UN Special envoy Kofi Annan must be a frustrated man, and understandably so because of the unending violence in Syria. Annan’s efforts in helping to restore peace in Syria seem to be hitting a reverse gear with unending attacks on civilians, as the United Nations Security Council remains indifferent.
The latest attack took place on Thursday where about 220 Syrians, mostly civilians, were killed in a village in the rebellious Hama region, which was bombarded by helicopter gunships and tanks.
A frustrated Annan said he was shocked and appalled by the intense fighting and the confirmed use of heavy weaponry. He said Syria had flouted Security Council resolutions with mass killings. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also demanded that the Council acts to stop the bloodshed.
Over 17,000 people have so far been killed in Syria since President Bashar al-Assad’s regime launched a brutal crackdown on dissent in March, last year.
The unfolding tragedy now calls for immediate action to end further deaths of civilians and, as Ban says, “inaction would be a license for further massacres”. The Council, although divided on the matter, must heed Ban’s call to take charge and end the 16-month-old conflict.
Under Annan’s six-point peace plan, which was endorsed by the Council but never implemented, the Syrian Government was to withdraw troops and heavy weapons from populated areas and halt all violence, to be followed by a cessation of hostilities by the opposition.
The Council has failed to adopt sanctions against Assad’s regime because two of its members, China and Russia, opposed them. World leaders must speak out against the violence in Syria and heed a recent call by US Permanent Representative to the UN, Susan Rice who said, “Protecting civilians is a fundamental responsibility of the international community”.