By Michael Weiss
Those who naively cling to the idea that a “peaceful” or “negotiated” transition is possible in Syria need only consider one of the points made by the late Marie Colvin in one of her last dispatches from Homs. (It’s a testament to the quality of war correspondence that her footnotes could be other people’s headlines.) Explaining that this besieged city had run out of Free Syrian Army targets to hit, Colvin told the BBC a day before she was killed that civilians were effectively trapped in an area being pounded with heavy artillery and rockets.
The International Red Cross has been trying for days to broker a ceasefire with the regime to allow badly needed humanitarian aid into Homs. So far, their efforts have come to nothing. What this means is that any pretence that Bashar al-Assad is trying to suppress an armed uprising now stands exposed as little more than the conceit of those too soft-hearted to accept the existence of true evil. He is terrorising for the sake of terrorising.
I’ve been arguing for months that another Balkans crisis, if not another Rwanda, was unfolding in Syria in slow motion. The sceptical response to this notion took several forms. Surely Assad wouldn’t dare commit mass atrocities – “another Hama” – broadcast on international news networks? Surely Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have altered the scope for Arab Spring repressions? But as Nick Cohen showed in You Can’t Read This Book, the internet hasn’t changed the nature of totalitarian dictatorship, which always seems to adapt its methods of repression just as quickly as new freedoms are discovered.
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