The U.N. reports Syrian death toll has surpassed 3,500

The U.N. reports Syrian death toll has surpassed 3,500 The United Nations reported over 3,500 people have died since the start of the Syrian uprisings eight months ago. Spokeswoman for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Ravina Shamdasani, blamed “the brutal crackdown on dissent” particularly condemning the siege on the ...

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547508_111108_1317213422.jpg

The U.N. reports Syrian death toll has surpassed 3,500

The United Nations reported over 3,500 people have died since the start of the Syrian uprisings eight months ago. Spokeswoman for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Ravina Shamdasani, blamed "the brutal crackdown on dissent" particularly condemning the siege on the Baba Amr district of Homs and criticized arbitrary arrests and detainment of political prisoners. Clashes have intensified between government troops and armed defectors in Homs in what the New York Times states may be one of the "most violent episodes" since the start of the uprising. Alongside Homs, violence has erupted in the country's fourth largest city of Hama where government forces have surrounded a medical complex and the Baath Party headquarters. The escalation has come a week after President Bashar al-Assad committed to an Arab League plan calling for the end of regime attacks, withdrawal of forces, and release of political prisoners. Youssef Ahmad, Syria's representative to the Arab League claimed Syria had "gone a long away" to begin implementing the plan in its release of about 500 detainees. The Arab League has called an emergency meeting for Saturday to address the continuation of the regime crackdown.

Headlines  

The U.N. reports Syrian death toll has surpassed 3,500

The United Nations reported over 3,500 people have died since the start of the Syrian uprisings eight months ago. Spokeswoman for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Ravina Shamdasani, blamed “the brutal crackdown on dissent” particularly condemning the siege on the Baba Amr district of Homs and criticized arbitrary arrests and detainment of political prisoners. Clashes have intensified between government troops and armed defectors in Homs in what the New York Times states may be one of the “most violent episodes” since the start of the uprising. Alongside Homs, violence has erupted in the country’s fourth largest city of Hama where government forces have surrounded a medical complex and the Baath Party headquarters. The escalation has come a week after President Bashar al-Assad committed to an Arab League plan calling for the end of regime attacks, withdrawal of forces, and release of political prisoners. Youssef Ahmad, Syria’s representative to the Arab League claimed Syria had “gone a long away” to begin implementing the plan in its release of about 500 detainees. The Arab League has called an emergency meeting for Saturday to address the continuation of the regime crackdown.

Headlines  

  • In remarks overheard by journalists, President Sarkozy told President Obama “I cannot bear Netanyahu, he’s a liar” discussing France’s vote in favor of Palestinian admittance to UNESCO.
  • Iran denies reports of nuclear weapons technology while President Ahmadinejad said Iran “does not need atomic bombs” to confront the United States.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court is caught in a foreign policy battle on whether to enforce a 2002 law stating a U.S. citizen born in Jerusalem can have Israel listed as his birthplace.
  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States will work with Tunisia’s Islamist party, Ennahda, in its efforts toward democracy after last month’s election victory. 

Daily Snapshot

An aerial view taken November 7, 2011 shows the Abraj Al-Bait Towers, also known as the Mecca Royal Hotel Clock Tower, in the holy city of Mecca during the annual Hajj pilgrimage rituals (FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images).

Arguments & Analysis

‘Why Obama should highlight Iran’s human rights abuses’ (Andrew Apostolou & Sarah Morgan, Foreign Affairs)

“Washington will only neutralize Iran by exploiting the regime’s main vulnerability: its false claim to legitimacy. The ayatollahs’ hold on power is inherently unstable because they have no popular mandate. Since staging a rigged election in 2009 to keep Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power, they have relied on repression and brutality to silence opposition, jailing journalists, torturing detainees, and executing critics (both real and imagined). By highlighting these crimes on the world stage and actively supporting Iran’s dissidents, the United States can place a new, more effective kind of pressure on Tehran and support the movement for democratic change from within. Focusing on human rights violations will allow the United States to expose the hypocrisy of the regime and remind Iran of its domestic troubles as it tries to expand its power and influence.” 

‘Jordan’s experiment: does top-down democratic reform work?’ (Shadi Hamid, The Atlantic)

“Since the Arab spring began, King Abdullah, to his credit, has acknowledged the demands of protesters and promised significant reforms, including granting Jordanians the right to elect a prime minister and a government. Yet, in a speech to parliament on October 26, he also said it wouldn’t happen anytime soon: “As for governments formed by political parties, this issue rests in the hands of the citizens and voters, and it is very much conditional to the ability of political parties to freely compete.” It is unclear how long that might take. Developing two or three broad-based political parties has long been the stated desire of Jordanian officials. If one goes back to newspaper archives in the mid-1990s, it is remarkable how similar some of the debates were. Back then, political parties — with the exception of the Islamic Action Front — were weak and ineffectual. Today, they are still weak and ineffectual. This brings us to a larger, more troubling question: does gradual reform even work?”

‘The lynching of Libya’ (Ian Buruma, Project Syndicate)

“This is why Qaddafi’s lynching party is a dangerous omen for Libya. It would have been far better if he had been handed over alive to be judged in a court of law. A criminal trial in Libya might have been difficult. A 42-year dictatorship does not exactly provide fertile ground for the learning and experience needed to create an impartial court. And it is probably impossible for a former dictator’s victims to judge him without prejudice. That is precisely why the International Criminal Court in The Hague was established. Putting Qaddafi on trial probably would not have satisfied every Libyan’s feeling of injustice, but it might have helped to instill in Libyans greater respect for the rule of law. Perhaps a trial of Qaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, will have this effect. If so, standing trial in The Hague would be the best service he could render to his country.”

Recent posts on the Channel

‘China’s emerging twin pillar policy in the Gulf’ by Geoffrey F. Gresh

‘Oman, kind of not quiet’ by Ra’id Zuhair al-Jamali

‘Keeping it in the family’ by Jane Kinninmont

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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