Isolationism

Punishing Israel

In light of recent events an adage needs updating:

Benjamin Netanyahu never seems to miss an opportunity, to miss an opportunity.

I am not the only one annoyed at Netanyahu’s maladroitness.

Two astute Middle East analysts, Meir Javedanfar and Hussein Ibish have noticed the issue, how Netanyahu has succeeded in isolating Israel and himself from potential allies by his own clumsy actions.

Ibish remarked on the UN vote:

Israelis must ask themselves how they lost their “quality minority” and why so many European and Western states that have been historically supportive of them or neutral moved rather dramatically today in the Palestinian direction. The war between Israel and Hamas shows that the situation on the ground is fundamentally unstable and untenable. The dramatic shift in the diplomatic landscape at the U.N. today demonstrates that the international community understands that and is losing patience.

Javedanfar puts his finger on it:

“The Iranian regime was hoping that the recent Gaza conflict between Israel and Gaza based militants would create a diplomatic crisis for Israel.

Unfortunately for the regime, this did not happen.

Ayatollah Khamenei must have been very disappointed to see that his regime’s military support for Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist groups did not lead to an Israeli military response which created a diplomatic crisis in Israel – EU and Israel – US relations.

What Iran could not achieve in Gaza, Netanyahu achieved for the Iranian regime with his latest plans for new settlement homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank: diplomatic crisis in relations between top EU countries and Israel. As Barak Ravid reported in Haaretz: “Europe threatens to withdraw support for Israel over settlement building plans”. According to the article the top 3 EU economic powerhouses Germany, UK, and France are protesting, so are the Dutch. More countries could follow.”

(more…)

Syria, No Accident

This clip from PBS News provides an insight to the diabolical attack on a refugee camp for displaced Syrians:

Syria's Cross-Border Violence May Be No Accident

What Syrian Refugees Say.

AP relates:

“The U.N. refugee agency said Monday that as many as 2,000 Syrians crossed into Lebanon over the last two days to flee the violence in their country. In the Lebanese border village of Qaa, families with women with small children came carrying only plastic bags filled with a few belongings.

“We fled the shelling and the strikes,” said Hassana Abu Firas. She came with two families who had fled government shelling of their town al-Qusair, about 14 miles (22 kilometers) away, on the Syrian side.

The town is in Homs province, where the government has been waging a brutal offensive for the past month.

“What are we supposed to do? People are sitting in their homes and they are hitting us with tanks,” Firas told The Associated Press. “Those who can flee, do. Those who can’t will die sitting down.”

Lebanese security officials say more than 10,000 Syrians are believed to be in the country. One official said as many as 3,000 are believed to have crossed in recent days because of violence in Homs, though it is unclear how many have returned to Syria.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity under government protocol.

Inside Lebanon, many Syrians fear agents from their own country’s security services. Stories have circulated of kidnappings and collaboration between Lebanese and Syrian security forces. Syria controlled Lebanon for decades and Hezbollah, the party which now dominates Lebanon’s government, is closely allied with Syria and Iran.

Turkey says it hosts more than 11,000 Syrians in camps along the border with Syria, including more than 1,000 who crossed in the last month. About 100 have entered in the last two days.

Jordan has more than 80,000 Syrian refugees, according to the government.”

The Huff Post has more news of atrocities, and still international inaction.

In Syria Residents Suffer Death and Destruction

HRW has released some striking images of the Syrian government’s shelling in Homs:

“Local sources have reported that approximately 700 civilians have been killed and thousands wounded in Homs since the Syrian military began its current assault on the city on February 3, 2012. Indiscriminate shelling and sniper fire has caused most of the casualties in Baba Amr, which is a residential area where elements of the armed opposition have sought refuge. Human Rights Watch interviewed 15 Homs residents who escaped the city in the last two weeks, as well as two foreign correspondents who spent time in Baba Amr during the military assault.

“These new satellite photos and witness accounts show the extent of the brutality unleashed on Baba Amr,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Despite the killing, Russia and China continue to block any international action.”

Human Rights Watch acquired and analyzed this commercial satellite image of the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs on February 25. A wide view of the image clearly shows the extensive damage caused by the use of surface-delivered explosive weapons in a populated area. The image reflects the damage that has occurred since previous images were taken between four and six weeks ago.”

Yossi Gurvitz on Syria

I suspect that lot of what Yossi Gurvitz says applies to attitudes in Britain and Europe:

“Last Thursday, a special UN commission on Syria found that the Assad regime is committing crimes against humanity, and that senior regime officials are participants in these crimes. The commission was significantly limited in its ability to report on events, as the regime denied it entry into Syria, and it had to rely on the testimonies of refugees. Even so, it is important to take its conclusions seriously: in several previous cases, the first testimonies about crimes against humanity came from refugees.

The refugees supply us with only a partial view, yet they indicate a terrible desolation, thousands of casualties, the systematic use of rape as a tool of terror, and prevalent torture. The number of civilians massacred by the regime in the last year is estimated in the many thousands – many more, for instance, than the number killed by the IDF during the Second Intifada. Naturally, the precise number is not known, but an opposition site that is considered reputable cites 8,791 dead; another site, which also furnishes a map of the atrocities, estimates the number of dead at 9,236. These numbers are updated to the time of writing of this post, and both of them reflect only the known dead – people identified by others. It’s very probable that there are hundreds more, unrecognized.

Read more at Opposition activists must choose: Either human rights or Assad.

Marie Colvin, Syria And Abyssinia.

Marie Colvin’s killing reminds us how brutal the Syrian regime is. How it will murder anyone that opposes it by virtue of their words or actions. Marie Colvin is a victim like thousands of dead Syrians who have died over the past year.

The murderous events in Syria should remind us how little we have learnt since Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia. It is a standard text amongst Western children on the nature of the 1930s, aggressive dictators and the failure of the West to stop them, yet it could be rewritten in terms of 21st century Syria.

Despite a year of merciless murder, the slaughter of civilians and numerous war crimes the West has done little to stop the carnage in Syria.

There has been plenty of hand wringing, a lot of coughing and arguments trotted out that would shame a 1930′s isolationist by their naiveté, repetition and cynicism.

Hugh Dixon looks at some of the issues, in How to help the Syrians.

Elsewhere, Slain journalists may have been targeted by Syrian military.

Marie Colvin’s last piece ‘We live in fear of a massacre’.

My friend, Marie Colvin.

Recalling a Last Dinner With a Journalist Killed in Syria.

Marie Colvin’s November 2010 speech on the importance of war reporting.

Journalist Marie Colvin in Homs.

Two Western Journalists Killed in Syria Shelling.

We can only hope that in 20 years from now that children are taught the lessons of not allowing dictators and murderous regimes to slaughter civilians whilst the world looks on. I am not that optimistic.