UN Panel Accuses Syrian Government of Crimes Against Humanity – Alan Cowell and Steven Lee Myers
A United Nations panel concluded Thursday that ”gross human rights violations” had been ordered by the Syrian authorities as a matter of state policy, amounting to crimes against humanity. The panel of three investigators, led by Paulo Pinheiro, a Brazilian professor, said the orders had come from ”the highest levels of armed forces and the government.”
”The commission received credible and consistent evidence identifying high- and mid-ranking members of the armed forces who ordered their subordinates to shoot at unarmed protesters, kill soldiers who refused to obey such orders, arrest persons without cause, mistreat detained persons and attack civilian neighborhoods with indiscriminate tank and machine-gun fire.” The investigators said the report was based on 369 interviews with victims, witnesses, defectors, and other people with ”inside knowledge” of the situation in Syria. (New York Times)
List of Top Syrian Officials Suspected of Crimes Against Humanity Given to UN – Stephanie Nebehay
A confidential list of top Syrian officials suspected of ordering crimes against humanity including murder, abductions and torture has been given to the UN for possible future prosecution, UN investigators said on Thursday. Syrian forces bent on crushing a popular uprising have shot dead unarmed women and children, shelled residential areas and tortured wounded protesters in hospital under orders from the ”highest level” of army and government officials, an independent panel said in a report. The three-member panel had drawn up a secret list of names of commanding officers and officials alleged to be responsible for gross violations. (Reuters)
Analysts: Syria’s Alawites to Fight to Death for Power (AFP-Daily Star-Lebanon)
Israel Watches Syria, Hopefully, But Warily – Ethan Bronner
Israelis see the downfall of Assad in Syria as welcome since it would deal a major blow to Iran. But without a central authority, Syria could descend into chaos and enable terrorist bases on Israel’s northeast border. Israel worries that the Golan Heights could become to the north what the Egyptian Sinai has become to the south: a staging ground for anti-Israel action. This led an aide to Prime Minister Netanyahu to say that it was lucky Israel had never returned the Golan Heights to Syria since it has served as a buffer to the violence in the past year. (New York Times)
America’s Alibis for Not Helping Syria – Fouad Ajami
The silence of President Obama on the matter of Syria reveals the general retreat of American power in the Middle East. Yet topple the Syrian dictatorship and the access of Iran to the Mediterranean is severed, leaving the brigands of Hamas and Hizbullah scrambling.
Plainly, the Syrian tyranny’s writ has expired. Ironically, it was the Assad tyranny itself that had provided transit and sanctuary for jihadists who crossed into Iraq to do battle against the Americans; it even released its own Islamist prisoners and dispatched them to Iraq with the promise of pardon.
It is an inescapable fate that the U.S. is the provider of order in that region. We can lend a hand to the embattled Syrians or risk turning Syria into a devil’s playground of religious extremism. The Syrian army is demoralized and riven with factionalism and sectarian enmities. It could be brought down by defectors given training and weapons; safe havens could give disaffected soldiers an incentive, and the space, to defect. In a battered Syria, a desperate people await America’s help and puzzle over its leader’s passivity. The writer is a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. (Wall Street Journal)
A Time to Act: The U.S. Needs to Help the Syrian People – Editorial (New Republic)
Syria’s Arsenal of Unconventional Weapons Must Be Destroyed – Lenny Ben-David
Syria has hundreds of long-range missiles, some equipped with cluster-bomb warheads suitable for dispersion of chemical weapons. Some of the chemical warfare activity is done in cooperation with Iran, which provides training and equipment. A CIA study released in 2010 stated, ”Syria has had a CW [chemical weapons] program for many years and already has a stockpile of CW agents, which can be delivered by aircraft, ballistic missiles and artillery rockets.” Persistent reports over the last decade suggest that Saddam Hussein smuggled elements of his WMD programs to Syria before he fell.
The destruction of Assad’s WMD and missile arsenal would be a powerful signal to the ayatollah regime in Iran to ”cease and desist” its nuclear weaponization program. It would be proof that indeed ”all options are on the table” – including wiping Syria’s table clean. The writer was deputy chief of mission of Israel’s embassy in Washington. (Times of Israel)