Tuesday 24 October 2017

Syrian army, government appear to be out of control

THE WORLD is a poorer place with the tragic deaths of journalists Marie Colvin and photographer Remi Ochlik, killed in a barrage of rockets that appear to have been deliberately fired at a group of reporters and photographers in a makeshift Press centre in the besieged Syrian city of Homs.

Given the relentless pressure of the onslaught against those fighting the regime of President Bashar al Assad and the thousands of civilians struggling to survive in cities under fire by Syrian government forces, it is perhaps not surprising that journalists should suffer the same fate as those whose lives and deaths they have been chronicling for the past terrible weeks and months.

But that doesn't lessen the shock when something like this happens - what makes this all the more tragic is that their killing does not appear to be a random act, but the act of a military and a government that appears to be out of control.

We're not talking about a criminal fraternity or some breakaway sect in a God-forsaken corner of the world, but the well-armed apparatus of a state that will do anything to cling on to power. Shelling civilians is murder. Despite entreaties from much of the world for them to cease their attacks on civilians, the view from those in control in Damascus is clearly that power comes from the barrel of a gun.

In response, some Arab countries are hawkish in their views about finding a solution. The Saudi Foreign Minister for example endorsed arming the rebels, but whether this will translate in to action on the ground remains to be seen.

The problem for the world is that Syria is not Libya and despite the uprising against him Assad still has wide support in many towns and cities.

The other problem for the world is that the U.N. Security Council is divided on what action to take, with the Syrian regime emboldened by the positions of the Russians and the Chinese whose ' hands off ' stance has weakened any action being considered to compel Assad to silence the guns.

In the short term, the establishment of humanitarian corridors would appear to be the best way to move forward and the best way of providing some succour to those areas of in Syrian cities which are under fire. But such a move is not without risk and it would need some level of cooperation from the Syrian military.

But if nothing is done, the killing will continue and the world will continue to wring its hands and turn its back.

How much more horror will have to be visited on the people of Syria before something is done?

How many more innocent people will have to die before the world acts?