#Syria: #UN envoy finally says #Assad must go!

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Yesterday the foreign ministers of Austria, Slovenia, Ireland and Denmark called for the Syria crisis to be referred to the International Criminal Court. In a joint statement published by CNN today, those ministers, Michael Spindelegger, Karl Erjavec, Eamon Gilmore and Villy Søvndal said:

Time to refer Syria crisis to ICC

Over the months, we have been following the events in Syria with growing concern. We support the aspirations of the Syrian people to freely choose a government that represents all the enriching diversity of this multi-confessional nation, one that respects the rule of law, human rights and democracy. It is deplorable that the current regime in Damascus has not heeded the repeated calls for a peaceful transition of power. As do our colleagues from the Arab League, we strongly condemn the violence by the al-Assad regime against the Syrian people. We call on all sides to end the violence and to genuinely support the U.N.-led efforts to achieve a political solution.

But recent developments have given reason for even more serious concern. U.N. peacekeepers were seriously injured when a convoy of the UNDOF peacekeeping operation on the Golan Heights was attacked. Reports about possible preparations for the use of chemical weapons circulate. The al-Assad regime is preparing Damascus for confrontation with the rebels and we know that these situations of last stand urban fighting often result in the most terrible atrocities being committed in armed conflict, with particular dangers for civilians. Concerned that the crisis in Syria may soon reach a new level of violence, we publicly appeal to all parties to the conflict to abide by international law, especially international humanitarian law and human rights law, and to recall that all those that commit or order war crimes and crimes against humanity will be held accountable. This principle cannot and will not be negotiated. More...

Today, the leader of the National Coalition for Syrian Opposition and Revolutionary Forces, Mouaz al-Khatib, restated the revolutions firm position that Assad can have no place in the transition from his dictatorship, and also demanded that Assad must stand trial for his crimes:

“Neither I nor the coalition has the right to ignore the blood of Syrians that has been shed,” he said in an interview with the Cihan news agency published on Thursday. “The Syrians will decide on what they want to do [with Assad]. We are talking about a person who massacred the people and devastated the country.”

al-Khatib suggested that if Assad continues with his military response to the uprising he would likely meet with the same fate as Qaddafi, but he also sought to allay fears that a revolutionary victory would be followed by more bloodletting:

“The solution for us is very simple. The only problem for us is him and the mafia he leads that is ruling the country. We have no problem with anyone else in Syria,”

It has been clear for almost two years now that Bashar al-Assad is a mass murderer with little respect for the law and even less for his own people. In point of fact the criminal court is his proper place, not the presidential palace.

Nevertheless, there has been a concerted effort by major powers to force Assad down the throats of a people that have already shed far too much blood in their efforts to be rid of him. How can one insist that this mass murderer, this tyrant that even today is using terror and slaughter in a desperate effort to remain in power, be part of Syria's future, when he should be idling in a jail cell or visiting with Qaddafi.

But for almost a year now, that has been the policy of the United Nations. First Special UN Envoy Kofi Annan and then his replacement, Lakhdar Brahimi has called for a negotiated settlement to the Syria conflict that still gave Bashar al-Assad a place at the table. With the UN reporting that his conflict has cost more than 60,000 lives already, finally it looks like the UN Envoy is changing his tune.

Wednesday, Lakhdar Brahimi, when speaking of a transitional government for Syria, told Reuters "Surely he would not be a member of that government," The Guardian Live Blog had the story early:

The international envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said that Bashar al-Assad could have no place in a transitional government to end civil war, the closest he has come to calling directly for the embattled president to quit. A peace plan agreed by major powers in Geneva last year envisages an interim administration. "Surely he would not be a member of that government," Brahimi told Reuters in an interview in Cairo. Brahimi's camp previously urged the opposition to 'come to terms' with the idea that Assad would stay in post in some role until 2014. But in his interview he said: "The solution shouldn't wait until 2014. It should be in 2013."

• In a separate interview with the BBC Brahimi said the Assads had been in power "a little bit too long" and that there is currently "no political solution" to the crisis. He also expressed doubt about whether Assad accepted the need for a transition. "I think he uses the word, but whether he means the transition that is needed is uncertain," Brahimi said.

Today, the Assad regime responded. The al-Watan newspaper branded Brahimi "a tool for the implementation of the policy of some Western countries" and said he had dropped his "mask of impartiality."

Finally! How can one remain impartial about a murderer and his victims?

Assad's Foreign Minister said in Damascus that Brahimi's comments showed "he is flagrantly biased for those who are conspiring against Syria and its people".

The diplomats have another meeting about Syria on Friday, while the masses in Syria will be out protesting. They have declared tomorrow's demonstrations "The Friday of the Death Camps", to protest the deplorable and life threatening conditions in the refugee camps that hundreds of thousands of Syrians find themselves in and the lack of concern shown by the world for their plight.

For example, on yesterday's ABC evening news, Diane Sawyer talked but the rare snow fall in Jordan as some wonderfully unique weather event, but never mentioned the thousands of Syrians suffering this winter in tents in Jordan or the fact that children in those camps have been freezing to death.

Nor did she mention Syria in any other report, even in their segment on Iran, she failed to note the Iranians for Syrians prisoner swap that I reported on yesterday. It's like mums-the-word when it comes to reporting on the plight of the Syrian people in the major media. Even Democracy Now fails to note the ~200 people a day dying in this conflict.

Those anti-interventionists that see a big MSM campaign to build support for NATO action against Assad must be living in an alternate universe.

Also today, NATO reported that the Assad regime has resumed firing Scud missiles at its own people, "The use of such indiscriminate weapons shows utter disregard for the lives of the Syrian people," a NATO official said.

On the ground, the war goes on and the real engine driving all of these developments in international circles is the steady progress being made by the opposition fighters. Today they are reported to have taken the major air force base in Idlib.

And while the Syrian people struggle, die and suffer, all the international players look upon this very tragic situation with the question: How can I profit from this? uppermost in their minds.

Mohammed Daraghmeh reporting for the AP yesterday gave us another recent example of this. After Yarmouk, a Palestinian camp in Damascus that is home to 150,000 refugees was bombed by the Assad regime, the Palestinian President Abbas, through Ban Ki-moon, ask for Israeli permission to move those Palestinians out of harms way to Gaza and the West Bank.

The answer came back from Israeli: Of course, happy to oblige, provide of course, that any Palestinians who wish to transverse Israel "sign[s] a statement that he doesn't have the right of return (to Israel)."

That "humanitarian" offer was declined. Thanks, but No Thanks!

Click here for a list of my other Daily Kos dairies on Syria