Searching for Solutions in Syria

Nile Bowie
June 11, 2012

For sixteen months, the people of Syria have undergone economic hardship, tremendous human suffering and the unparalleled horrors of war. As the Syrian opposition officially abandons the ceasefire and calls for foreign intervention and the imposition of a no-fly zone [1], US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced a new transition plan that would topple the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, signaling the increasing possibility of intervention outside the mandate of the United Nations [2]. Following clashes between militant rebel groups and government forces that claimed the lives of 80 Syrian troops [3], rebels in Aleppo have reportedly taken 11 hostages and vowed to release them only when a new state is established [4]. While Bashar al-Assad attributes the perpetuation of Syria’s crisis to outside forces [5], Iran has expressed its readiness to mount an armed resistance against foreign military forces in Syria [6]. Regardless of who perpetrated the recent killings in Qubayr and Houla, the profoundly disturbing images of lifeless children begs the question, has the Syrian crisis reached a point of incorrigibility? 
Western media has largely relied on unconfirmed opposition accounts crediting the Shabiha, pro-government Alawite militias with carrying out massacres across Syria as a result of the Assad government “brainwashing the militia into believing the Sunni majority was their enemy,” as reported by The Telegraph [7]. Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has recently reported that anti-Assad Sunni militants carried out the massacre in Houla, targeting pro-government Alawi and Shia minorities, “Those killed were almost exclusively from families belonging to Houla’s Alawi and Shia minorities. Over 90% of Houla’s population is Sunni. Several dozen members of a family were slaughtered, which had converted from Sunni to Shia Islam. Members of the Shomaliya, an Alawi family, were also killed, as was the family of a Sunni member of the Syrian parliament who is regarded as a collaborator. Immediately following the massacre, the perpetrators are supposed to have filmed their victims and then presented them as Sunni victims in videos posted on the internet” [8]. 
Human Rights Watch has also released a report entitled “Syria: Armed Opposition Groups Committing Abuses,” documenting the outstanding cases of violence exercised by the Syrian opposition, who have been accused of kidnapping, detaining, torturing and executing of members of the Syrian military and civilian government supporters [9]. HRW reports that attacks by opposition groups are conducted largely on sectarian grounds, motivated by anti-Shia and anti-Alawite sentiments, citing abuses committed by militant Salafist groups and members of the opposition Free Syrian Army. Although UN observers admit they are unable to determine the perpetrators of the recent massacre in Qubayr with no firm evidence to inculpate the Syrian government, UN chief Ban Ki-moon has declared that the Assad government has lost its legitimacy [10], channeling calls by President Barak Obama, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and British Prime Minister David Cameron for Assad to step down [11]. 
Continue reading, including several solutions based on evenly enforcing a UN peace plan, here at Readers may also be interested in a very similar plan put forward by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov found on RT here.