— The Erimtan Angle —

While the United Nations and the U.S. seem to be getting ready to bring in the big guns, the Assad regime reveals its own big guns, as reported by Iran’s Press TV on Thursday, 7 June: ‘Syria has reportedly given anti-government militants 24 hours to turn in their weapons, warning of a military offensive against the foreign-backed armed gangs after the deadline expires, Press TV reports. An informed source, speaking on condition of anonymity, noted on Thursday [, 7 June] that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has informed the UN-Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan, of the warning in a letter. Reports say about 280 UN observers are currently in Syria to monitor the implementation of cease-fire, which is part of a six-point peace plan presented by Kofi Annan in March. The letter has made it clear that a military offensive against militants will follow the 24-hour deadline. The UN has given no response to the letter yet. Violence is still raging in Syria, where many people, including large numbers of security forces, have been killed over the past year. The West and the Syrian opposition accuse the government of the killings. Damascus, however, blames ”outlaws, saboteurs and armed terrorist groups” for the unrest, stating that the violence is being orchestrated from abroad’.[1]

The BBC reports from Qubayr: ‘UN monitors have reached a village in Syria’s Hamaprovince where a massacre took place on Wednesday, says the BBC’s Paul Danahar who has been travelling with the team. The observers, who were fired at near Qubair village on Thursday, arrived in a convoy from Damascus. Paul Danahar says the team is now checking the safety situation before the rest of the observers enter the village. He described the scene as “an idyllic spot, if it wasn’t for the misery that we are told awaits us at the bottom of the hill”’.[2]  It strikes me as weird indeed that the BBC has as yet not posted an update of this report, instead Danahar’s conjectures remain . . . “the misery that we are told awaits us at the bottom of the hill”. But so far, nobody seems to know for sure . . .

United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon has now issued a serious statement: “Syriacan quickly go from a tipping point to a breaking point. The danger of full-scale civil war is imminent and real, with catastrophic consequences for Syriaand the region”.[3]  And then there are Russia and China. The first has historical ties with Syria, stretching back to Soviet times, and the latter is happy client of Iran’s oil, while Iran appears to be Assad’s only ally in the region. The news agency Reuters’ Steve Gutterman reports that the “United States stepped up pressure on Russia to support a Syrian power transfer that would include President Bashar al-Assad’s exit after the second reported massacre in weeks deepened doubts Kofi Annan’s U.N.-backed peace plan can work. A senior U.S. State Department official, Fred Hof, held talks on Friday [. 8 June] with Russian Deputy Foreign Ministers Gennady Gatilov and Mikhail Bogdanov, the Foreign Ministry said. Hof made no comment to reporters outside the ministry building. U.S. officials have suggested Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent Hof to Moscow as part of an effort secure a transition strategy that the United States says must include Assad’s full transfer of power”.[4]  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared on Thursday, 7 June, that “We continue to speak out decisively in support of Syria’s sovereignty, and against foreign intervention in its affairs and attempts to force parameters of an internal Syrian solution upon it from outside”.[5]

[1] “Syria to militants: Lay down arms or face military offensive” Press TV (08 June 2012). http://www.presstv.ir/detail/245014.html..

[2] “BBC journalist reaches Qubair, Syria” BBC News (08 June 2012). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-18368081.

[3] “UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon Raises Pressure On Syria” The Huffington Post (08 June 2012). http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/06/08/syria-un-secretary-general-warns-of-full-scale-civil-war_n_1579874.html?1339137591&ref=uk.

[4] Steve Gutterman, “U.S. official meets Russians on Syria” Reuters (08 June 2012). http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/08/us-syria-crisis-russia-idUSBRE8570L320120608.

[5] Steve Gutterman, “U.S. official meets Russians onSyria”.


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