Monday, September 3, 2012

Syria in flames

 Systematic destruction of Syria by Assad                   (c) Al Jazeera

Click here for related story [Times of Malta]

The situation in Syria is heinous, and demands remedy.

 Barry, you really ARE a Pole Turtle!    (c) Telegraph
We don't believe the situation should serve as another opportunity for Mr Obama to try to demonstrate his military  prowess, as in his liberation of Libya's oil fields for NATO exploitation.  He is beginning to grasp the complexity of international affairs [even more challenging than Southside Chicago community organizing] as he discovers that Russia's Mr Putin has an interest in keeping Assad in power.

A review of the situation in Libya today reveals a raging civil war as a variety of groups slaughter each other as well as innocent by-standers while seeking to control the country.

You can't see me now!
(c) This&that

As we recall, the UN mission includes addressing situations like those we see in Syria.  They've done so in Africa, Eastern Europe, and other parts of the Middle East [e.g., Lebanon].  In Syria, they've assumed an "observer" status, which seems to translate to:

"We're here to hide and watch the citizens get slaughtered by the government" a position they took in Bosnia and Somalia. 

UN Special Envoy Kofe Annan resigned last week in protest over the UN's inability to function effectively, stating that "when the Syrian people desperately needed action, there continues to be finger pointing and name-calling in the Security Council."

I have no idea what I'm doing!
UN Humanitarian official Radhouane Nouicer wrings his hands and advises us "... there are people who are suffering and who are not having their needs met.  Areas which used to be safe have become part of the war zone.  We are estimating the number of internally displaced people to be 1.2 million.  I would highlight the lack of medicl services, hygiene, water and sanitation, basic shelter and basic household items."


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He criticizes Turkey for accepting only 100,000 refugees, noting that Syria "hosted more than a million Iraqis and 500,000 Palestinians.  He fails to note though, that the Iraqi and Palestinian refugees arrived over a period of years, vs the flood of Syrian refugees fleeing the war over a period of months.

The World Food Program quotes 850,000 beneficiaries and hope to reach 1.5 million in September; we're not sure though where they are reaching these people.

The UN complains that there are insufficient funds committed by donor countries, and that the number of donor countries needs to be expanded.

Going first class on donors' dime                   (c) PlanetForward
Skeptical donor countries, cognizant of the affluent lifestyle of the UN hierarchy, to include limousines, five star hotels, bulging expense accounts, and entourages to cater to the every whim of UN executives, are demanding assurances that the UN could deliver effectively and with accountability. 

Nouicer counters with:  "We have provided enough evidence that there is 'a possibility' to deliver."
Not the encouraging words donor countries are looking for.

Of course, the question remains
"With the UN's multi-billion dollar budget, how much does it need from donor countries to deliver the relief effort with which it is charged?"

Is there something wrong with this picture?

We had hoped that Turkey, as a NATO stalwart, might force the issue with its fellow members.  As it is, it has accepted more than 100,000 Syrian refugees, but is running out of room and resources to accommodate them, particularly as it expects another 100,000 will soon arrive at the border.  It appears the UN is not much help.

Assad last week ruled out Turkey's call for Syria to set up "humanitarian buffer zones" within Syria to protect refugees; he advised that the internal situation is "better", but he needs time to "win the battle against 'terrorists'".

One encouraging note:

France's last major defeat! (c) Reuters
Newly elected French President Francois Hollande announced that France and its [unnamed] international partners were nearing a formal intervention. 

We cheer Mr Hollande on, but recall that France's last intervention in the international scene was at Dien Bien Phu, an historic lesson in French military and national leadership -- or lack thereof.