The battle in Syria has boiled down to a test of strenght in both Damascus and Aleppo. Aleppo is of strategical importance for the Syrian Free Army (SFA). Control of that city of 3 Million, would give the SFA a foothold, not unlike Benghazi during the Libyan conflict.
The Syrian conflict could be a lengthy affair, which weakens the whole region. Koffi Annan resigned his position yesterday as the Syrian peace envoy.
"It is impossible for me or anyone to compel the Syrian government and also the opposition to take the steps to bring about the political process," said Annan, former UN secretary general.
"You have to understand: As an envoy, I can't want peace more than the protagonists, more than the Security Council or the international community for that matter."
The United Nations has been stalled in achieving a UN resolution that would bring pressure on the Assad regime. A Syria resolution heads to the UN General Assembly today, which is expection to denounce the violent actions of the Syrian regime and criticize the UN Security Council for failing to deal with the situation in Syria.
While Western powers have tried to pass a resolution, efforts have been blocked by Russia and China and this is is not about to change anytime soon. While the General Assembly resolution will probably pass, it is only a token resolution, which will have little effect on the situation in Syria.
Human Rights Abuses
Today's UN General Assembly resolution will highlight the abuses by the Assad regime, however it is also clear that these abuses are occurring on both sides. Human rights activists have condemned the public shooting in Syria of four apparent Assad loyalists by rebels in the battleground city of Aleppo.
The head of the Syria Observatory for Human Rights condemned the killing as "criminal". Human Rights Watch considers the act as a potential war crime according to a BBC report.
Russia said that the video shows that there a human rights abuses on both sides.
While Koffi Annan has singled out the Syrian regime for violent acts, it is becoming increasingly clear that a large number of violent human rights abuses are being committed by the rebels.
Involvement of Iran
The Iranian state run Press TV, a 24 hour English broadcast network, reported that Syrian troops attacked a command centre in Aleppo, which was located in a school in the Salahuddin district. Troops loyal to the Assad regime apparently killed 150 anti-Damascus armed groups. According to the report "calm has returned to Aleppo and Syrian forces have cleared most areas of the city of armed gangs although clashes are still continuing on the outskirts." Press TV
There is no question that Iran is heavily invested in the Assad regime and that the Islamic Republic is the strongest ally of the Assad regime in the region. In it's report the state run broadcasting service refers to anti-Damascus forces as terrorists.
"The terrorist Free Syrian Army has vowed to step up its attack in Aleppo by targeting the city's security centers.
Meanwhile, a video has been circulated online showing the execution by rebel gunmen in Aleppo of four supporters of President Assad's government.
Armed groups fighting against the Syrian government have been operating in Aleppo since July 20 after they were defeated in the capital, Damascus, and were forced to flee.
The Syrian government says the rebels are committing “horrific crimes” against civilians in Aleppo and Damascus." Press TV
Meanwhile the unarmed UN Observer mission is helpless and at the best has limited ability to observe anything. With Annan's resignation there is no peace to broker and the force should be removed.
US Support to Syrian Rebels
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem has written two letters to the head of the UN Security Council claiming that the rebels, who are backed and funded by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, are using civilians in Aleppo as human shields and killing anyone who does not support their crimes.
There has been speculation in the past that the Syrian Free Army has received heavy weapons entering through Turkey and Lebanon and that their leaders and some troops have received training in Turkey. There has also been insinuation that the CIA is involved.
Yesterday it was reported that President Obama signed an executive order earlie this year authorizing US support for Syrian rebels seeking to overthrow the Assad government. The order permits the CIA and other US agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust President Bashar al-Assad. When the order was actually signed is not known. It suffices to say that the US is now involved in the conflict.
It is unlikely that the conflict will end anytime soon. A lot of blood has been shed by both sides and there is likely to be a lot more. Some have predicted that the conflict could mirror the the lengthy war in Lebanon.
Israel is nervous with the events in the neighboring country, which could destabilize the whole region. The involvement of Iran and the apparent approval by Russia, make it extremely difficult. In other words the whole region is affected. Iran seems to be seeking dominance in the region with the development of a nuclear capability. This, naturally, makes countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan nervous.
There are no easy solutions to the problem. This would be a difficult nut to crack for any president. One can only hope that no one in the region hits the panic button and widens the conflict.
The UN has demonstrated, once again, how impotent it is to solve the real problems in the world.