31 Jan 2012

UN moves on Syria as tanks pound Homs

With Russia resisting moves at the UN to force President Assad to stand down, Jonathan Miller describes the emergence in Syria of citizen reporters determined to show the world what is happening.

On the day declared Day of Anger and Mourning, after more than 100 killed yesterday, a 22-year-old British Syrian activist called Danny Abdul Dayeem has a handycam and braves sniper fire to show the world what is happening in his home town of Homs.

In the absence of foreign TV crews, a number of self-styled citizen-reporters like Danny have emerged.

These have been the bloodiest days of Syria’s 11-month-long revolt. Unverified video shows tanks pounding Homs.

The Free Syrian Army hits back, but the tanks keep on trundling into Hama and Idlib and the suburbs of Damascus.

Paralysed by Russian threat

It is 10 months since the UN security council authorised “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Libya.

Not a hope of that with Syria, though. The security council is paralysed by the threat of another Russian veto.

Tonight the Arab League, which is behind the latest draft resolution, wants the crackdown to stop and President Bashar al-Assad gone.

But Russia does not. It has branded the draft resolution a path to civil war. And while foreign ministers from other world powers head to the UN in New York, Russia’s Sergei Lavrov has turned up in Australia.

No ‘Plan B’

The Kremlin’s approach to the situation in Syria has been to deploy an aircraft carrier to its sole Middle East ally this month, and then sell them more guns.

Over in Moscow, the Syrian ambassador has done the rounds on Russian TV, lambasting foreign plots, lies, fabrications, conspiracies and blaming his government’s woes on a small number of terrorists.

At the United Nations in New York, meanwhile, the British, the French and Americans are backing the Arab League draft resolution to the hilt, largely because there is no Plan B.

Syria’s exiled opposition says it deplores the world’s lack of swift action, and the growing exasperation of the US and Europe is clear.

It is pretty obvious that no action at the UN will mean more violence and more dead and injured civilians – as documented by opposition activist Danny Abdul Dayeem in Homs.