Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Remove the UN observers from Syria

Update: for more on the helicopters, here.

The situation in Syria continues to move toward a full-scale civil war, with the Assad regime, as part of its ongoing brutality, deploying helicopter gunships (now allegedly being sent by Russia) and apparently using children as human shields, while the opposition fights back with arms probably supplied by Saudi Arabia and/or other Gulf states. The pointlessness of having unarmed UN observers in this situation is becoming glaringly obvious. There is currently no ceasefire to observe, and whatever slim benefit may derive from the presence of observers is outweighed by the real possibility that the observers themselves will become targets and will be injured or killed. Moreover, keeping observers on the ground in this situation, it seems to me, not only endangers the observers themselves but plays into the hands of those who have an ideological or political interest in portraying the UN as feckless and weak. It's one thing to be unable to solve a problem; it's another to publicize and emphasize your inability to solve a problem by, in effect, standing on a rooftop and shrieking: "I am unable to solve this problem!!" That is the only message the presence of UN observers in Syria seems to be conveying right now.


hank_F_M said...


That's been obvious for a few months.

LFC said...

Yes. A v. bad situation all round.

hank_F_M said...


More on the helicopters and Russian support.

The Russian freighter carrying refurbished helicopter gunships and munitions has apparently turned back after its insurance was cancelled. The insurance company feared that the freighter might be attacked creating a risk the standard merchant ship insurance does not cover.
Rebels Get Stronger

i read elsewhere that this is more Lawfare than fear of an attack. The British government suggested to Lloyds of London that ths could lead to criminal or civil complaints since the shipment is in violation of a UN embargo.

But Russia could have been selling $20 billion worth a year were it not for the recent demise of the dictatorship in Libya (which cost Russia over $4 billion) and years of arms embargoes on Iran (over $12 billion in lost sales). Now the Syrian dictatorship is challenged by a popular revolution and Russia faces the loss of another $5 billion in arms sales.
Why Russia is Angry

Why am I so pessimistic about peace in Syria?

Hank’s Eclectic Meanderings

LFC said...

Interesting. I'm sure arms exports have something (probably a lot, in fact) to do with the Russian position, as your second link suggests.