Chairman of Joint Chiefs Dempsey: Atrocities in Syria Make Military Intervention More Likely


ed note–remember as you read this that for a year now the USGOV has said repeatedly that it had ‘no plans’ for military action in Syria. Those of us living in the real world however knew different, that it was just a matter oftime b efore what was done to Libya was repeated in Syria. The Arab Spring has been nothing more than a a Zionist construct meant to achieve the same thing that took place in Iraq, minus the US troops and to set things in motion for a general war with Israel that in the end will destroy these various Arab countries.


BEIRUT, Lebanon — International efforts to pressure Syria intensified on Monday, as the United Nations special envoy Kofi Annan began negotiations in the capital, Damascus, and the chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff warned that continued atrocities could make military intervention more likely.

As the United Nations envoy Kofi Annan began talks in Syria on Monday, activists released a picture of residents swarming a United Nations vehicle Saturday in Houla, the site of a massacre.

William Hague, the British foreign minister, left, with his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, in Moscow on Monday.

Mr. Annan traveled to Syria seeking to salvage his peace plan, which appeared more precarious than ever after the massacre of at least 108 villagers in the Houla area of central Syria. He urged the government to hold to its commitment in March to honor the six-point plan, which included not only a cease-fire, but also political dialogue with the opposition and freedom for Syrians to demonstrate.

“I urge the government to take bold steps to signal that it is serious in its intention to resolve this crisis peacefully, and for everyone involved to help create the right context for a credible political process,” Mr. Annan said. Creating the right climate for progress was the responsibility of not only the government but “everyone with a gun,” he added.

Questions about the viability of the plan were thrown into sharp relief by the massacre in the villages that constitute Houla, near Homs, on Friday, whose victims included 49 children and 34 women by United Nations count. The Security Council on Sunday unanimously condemned the massacre and, while not assigning blame, censured the Syrian government for using heavy artillery against civilians.

The aftermath of the killings continued to reverberate inside Syria. Shops, including the famous Hamadiyah bazaar of Damascus, stayed shut as part of an opposition-led call to observe three days of mourning, according to opposition activists and residents. Damascus has been a bastion of government support. The activists and residents said government agents forced some stores to reopen, particularly in the nut and candy bazaar, by prying open their metal shutters.

Mr. Annan, the envoy of both the United Nations and the Arab League and a former United Nations secretary general, arrived with a new mandate from the Security Council — including Russia, which had usually blocked action against its ally in Damascus — to carry out his plan. He was scheduled to hold talks on Monday with Walid al-Moallem, the Syrian foreign minister, and with President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday. He will also meet with a variety of other people, including opposition figures, on the trip, which was scheduled before the massacre.

From the beginning, the peace plan has been given slim chances of success. But it was seen as an acceptable means to try to bridge the differences over Syria between the West and the Arab nations on one side and Russia, China and Iran on the other.

Some analysts have called it an international stalling measure, because the Western appetite for military intervention in the conflict is low, even in the absence of Russian opposition.

In Washington, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the massacre “horrific” and “atrocious” and said that he was prepared with military options in Syria should they be requested by the White House. But he otherwise spoke cautiously about American intervention by force.

“There is always a military option, but that military option should always be wielded carefully,” General Dempsey said on Fox News. “Because one thing we’ve learned about war, I have learned personally about war, is that it has a dynamic all its own — it takes on a life of its own.” Nonetheless, he said, “it may come to a point with Syria because of the atrocities.”

White House officials said on Monday that General Dempsey’s television appearances were not a coordinated administration response to Syria, but had been previously planned as part of the commemoration of Memorial Day. In recent days, the Obama administration has come under intensified criticism by some in Congress and by the Republican presidential front-runner, Mitt Romney, who accused President Obama of not doing enough to help the Syrian opposition.

In Moscow, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, was slightly more expansive in holding the Syrian government responsible for the violence during comments after a meeting about Syria with his British counterpart, William Hague. And both he and Mr. Hague agreed that the main priority was to fully carry out the peace plan.

Mr. Lavrov repeated Russia’s position that it was tied not to Mr. Assad staying in power, but to the Syrians piloting their own political transition.

“For us, the main thing is to put an end to the violence among civilians and to provide for political dialogue under which the Syrians themselves decide on the sovereignty of their country,” he said.

Despite the increased Russian public pressure on the Syrian government, Mr. Lavrov did echo Syrian government claims that the violence was being fomented by imported terrorists working at the behest of foreign governments — “a clear hand of Al Qaeda, and the threat of terrorism is growing.”

Later, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that Russia’s special representative to the Middle East, Mikhail Bogdanov, had told Riyad Haddad, the Syrian ambassador, that violence against civilians was unacceptable and that the six-point plan had to be implemented.

In Houla, where survivors buried their remaining dead in a mass grave on Monday, new accounts of the killings emerged, adding to earlier statements that some the attacks were by pro-government thugs who went house to house to find victims.

Human Rights Watch quoted one elderly woman from the Abdul Razzak clan as saying she survived by hiding in a back room while gunmen dressed in fatigues killed most of her family.

“I heard several gunshots,” she was quoted as saying, describing how she collapsed in terror until the soldiers left. “I looked outside the room and saw all of my family members shot. They were shot in their bodies and their head. I was terrified to approach to see if they were alive. I kept crawling until I reached the back door. I went outside, and I ran away.”

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