Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV

Or, click to learn more



Syria Today: US and Britain Play for Time

2110 GMT: Islamist Faction Executes Pro-Regime Militia in Raqqa

Graphic video posted on YouTube today shows the execution of three men, claimed to be pro-regime militia, in the main square of the city of Raqqa.

Before the execution, a man reads out a statement declaring the execution to be in response to the mass killing of residents of the coastal town of al-Bayada, near Baniyas, earlier this month.

The man signs off the statement with a reference to the "Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham".

The identity of the faction is unclear as is any affiliation with large Islamist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra, which has been prominent in the takeover of Raqqa.

Residents of Raqqa have rallied tonight in protest against the executions.

0906 GMT:Government’s “Cautious Optimism” US-Russia Talks

Discussing the meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Information Minister, Omran al-Zoubi, said yesterday "The Syrian government expressed optimism but it is a cautious optimism since words are not enough, but rather there should be subsequent steps.”

He added "We are in need to know whether the Russian-US understanding is as important as the political solution and its necessity as a choice that applies to everyone and whether it is really a sole choice for the Americans and their allies in secret and in public."

0857 GMT:Government Propaganda Line

State media has put out the line that it is reasserting its control in the ring of Damascus suburbs and the surrounding countryside “After restoring stability and security to al-Otaybah, Qayssa and al-Ghreifeh towns in Eastern Ghouta.”

The government also claimed to have “devastated terrorists' dens” in a number of villages in Daar’a province, 110km south of Damascus close to the border with Jordan, as well as inflicting losses upon the rebels in the countryside around Homs and Idlib.

0620 GMT: Casualties

The Violations Documentation Center puts the confirmed death toll at 60,292 since the conflict begin in March 2011, an increase of 84 from Monday. Of those killed, 47,183 were civilians, a rise of 46 from yesterday.

0520 GMT: President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron Discuss Syria

After with British Prime Minister David Cameron after their meeting in the White House on Monday,  President Obama said they agreed "to increase pressure on the Assad regime, to provide humanitarian aid, ... to strengthen the moderate opposition and to prepare for a democratic Syria without Bashar al-Assad."

That anodyne checklist, which offered little of substance beyond Cameron's declaration that Britain will double its "non-lethal" aid to the Syrian insurgency, covered a difficult reality.

Washington and London, after a week of political manoeuvres involving Russia and months of deliberations on the relationship with the insurgency, are caught up in indecision over their next steps.

On the military front, the US and Britain are providing not only limited non-lethal but also covert lethal aid to Syrian fighters; however, they are uncertain if they can or want to take this farther. Options like a no-fly zone, open supplies of weapons, and an increase in assistance with the objective of overthrowing Assad are being discussed without resolution --- now or, it appears, in the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, the political approach to Moscow --- with visits by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Cameron to Russian leader Vladimir Putin --- does not seem to have brought results.

The US and Britain may have been looking at a shift in strategy from backing of the military insurgency to negotiations between the regime and some version of the opposition. They may have been trying to pry away Russia from its support of Assad in power, both through politics and through military assistance. They may have been trying to do both.

The point is that Moscow has offered no indication that it needs to revise its position.

So Obama and Cameron did a photo opportunity yesterday and left the question:

What next?

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

« Iran Today: Age, "Sedition", & the Presidential Election | Main | Syria Today: Another Week of Stalemate? »

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>