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Syria: A country in distress and on the brink

The news today reveals another alleged massacre in Syria.     Who's to blame remains the $64 million question.   Government, or so-called rebels, matters not as the seeming endless violence continues.   In the meantime, world leaders talk, talk and talk........but no decisive or positive action, of any sort, to bring the bloodshed to an end.  Syria looks like a country on the abyss.

Patrick Cockburn, writing on CounterPunch, brings things up to date from Damascus....

"Damascus feels like a city expecting the worst to happen and seeing no way to avoid it. War is spreading across the country and is unlikely to spare the capital. Rebels speak of stepping up attacks in the city and could easily do so in the next few weeks.

I spent the last week in Damascus and the atmosphere reminds me of Beirut in 1975 at the start of the 15-year civil war. Again and again in conversations, people realistically laid out for me the nasty things that are all too likely to happen, but few were able to produce plausible ideas on how disaster might be averted."


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"At the heart of the Syrian crisis is a revolution against the police state run by the Assad family for 40 years. But there are two parallel struggles going on that taint and complicate this popular uprising. One is the struggle of the Sunni Arab powers, led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, against the Shia. The other is the US and Saudi-led confrontation with Iran, whose most important ally in the Arab world is Syria. Weapons from Saudi Arabia are now reported to be reaching the insurgents. Iraqi officials say that al-Qa’ida fighters in Diyala province north-east of Baghdad, notorious for massacring Shia villagers and travellers, have headed back to Syria."

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"President Bashar al-Assad will not go quietly and believes he does not have to go at all. Here lies the problem at the heart of the Syrian crisis, where Russia has some right on its side and President Putin’s critics are mistaken. Mr Assad’s regime is being asked to reform itself and, at the same time, to drop dead politically and pass out of existence. These aims are contradictory. Why should the Syrian government modify its behavior if the true purpose of international pressure is regime change?

Regimes changed in Iraq and Libya because they were defeated in war by the Western powers (the Libyan rebels would not have lasted a week without Nato support).

If the Western powers are not going to go to war in Syria, and can’t get the Turks to do their dirty work for them, then they should push for reform and power-sharing that leaves a modified version of the Assad regime in place. This would be difficult for the Russians to oppose and would relieve the fears of Iran. The alternative may be a long war that will tear Syria apart."




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