Classifieds powered by Gulf News

Nations expel Syrian envoys

Al Houla massacre prompts action as Annan tells Al Assad to take bold steps

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad (right) with UN Arab special envoy Kofi Annan in Damascus
Image Credit: AP
Syrian President Bashar Al Assad (right) with UN Arab special envoy Kofi Annan in Damascus yesterday. Several countries around the world yesterday expelled Syrian envoys over Friday’s massacre.
01 Gulf News

Dubai: The US followed western allies on Tuesday in announcing the expulsion of top Syrian diplomats as United Nations envoy Kofi Annan told President Bashar Al Assad that "bold steps" were required for his six-point peace plan to succeed, including a halt to violence and release of people arrested in the uprising.

The US gave Charge d'Affairs Zouheir Jabbour 72 hours to leave the country, according to an emailed statement by State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. Hours earlier, Australia, France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Spain and Canada also said Syrian diplomats were being told to leave.

"We hold the Syrian government responsible for this slaughter of innocent lives," Nuland said, referring to the killings in Al Houla. "This massacre is the most unambiguous indictment to date of the Syrian government's flagrant violations of its Security Council obligations."

Her comments paralleled those from officials in European capitals.

"The Syrian regime bears responsibility for the horrific events in Al Houla," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in an emailed statement yesterday. "Whoever deploys heavy weaponry against its own people in Syria and anywhere else in violation of Security Council resolutions must face serious diplomatic and political consequences."

UN condemnation

The US and its allies had considered a similar move earlier this year, putting it aside when Al Assad's regime agreed in April to a ceasefire brokered by Annan. Since then, Al Assad has failed to comply with Annan's six-point peace plan backed by the UN Security Council, as his regime has continued assaults against civilian areas in an effort to crush opposition.

The Security Council condemned the killings on May 27. Preliminary information shows that 49 children and 34 women were killed in Syria's Al Houla region during an "appalling massacre" that began on May 26 and continued through the weekend, Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said.

Fewer than 20 of the 108 confirmed killings can be attributed to artillery and tank fire, he told journalists in Geneva yesterday.

Entire families were shot in their homes, he said, adding that the information came from local witnesses and survivors.

"After the events of this past weekend the violence is getting more out of control," Theodore Karasik, director of research at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, said in a phone interview. Expelling Al Assad's diplomats shows that "diplomacy has reached its end".

"Cutting diplomatic relations and imposing strict economic sanctions on the regime are a basic part of the political actions required to respond to the horrific massacres the criminal regime is committing," the Syrian National Council said in a statement on Facebook.




Latest Comment

It looks like Syrian regime is least bothered about these killings and no doubt that this will continue. But how long this can go on like this. I am feeling ashamed to write about this, time and again. The whole world is condemning the killings. Is that enough? We all know that there are countries which can stop these atrocities within no time but they are also divided. So what is the solution? Khofi Anan had made a 6 point peace plan which didn’t work. Syria is facing stiff economic sanctions and on top of it so many countries have already cut their diplomatic relations. Can these actions lead to a permanent solution? How can a person kill his own people in an effort to crush the opposition? That means he is selfish and he has no right to hang on to power. If he is genuine then he should seek a diplomatic solution. Being at the helm it is his responsibility to look after his fellow countrymen. At the same time opposition also have the same responsibility. They cannot provoke Assad to act heartlessly. When there are countries like US and its allies to support the anti-regime people they have to show some respite and take the full advantage of the situation. I think the opposition also should act wisely to put an end to this carnage. Russia and China can also play an important role to end the sufferings of the people in Syria. There is still an opportunity by way of UN envoy; hope Al Assad and the opposition will grab that opportunity to make Syria a better place

Shivshankar K.T.

30 May 2012 17:21jump to comments