The U.N. expresses concern over Syrian violence in the Golan

The U.N. Security Council released a statement Wednesday in which it expressed that it is has become increasingly concerned with military activities in the Golan and the heightened threat to U.N. personnel on the ground. The United Nations has sent extra armored vehicles and ambulances to its mission in the Golan Heights. Earlier this month, ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

The U.N. Security Council released a statement Wednesday in which it expressed that it is has become increasingly concerned with military activities in the Golan and the heightened threat to U.N. personnel on the ground. The United Nations has sent extra armored vehicles and ambulances to its mission in the Golan Heights. Earlier this month, twenty-one Filipino peacekeepers from the UNDOF mission were abducted by Syrian opposition fighters. UNDOF is comprised of about 1,000 only lightly armed peacekeepers. U.N. officials have also reported that Syria has not yet allowed "unfettered access" to the United Nations for an investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons in an attack in Aleppo province last week. The Syrian government requested the inquiry and the United Nations would like to begin work next week, but officials have not yet reached an agreement with Syrian President Bashar al Assad on the extent of the investigation. Meanwhile, after taking Syria's seat at the Arab League summit in Qatar, the opposition Syrian National Coalition has opened up an embassy in Doha. While the coalition has appointed envoys to several countries, including Britain, France, Libya, Turkey, and the United States, this is the first diplomatic mission the opposition has established.

Headlines

Egyptian naval forces have arrested three divers who were trying to sever a Telcom Egypt undersea internet cable off the port of Alexandria. Bahrain has cleared 21 medics of charges linked to involvement in the 2011 anti-government protests. However cases for two others remain open due to their failure to appear in court. Iran's Foreign Ministry has summoned a Saudi envoy, protesting accusations that some members of an alleged spy ring arrested last week in Saudi Arabia worked for Iranian intelligence. Tunisia is hosting the 2013 World Social Form, the first held in an Arab country since 2001. 

The U.N. Security Council released a statement Wednesday in which it expressed that it is has become increasingly concerned with military activities in the Golan and the heightened threat to U.N. personnel on the ground. The United Nations has sent extra armored vehicles and ambulances to its mission in the Golan Heights. Earlier this month, twenty-one Filipino peacekeepers from the UNDOF mission were abducted by Syrian opposition fighters. UNDOF is comprised of about 1,000 only lightly armed peacekeepers. U.N. officials have also reported that Syria has not yet allowed "unfettered access" to the United Nations for an investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons in an attack in Aleppo province last week. The Syrian government requested the inquiry and the United Nations would like to begin work next week, but officials have not yet reached an agreement with Syrian President Bashar al Assad on the extent of the investigation. Meanwhile, after taking Syria’s seat at the Arab League summit in Qatar, the opposition Syrian National Coalition has opened up an embassy in Doha. While the coalition has appointed envoys to several countries, including Britain, France, Libya, Turkey, and the United States, this is the first diplomatic mission the opposition has established.

Headlines

  • Egyptian naval forces have arrested three divers who were trying to sever a Telcom Egypt undersea internet cable off the port of Alexandria.
  • Bahrain has cleared 21 medics of charges linked to involvement in the 2011 anti-government protests. However cases for two others remain open due to their failure to appear in court.
  • Iran’s Foreign Ministry has summoned a Saudi envoy, protesting accusations that some members of an alleged spy ring arrested last week in Saudi Arabia worked for Iranian intelligence.
  • Tunisia is hosting the 2013 World Social Form, the first held in an Arab country since 2001. 

Arguments and Analysis

Tribalism in the Jerusalem speech (David Bromwich, Mondoweiss)

"Compare what Barack Obama said in Jerusalem on March 21 with what he said in Cairo on June 4, 2009 and you find many similarities. Both were greetings by a recently-elected American president to a people who had come to doubt the worth of such a communication. In both cities, the improbable event was made credible by words expressing the most generous good intentions, and concluding with a proclamation of large hopes.

The Cairo speech carried two announcements with practical implications. First, "the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements." Second, the president assured his Muslim audience that they would soon see evidence of his determination not to be at war with Islam.  The first promise he failed to keep. On the second, the returns are not all in: the Iraq war is over but drone assassinations, favored by this president, have built up a new kind of war by the U.S. in the Arab world, and Obama’s presidency has done more to increase the likelihood of war than to improve the chances of negotiation with Iran.

Obama’s Middle East speeches of 2009 and 2013 were equally flattering to his audience on the chosen occasion. The ground of his respect for Muslims in Cairo was the authenticity of their religious faith and tribal roots. The ground of his respect for Israeli Jews was their religious and tribal roots and their national success. In the past, American presidents would have made this a secondary concern. The usual point of such a visiting speech is to admire the presence of liberty and basic political rights in the host nation (to the extent that these exist) and to ask the leaders and the people to advance the cause. Obama, in a cultural emphasis that was new, admired the Muslims in Cairo for being Muslim. Four years later, he admired the Israeli Jews in Jerusalem for being Jewish."

No, Islamists will not dominate in Syria (Rami Khouri, The Daily Star)

"The fast pace of developments in and around Syria in the past week has pushed the country more quickly toward the end of Bashar Assad’s regime, a situation many of us thought was imminent last autumn. He did not fall then for reasons that are evident today. The first is that Assad’s strategy from the start of the uprising against his rule two years ago this month turned out to be that he would, first, bludgeon into submission civilians who demonstrated against him (as his father had done in Hama 30 years earlier). And when that failed he would cede territory to them, but continue to hit their areas hard using air power and missiles. The Syrian government that ruled nationally has disappeared, to be replaced by fortified military bases tightly controlled by Assad loyalists, cousins and desperado fellow Alawites who are prepared to destroy Syria to save themselves.

The second is that this is a losing strategy, because the regime’s circling of its wagons in a few areas makes it more vulnerable than ever to the continued successes of Islamist rebels and the enhanced strengthening of the secular rebels (thanks to aid and training from Arab and foreign powers). As both prongs of the armed opposition advance on the regime’s isolated strongholds, and rockets fall in the center of Damascus, Assad’s constricted bases will panic, and ultimately collapse."

–By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey

<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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