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In the News
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02-02-2012

Unrest Narrows in on Syrian Capital, Arab League Suspends Mission as UNSC Debates Draft Resolution on Syria

As unrest narrowed in on the Syrian capital this week, the Arab League moved to suspend the work of its monitoring mission in the country, citing heightened security concerns. At the same time, a number of Arab states along with Britain, France, and Germany, presented the United Nations Security Council with a new draft resolution on Syria. The resolution endorses the Arab League's plan for an overhaul of the current Syrian government. Today, heavy debate over the text continues as Russia and China remain firmly opposed to any text calling for a change in Syria's government - or that could pave the way for international intervention. 

In the News
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26-01-2012

Syria Rejects Arab League Plan for Government Overhaul, UN Unable to Track Mounting Death Toll

On Sunday, January 22, the Arab League put forth a surprising new peace plan which called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down from power, and for the Syrian government to move forward with negotiating with the opposition, establishing a transitional government, and eventually holding national elections. Damascus immediately shot down the new plan, terming it "blatant interference in its internal affairs". Nevertheless, the government approved a one-month extension of the League's observer mission, which is now set to conclude on February 22. The UN also announced today that fragmented conditions on the ground have caused it to lose track of the death toll from the revolution, another troubling outcome of the country's ongoing crisis.

In the News
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19-01-2012

Mandate of Arab League Observer Mission Ends, Syrian Pound Plummets to Record Low

The mandate of the Arab League's observer mission in Syria came to an end today amid widespread frustration by all sides. The mission is set to release a report on its findings within the next 48 hours, after which, League officials will convene to discuss both the findings and a way forward. The lack of a consensus at numerous levels with regard to how to bring an end to the current violence and the stalemate between the government and the opposition, has intensified in the face of worsening security conditions. On Thursday, the Syrian pound hit a six-year low of 71 to the US dollar, losing a third of its value and serving as troubling indicator of the spiraling cost of the country's current crisis. 

In the News
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12-01-2012

Resolute Syrian President to Use 'Iron Fist', Debate Over International Intervention Propels Disunity Among Opposition

On Tuesday, January 10 during an address at Damascus University, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad highlighted ongoing government reforms and vowed to continue the government's fight against terrorism and international conspirators. For its part, the Arab League observer mission in Syria has already been deemed a failure; violence has heavily intensified with over 400 killed since the first of its members arrived in country two weeks ago. At the same time, fuel and heating oil shortages, as well as a growing dearth of affordable food stuffs, are posing serious challenges to nearly all. 

In the News
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05-01-2012

Weekly posts in the Syria News Blog will resume next Thursday, January 12, 2012. Thank you for your patience. 

In the News
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29-12-2011

The Syrian Revolution Becomes Internationalized 

The crisis in Syria was officially internationalized when members of the Arab League's observer force arrived in Syria last Thursday. The following day, two car bombs exploded in front of state security offices in Kfar Sousa, Damascus, killing 44 and injuring another 100. The issue of who was responsible for the attack remains in dispute. Three days later, a second group of Arab League monitors arrived in Syria as violence in the central city of Homs intensified. Charged with monitoring the Syrian government's implementation of the Arab League's peace plan, the monitors have thus far been met with mixed emotions and varying levels of violence and disorder. 

In the News
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22-12-2011

Russia presents UNSC draft resolution, Damascus agrees to Arab League observer force, violence surges in Idlib, Homs, Daraa

In a surprise move, Russia presented the United Nations Security Council with a draft resolution on the Syria case one week ago today. Though the move was welcomed by Council members, many deemed the draft weak and insufficient. Just days later, a delegation from Iraq arrived in Syria to push Damascus to implement the Arab League's peace plan - a visit deemed "positive" by the delegation's leader Iraqi National Security adviser Falah al-Fayadh. Indeed, after weeks of negotiation, the Syrian government agreed on Monday to allow the League's international observer force into the country for one month beginning today, 22 December. At the same time, however, the country was shaken by the worst violence seen in some ten months of tumult, with some estimates putting the death toll from 48 hours of security crackdowns as high as 250.
 
In the News
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15-12-2011

Ninth Month of Syrian Revolution Ends, UN Raises Death Toll to Over 5,000

Today marks the end of the Syrian revolution's ninth month and nonviolent civil disobedience and activism among members of the opposition continue to rise, irregardless of the Syrian government's intensifying use of lethal force against its detractors. At the same time, the ranks of the Free Syrian Army, the armed element of the uprising, are slowly swelling, fueling concerns that the power of violence will soon overwhelm that of peaceful resistance. For their part, major players in the international community, Turkey, France, and the US among them, appear to be edging toward recanting their noninterventionist views on Syria's crisis, thereby ratcheting up fears that foreign military intervention in Syria is indeed on the table. 

In the News
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09-12-2011

Syrian President Denies Responsibility for Violence and Political Turmoil, Country Braces for Continued Tumult

During his first interview with American media since the start of the revolution, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad claimed no responsibility for the violence and political turmoil in Syria, reiterating Damascus's official line. President Assad told ABC's Barbara Walters this week that only a "crazy person" would kill his own people and indeed, the violence that has taken hold of Syria must only be attributed to armed gangs and efforts by the Syrian government to quell them. At the same time, Burhan Ghalioun, head of the leading opposition group, the Syrian National Council, made a number of missteps during an interview with the Wall Street Journal, leaving some concerned about the extent of his political acumen. The first week of December was a violent one, with well over 100 people killed amid ongoing turmoil. It came on the heels of the deadliest month thus far in the revolution: over 950 people were reportedly killed across the country during the month of November.

In the News
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02-12-2011

Arab League, Turkey Impose Sanctions Against Syria, UN Terms Crisis "Civil War," Ups Death Toll to "Much More" than 4,000

Damascus's recalcitrance before mounting regional and international pressure to bring an end to country-wide violence prompted both the Arab League and Turkey to impose sanctions against Syria this week. Syria's international isolation has taken on profound dimensions as the beleaguered government fights at all costs to remain at the country's helm. The UN Human Rights Committee has now charged the Syrian government with committing systematic "crimes against humanity" while the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, upped the death toll from the uprising on December 1 to "much more" than 4,000 and declared Syria in a state of "civil war".