Syrian Deaths exceed 5,000 as Russia accuses West of “immoral” stance

Syrian death toll exceeds 5,000 as Russia accuses West of “immoral” stance United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for immediate action to end violence in Syria after reporting that the number of people killed since the start of uprisings nine months ago has exceeded 5,000, including 300 children. The United Nations’ ...

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546053_111213_1356726002.jpg

Syrian death toll exceeds 5,000 as Russia accuses West of "immoral" stance

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for immediate action to end violence in Syria after reporting that the number of people killed since the start of uprisings nine months ago has exceeded 5,000, including 300 children. The United Nations' estimated death toll has increased dramatically from 4,000 in the past 10 days, due in large part to an escalation in defection and insurgency, but Pillay also addressed "alarming" events in Homs. Pillay added that 14,000 people are estimated to have been detained during the regime crackdown. She recommended that Syria be referred to the International Criminal Court saying that "Independent, credible and corroborated accounts demonstrate that these abuses have taken place as part of a widespread and systematic attack on civilians." Russia responded accusing the West of taking an "immoral" position on Syria for failing to pressure the opposition forces for their role in the violence. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the agenda of the opposition is to "provoke a humanitarian catastrophe, to get a pretext to demand external interference into this conflict." Meanwhile, fresh clashes in the northwest Idlib province have resulted in at least 26 people killed.

Syrian death toll exceeds 5,000 as Russia accuses West of “immoral” stance

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for immediate action to end violence in Syria after reporting that the number of people killed since the start of uprisings nine months ago has exceeded 5,000, including 300 children. The United Nations’ estimated death toll has increased dramatically from 4,000 in the past 10 days, due in large part to an escalation in defection and insurgency, but Pillay also addressed “alarming” events in Homs. Pillay added that 14,000 people are estimated to have been detained during the regime crackdown. She recommended that Syria be referred to the International Criminal Court saying that “Independent, credible and corroborated accounts demonstrate that these abuses have taken place as part of a widespread and systematic attack on civilians.” Russia responded accusing the West of taking an “immoral” position on Syria for failing to pressure the opposition forces for their role in the violence. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the agenda of the opposition is to “provoke a humanitarian catastrophe, to get a pretext to demand external interference into this conflict.” Meanwhile, fresh clashes in the northwest Idlib province have resulted in at least 26 people killed.

Headlines  

  • Iran has refused to return a U.S. drone after a request from President Obama and has demanded an apology for the violation of Iranian airspace.
  • Tunisia’s constituent assembly elected and installed former exiled dissident, Moncef Marzouki, as president, who while secular, is criticized as a mask for Islamist power.
  • About 50 Jewish settlers attacked an Israeli Defense Forces base over feared plans to dismantle illegal outposts after the army evacuated 20 activists from an abandoned building.
  • In a meeting with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, President Obama vowed an ongoing relationship with Iraq, however acknowledged divisions and complexities.
  • Amnesty International reported a rise in capital punishment in Saudi Arabia, condemning the beheading of a woman charged with “practicing witchcraft and sorcery.”

Daily Snapshot

 

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (L) speaks during a joint press conference with US President Barack Obama at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, December 12, 2011. The United States plans to sell Iraq 18 more F-16 fighter jets as Baghdad seeks to secure its airspace after the full withdrawal of US forces this month, a US official said Monday (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images).

Arguments & Analysis

‘Overhauling U.S. policy on Iran’ (Nader Hashemi, The National Interest)

“A transition to democracy in Iran is the only way of bringing about a qualitative change in Iranian behavior. Shifting to a new policy toward Iran will not be easy, but it is an essential substitute for our existing failed strategy. The reality is that Iran will eventually develop the technology to produce a nuclear weapon. While Washington may be able to stall this process, it cannot prevent it. Therefore, the question facing the United States is this: Do we want a nuclear Iran that is controlled by clerical oligarchs or one ruled by liberal democrats? If the latter is our preference, it is time for a U.S. policy that can expedite this outcome.”

‘Wars of decline: Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya’ (David Held & Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, Open Democracy)

“The intervention in Libya exceeded its UN mandate as NATO wilfully misrepresented the nature and intent of its actions to tip the balance of power against Gaddafi. It is difficult to see Libya avoiding the sort of lengthy civil strife that has resulted from the external interventions and acts of imposed regime change in Afghanistan and Iraq. The terrible irony is that the attempts to resist terrorist violence in the decade after 9/11 have ended up weakening the very structures of law and constraints on the use of force that have formed the cornerstone of the international system and bedrock of global security since 1945.” 

‘Why Egypt’s economy matters’ (Ben W. Heineman, Jr., The Atlantic)

“It has often been said that the future of a “new Arab world” will be shaped, perhaps significantly, by what happens in Egypt. Recognizing Egypt’s diversity, we should all watch, with great care and attention, not just the struggle for a more representative, open and legitimate system of government–which has received the bulk of media attention — but the struggle also for a more equitable and efficient economy. That goal may recede far into the future if the current economic conditions continue to get worse and if the conflicting political forces cannot agree on a course of action.” 

— By Mary Casey and Tom Kutsch

Latest from the Channel

‘The battle for Upper Egypt’ by Lauren E. Bohn

‘What Egypt’s military doesn’t what its citizens to know’ by Robert Springborg

<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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