An astute editorial in the Washington Post Saturday reminded readers that “it’s been more than six months since President Obama called for the end of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Yet as Mr. Assad’s forces escalated their assaults on Syrian cities last week, inflicting scores of deaths every day, his rule appeared far from finished. On the contrary, there seems every chance that the dictator could go on slaughtering Syrians for months or even years — and maybe prevail.”
Indeed, Syrian troops have resumed heavy shelling of the city of Homs, a day after the UN General Assembly called for an end to violence. One opposition group said the bombardment was the heaviest since troops launched attacks on anti-government strongholds 13 days ago.
“The shelling is continuous. They are using rockets and mortars, which are falling on people’s houses,” Homs resident Abu Abdah told the BBC. “The damage is so huge, and the city has been isolated.”
But one man’s brutal murder of civilians is another man’s effort to reform and stabilize a country rocked by 11 months of internal fighting. According to the Syrian DayPress agency, a senior Chinese envoy held talks Saturday with officials in Damascus, in what Beijing says is an attempt to mediate in the crisis as the bloodshed continues.
After meeting President Bashar al-Assad, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun called for an immediate end to the violence by all sides in the 11-month-old conflict.
“China supports the reform process being carried out in Syria and the important steps taken in this regard,” the official Syrian News Agency quoted Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun as saying after talks in Damascus.
The Lebanese Naharnet reports that the Hizbullah leadership in southern Lebanon and top members of Amal in Jabal Amel also expressed support for President Assad’s “reform efforts” on Saturday, which they said aim at consolidating the country against foreign plots.
Following a meeting held at Hizbullah’s offices in Tyre, the two parties said in a statement that the attempts to target Syria’s stability and the unity of its people and army are aimed at hindering its support for the Palestinian people and their right to liberate their land.
They added that the Assad regime is also being targeted for its support of Lebanon, its people, and resistance against the Israeli occupation.
“We back the reformist approach of President Bashar Assad that is aimed at consolidating Syria against internal strife and foreign plots,” the statement said.
The Chinese state news agency Xinhua highlighted Zhai’s comments that China was “deeply concerned by the escalating crisis and wanted the government and various political factions in the country to end all acts of violence against civilians.”
The Syrian report quoted him as saying: “The Chinese experience shows a nation cannot develop without stability.”
Yelena Suponina of the Russian news & information agency RIA Novosti wrote last week that “although armed action in Syria is not yet an item on the agenda,” the UN member nations support of the rebels in Syria “is very reminiscent of a similar group in Libya. Several dozen countries joined the Friends of Libya last year and resolutely backed the efforts of the Libyan opposition to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi.
“Of course, there are some nuances. In Libya, bombings started almost instantly, whereas in Syria, Arab observers have made an attempt to stop the conflict. Now a proposal has been made to send UN international inspectors to Syria.”
Suponina writes that Russia has been critical of this idea but obviously unable to oppose it. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov demanded “explanations” about a forthcoming meeting in Tunisia, February 24, especially an answer to the question: who are Syria’s friends? He asked similar questions in connection with events in Libya last year.