The Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad continues its violent crackdown against demonstrators inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere around the region, with the repressing increasing in intensity and viciousness over the past several months. A recent Human Rights Watch report focusing on the Daraa governorate described “systematic killings, beatings, torture using electroshock devices, and detention of people seeking medical care.” Thousands of Syrians have fled north to Turkey, with thousands more sure to follow.
While the options to resolve the crisis are very limited, the United States and its allies need to provide consistent leadership when it comes to addressing the ferocious suppression in Syria. The Europeans have already taken the lead, seeking support for a U.N. Security Council resolution designed to condemn the Syrian crackdown on antiregime protesters. It’s time for the United States, working with the international community and especially Turkey, to push back against these gross violations of human rights.
The resolution, sadly, has stalled at the United Nations. What’s more, there is no military option available, sanctions are already in place, Syria’s neighbors are divided, and the Arab League lacks consensus. Yet this is precisely why it is important for the United States to make its position public and be at the forefront of this U.N. debate. A number of reasons make this U.N. vote more than a merely symbolic exercise.
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