On Saturday afternoon, as I was following the outcome of the international meeting in Geneva, the video came in from the Damascus suburb of Zamalka. As I watched the 108 seconds, all assessment of the rhetoric and diplomacy from Switzerland was pushed aside; instead, I had to hold myself together to make it to the end of the clip while considering whether or not to post the footage on EA.
The images were of bodies in the street, blown and shredded by the force of a large explosion. The first casualty was bearable enough --- if death is bearable --- but then there was a second, third, and fourth, each one in a bloodier and more agonised state.
In the end, I counted almost a dozen bodies and concluded that a link to the video would have to do --- I could not bring myself to put the carnage directly on EA.
At least 20 people, according to activists, died in the funeral procession in Zamalka, hit by a mortar, a shell, or a car bomb. However, with one notable exception --- a place in the new "Watching Syria" project of The New York Times --- it gives way to the staid, safe headline, "World Powers Agree to Syria Transition Plan".
But here's an irony: if you dig a little, even that headline is far from safe. The supposed agreement at Geneva was merely one of the platitudes that violence should end and something should be done for a political resolution.
That "something" was a watered-down version of United Nations envoy Kofi Annan's proposal for a transitional national unity government, including elements of both the regime and the opposition. The US and European allies wanted the condition that President Assad would not be part of the transition; Russia insisted that this could not be imposed. So, in the end, the powers agreed to nothing on that important matter.
Instead, the Foreign Ministers resumed their fencing within hours of the meeting. Russia's Sergei Lavrov drew a line against international intervention, while America's Hillary Clinton argued for precisely that, talking of a United Nations Chapter 7 resolution for sanctions and/or military action.
Of course, Clinton's declaration was only a pose. She knows that Russia and probably China would veto any such resolution in the Security Council. Instead, she was offering a public signal for a private initiative. Behind the facade of Geneva and Annan proposals, the US will be discussing and possibly acting with Turkey, European partners, and some Arab states (including Saudi Arabia, who was excluded from the Geneva meeting with Iran) to increase financial and logistical support to the insurgency. That support will include better and more powerful weapons.
Meanwhile, there may or may not be more shows like Geneva. There will almost certainly be more Zamalka.