Against a backdrop of intensifying conflict in Syria, Russia and China officially endorsed former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan’s peace plan last week. Annan has been appointed by both the United Nations and the Arab League to the office of special envoy to Syria. Annan had been tasked with helping to draft a plan for the resolution of hostilities between the government and opposition forces.
This move comes after nearly a year of opposition to foreign intervention against the Middle Eastern regime by both Russia and China. Immediately after his re-election earlier this month, Vladimir Putin’s office released an official statement that it would not compromise its support for Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s regime.
While Russia did endorse the measure demanding Assad implement the demands of the Annan Plan, some alterations were required. The alterations that Russia requested reduced the UN’s recourse against Assad.
The new resolution suggests only that the UN will take “further steps” should Assad ignore international consensus. Some had called for a more specific threat in the wording of the document.
In a surprising turn, NGO Human Rights Watch, which has thus far concentrated on injustices perpetrated by government forces, has published a report accusing armed opposition groups of numerous human rights violations ranging from forced confessions to arbitrary detention and murder.
HWO called on opposition leaders to demand an end to human rights violations by their followers: “the Syrian government’s brutal tactics cannot justify abuses by armed opposition groups. Opposition leaders should make it clear to their followers that they must not torture, kidnap, or execute under any circumstances.”
This week, members of Syrian opposition gained access to the private emails of the Assad Regime’s inner circle. They leaked more than 3,000 to the British newspaper The Guardian, which has published a series of stories about new insights the private communications reveal about the rulers of Syria and their associates.
The emails indicated that American educated Hadeel al-Ali has become one of Assad’s key advisers, tipping him off about the presence of a slight opposition and a group of international journalists in the district of Homs. Shortly after, the district was bombarded with heavy shelling, to the revulsion of the international community.
American military leaders are continuing to engage in open talks about intervention in the Syrian crisis. Many are strongly in favour of providing arms and support to opposition fighting within Syria’s boarders. It is unclear whether reports of severe human rights violations by opposition groups are influencing such talks.
On an official visit to Damascus two weeks ago, Kofi Annan openly criticized the suggestion of military intervention in Syria. Annan has warned the international community that the country is already on the verge of a civil war that could have devastating consequences for the entire region.
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