"Rape is being used to deliberately punish people...This is a war where women and children are the biggest casualty."The Russians would have objected to French support for the American Revolution.
-- Justin Forsyth, Chief Executive, Save the Children, on condition is Syria
"Changing Assad’s calculations rather than overthrowing him is Washington’s policy, according to Secretary of State Kerry."
-- Barak Barfi, Research Fellow, New America Foundation, noting US won't arm opposition
"International law does not permit the supply of arms to non-governmental actors...it is a violation of international law."
-- FM Sergei Lavrov, while Russia continues to supply Syria with cluster bombs and ballistic missiles to use on its own people.
This is how the international law is being written on what a state can legally do to suppress its own people, and it is being written in Syria today. The answer is that it can do just about anything.
That is to say, anything short of using WMD on them, if the Obama prohibition actually has any teeth to it, which I doubt.
Obama's word is likely to be tested soon, because beyond all the talk of "stalemate", Assad's position is folding in on him fast and he is turning to more lethal methods. Scuds are only the latest.
Nevertheless, he is losing. Just today, we've received word of a whole new crop of high level defections and the loss of more military bases.
Assad has been allowed to use both artillery and air power, without practical limits, on civilian targets because they are his civilian targets. The result is 75,000 dead, a million Syrians have fled their country and another 3 million have fled their home towns.
It does not surprise me that the world's governments haven't put a halt to the use of such power. Do they reserve it for themselves?
However, I find it very sad that so many people tolerate it and I think silence is entirely unacceptable for those that make any claim on leadership, especially from the Left.
Since none of the so-called world powers have had an interest in putting an end to it, it is now moving into a third horrific year. The macabre logic of what we are sold as "International Law" works like this:
1) Non-interference in the internal affairs of a member state is a basic principle, i.e. you don't question what Big Daddy does with his own family.
2) It is entirely legal to provide any state with any weapons, provided no specific prohibits have been put in place by the unanimous consent of the five UNSC members who makes the most weapons. What they do with them inside of their own borders is their business.
3) It is entirely illegal to provide weapons to any grouping of the people organized for self-defense against their government.
To put it in a family way, only Big Daddy can have a gun and nobody's going to stop him from killing the whole family if that's what he decides to do. Of course, they may always try him in the Hague later.
This is the "International Law" that is being written today about what a state actor can get away with doing to its own people. It is being written in a rather timid way with Obama's "kill list" and it is being written in big red letters by Assad's "war on terrorists" policies.
It should surprise no one that these state actors are striving to create a world where people have no effective right of self-defense against their government, and no intervention is possible if one of the Big Five objects, but it should, at a minimum, cause all of us great concern.
The US Declaration of Independence is a revolutionary document, and as such, it notes that sometimes "regime change" is in order:
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.The Assad Regime is a government that, without a doubt, deserves to be abolished. It clearly is not attempting to provide either Safety or Happiness to its people.
Today's world governments, with the US playing "good cop" to Russia's "bad cop", are presently trying to throttle that right in Syria and show all the world what can happen to any people who try to abolish their government in the future.
Now on to the headlines:
From Reuters we have this report from Save the Children:
UNICEF also issued a report on what is happening to the children of Syria.:
Syria's children shot at, tortured, raped: charity report
By Oliver Holmes
BEIRUT | Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:38am EDT
A boy of 12 sees his best friend shot through the heart. Another of 15 is held in a cell with 150 other people, and taken out every day to be put in a giant wheel and burnt with cigarettes.
Syria's children are perhaps the greatest victims of their country's conflict, suffering "layers and layers of emotional trauma", Save the Children's chief executive told Reuters.
Syrian children have been shot at, tortured and raped during two years of unrest and civil war, the London-based international charity said in a report released on Wednesday.
Two million children, it said, face malnutrition, disease, early marriage and severe trauma, becoming innocent victims of a bloody conflict that has already claimed 70,000 lives.
"This is a war where women and children are the biggest casualty," chief executive Justin Forsyth told Reuters during a visit to Lebanon, where 340,000 Syrians have fled.
Forsyth said he met a Syrian refugee boy, 12, who saw his best friend killed outside a bakery. "His friend was shot through the heart. But initially, he thought he was joking because there was no blood. They didn't realize he had been killed until they took his shirt off," he said.
The Save the Children report cited new research carried out among refugee children by Bahcesehir University in Turkey which found that one in three reported having been punched, kicked or shot at.
It said two thirds of children surveyed said that they had been separated from members of their families due to the conflict and a third said they had experienced the death of a close friend or family member. More...
This writer for Syria Deeply thinks that the aid now being promised by Kerry is a joke. He also thinks Obama's so-called shift on Syria is more show than go:
A generation of Syrian children at risk as conflict enters third year - UNICEF
NEW YORK (March 12, 2013) – The unrelenting violence, massive population displacement, and damage to infrastructure and essential services caused by the Syrian conflict risk leaving an entire generation of children scarred for life, according to a UNICEF report issued today.
“As millions of children inside Syria and across the region witness their past and their futures disappear amidst the rubble and destruction of this prolonged conflict, the risk of them becoming a lost generation grows every day,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.
The report – marking the two-year point in the Syria crisis -- says that in areas where the fighting is most intense access to water has fallen by two-thirds resulting in increased skin and respiratory diseases, while one in five schools has been destroyed, damaged, or is being used to shelter displaced families. In Aleppo, for example, only 6 percent of children are currently attending school. Classes that still function are sometimes crammed with as many as 100 children.
Hospitals and health centers have been wrecked and their skilled staff has fled.
Meanwhile children are suffering the trauma of seeing family members and friends killed, while being terrified by the sounds and scenes of conflict. More...
Why the U.S.’s Syria Aid Package is Too Little, Too Late
March 12, 2013
New Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement that the United States will provide aid to the rebel-led Free Syrian Army heralds Washington’s official entrance into a conflict that has already cost more than 60,000 lives. For more than a year, the administration’s critics have castigated its refusal to arm the organization or provide anything more than what they say amounts to sideline cheering for an opposition bent on toppling President Bashar al-Assad.
Yet for all its pomp, Kerry’s decision does little to change this position. And Washington’s largesse might be a case of ‘too little, too late’ to affect the outcome on a battlefield increasingly dominated by jihadists whose ideology stands for everything Western values oppose.
Washington has billed its $60 million aid promise as non-lethal assistance to the FSA. But according to a senior State Department official who explained the support package in a background briefing, part of the money will go to the National Coalition, the rebels’ political umbrella organization, whose chief role is to interface with Western nations.
Aid earmarked for the FSA will not do much to shift the fight in its favor. Washington is only offering the organization military rations and medical supplies, items Syrian activists can procure without the help of the world’s only superpower.
Washington’s aid is bound to disappoint FSA leaders who were hoping for a significant arms package. Their chief dilemma is the regime’s supremacy in air combat. By controlling the skies, Assad can re-supply isolated bases in provinces such as Aleppo and Idlib that are essentially islands in a sea of rebel-held territory. Providing the FSA with surface to air missiles (SAMs) would allow them to bring down the regime fighter jets and helicopters that bombard them daily. This would change the government’s calculations, forcing it to relinquish a number of these remote bases and thus accelerating the FSA’s advances.
Changing Assad’s calculations rather than overthrowing him is Washington’s policy, according to Secretary of State Kerry. In several interviews this week he has said that the purpose of the new American aid is to persuade Assad to negotiate a settlement to the conflict. More...
Save the Children is calling for worldwide vigils for Syria on Friday:
Candlelight vigil for Syria in CairoBasil El-Dabh
March 13, 2013
Egyptians will participate in a global candlelight vigil on Thursday demanding a peaceful resolution to ongoing mass bloodshed in Syria, two years after the conflict erupted.
The initiative was created by children’s charity Save the Children with support from Oxfam. Egypt is one of 20 countries set to participate in the vigil, and the group has designated Mostafa Mahmoud Square in Mohandessin as the site at which people will gather at 5 pm on Thursday night with candles.
The group intends to utilise software called Thunderclap to store tweets from participants and release them simultaneously with other tweets calling for an end to bloodshed in Syria across time zones in an effort to spread awareness about the cause.
Global Vigil for Syria
For two years Syria's children have endured appalling suffering. Young lives torn apart, bereaved, brutalised, tormented, lost.
On 14 March 2013 we're mobilising people around the world to highlight the terrible plight of Syria’s children.
We're also urging the world's five most powerful leaders to unite, put aside their differences, and help bring a peaceful end to the suffering in Syria.
We need you to play your part.