with any major region. In trying to do so we would mostly forsake the opportunity for self-interested insight and foresight. “Their” problems will eventually become our problems despite our most disciplined restraint.

I’m afraid — and I mean that literally — we are left to engage as best we can, so we might as well do so with as much intelligence, commitment, and courage as we can muster.

Comment by Ted

February 28, 2012 @ 4:41 am

Syria is a police state, built upon the Nazi system of control, (brutal supression of any threats against the government). It is not a free nation.

At the end of WW2 Syria gave sanctuary to Nazi gestapo criminals in exchange for their expertise in police matters.

Talking to this type of people is useless, they will protect their positions of power in very violent actions (as we are seeing).

Isolate them , although I see Russia and China supports them (weapons obviously).

its a mess,

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