Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Syrian Opposition: Down But Not Out

In Syrian Regime Resembles Mafia Cartel, Der Spiegel is reporting that although the Syrian regime seems to be gaining momentum in quashing the rebellion--the opposition against Assad is actually growing:
On the one hand, the regime's military machine is taking city after city. After capturing Baba Amr and now Idlib in the north, it is now attacking Daraa in the south. Residential neighborhoods are shelled by tanks and artillery. There are reports of people executed with shots to the head, corpses found with their eyes poked out and children beaten to death.

The borders with Lebanon and Turkey are being transformed into minefields where fleeing civilians are maimed or killed. A recent report by Amnesty International lists 31 methods of torture used by the regime, including electric shocks, rape and the so-called "German chair," which can result in permanent damage to backs and limbs.

Even with a death toll of 8,000 people, at least according to a conservative estimate by the United Nations, the US, Europe, Turkey and the Arab states are still shying away from doing more than issue sanctions and stern warnings as long as Russia and China, which both hold permanent seats on the UN Security Council, continue to block every resolution against Syria. There are no plans for military intervention or supplying arms to the rebels.

On the other hand, instead of dying down, the rebellion is growing. Contrary to assumptions that the pitifully armed Free Syrian Army (FSA) is weakened with each defeat, Assad's troops can barely keep large areas of the country in check. Government forces were able to shell Baba Amr, a suburb of Homs, on three sides, yet the big Sunni quarter in the heart of the city remains largely in the hands of the rebels. There are now daily protests even in Aleppo, the once calm financial and commercial center in the north.
Unfortunately, the status quo is not sustainable. If the Syrian regime continues to gain momentum, the opposition will lose the support of the people and be exhausted.

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