As the world watches, Syria's death toll rises
Published: Saturday, April 14, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
Violence between Syrian government troops and rebel forces came to a halt in many cities Thursday, April 12 after a ceasefire put forth by Special Envoy to the United Nations Kofi Annan went into effect.
Though many areas were quiet, Syrian government troops were reported to have remained present and failed to carry out a full withdrawal. Explosions and violence have been reported in Zabadani, a town outside of Damascus, as well as other scattered areas.
The lack of a comprehensive pullout of troops throughout Syria violates the sanctions placed by Annan’s ceasefire. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said to the body, “Mr. Annan was clear that what the Syrian government has done today does not constitute full compliance.”
“With 9,000 Syrians dead the violence will continue until [either] a concerted international effort brings an end to the violence, or the Assad regime is toppled,” said Khalil Marrar, professor of political science at DePaul.
The mandate by Annan is the first sort of concerted international effort that has explicitly demanded peace in Syria. The ceasefire is the first step in a six-point plan put forth by Annan.
The promise of troop withdrawal by the Syrian government is met with much skepticism. President Bashar al-Assad’s reign has proved to be filled with false promises. In April of 2011, Assad lifted the nation’s state of emergency for the first time since 1963, which led to no reduction in the security force’s tactics of arbitrary arrests and detention for government opposition.
“With a regime filled with so much bloodshed and tyranny it’s difficult to take anything they say seriously,” said sophomore Stanton Valentino. “Why should Assad change now?”
The ceasefire that went into effect on April 12 came two days after government and rebel forces failed to abide by a peace deadline Annan had enacted the week prior.
The agreement for the April 10 deadline, which was established April 2, came a few days after the coalition named “Friends of Syria” prepared to equip the nation’s rebels with international aid. The United States, Saudi Arabia and dozens of other nations are included in this group.
The attempt for full support by the United Nations of the rebel cause in Syria has been repeatedly blocked by both China and Russia; two key members of the body’s Security Council.
If peace is brought to Syria, then the problem of enabling thousands of Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons to return home still exists.
Refugee camps have sprung up where Syria borders Turkey and Jordan. Reports of violence and sexual assault have been reported by Human Rights Watch out of each camp.
Human Rights Watch has also reported the dispersing of banned landmines by Syrian government forces along the Syrian border with Turkey, where many of the refugees have fled. These landmines could prove to be disastrous in the event of thousands of Syrian refugees returning home.
The situation is equally grim for Syrian citizens who did not flee. “I have two aunts that do not want to leave,” said Samia Akhras, treasurer of DePaul’s chapter of United Muslims Moving Ahead (UMMA), “It is their home.”
“A huge issue in Syria is that if you get shot in your leg you have no access to medical attention,” Akhras said. “What do you do in a situation where people are being killed in their houses, raped in their houses?”
It is now the decision of the Assad administration as to whether or not to abide by Annan’s mandate for a full withdrawal of government troops, or continue engaging in a violent power struggle with rebel troops.
The governments of both Assad and his father, Hafez al-Assad, have managed to quell all other rebellions that have occurred while the two have been in power.
“This time it’s different,” said Akhras. There’s no going back. There’s no way they can ever be silent again.”
Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon told reporters in Geneva, “The onus is on the government of Syria to prove that their words will be matched by their deeds at this time.”
In all, the possibility of a peaceful transition of power in Syria lies squarely on the shoulders of Assad, and as the international community continues to step in, the fall of the Assad regime appears inevitable.