The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states this week recalled their envoys from Syria and expelled Syria’s envoys from their countries over “the increase in killing and violence in Syria, which has not spared children, old people or women with heinous acts that at best can be described as mass slaughter.” The GCC statement came one day after the U.S. announced the closure of its embassy in Damascus. Britain, France, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands have also brought their envoys home.
The removal of diplomats from Damascus comes on the heels of Russia and China again vetoing a UN Security Council resolution on Syria, even though that resolution was watered-down during a week of negotiations prior to the vote. The veto leaves the U.S., Europe, and Arab League at an impasse with few remaining options. The U.S. and Europe have already imposed economic sanctions, but observers say President Bashar al-Asad is still convinced his regime can survive.
An anti-regime demonstrator in Syria holds up a sign for the West.
According to CNN, the Pentagon and the U.S. Central Command are conducting a preliminary review of U.S. military capabilities against Syria in the event that military action is called upon. The Obama administration maintains, however, that it will exhaust all non-military options before turning to force. In addition, the administration continues to maintain that it does not support arming the Syrian rebels at this point, instead favoring the creation of a contact group with them to strengthen ties.
But the death tolls continue to mount, even as Russia yesterday claimed to secure a promise from Asad — that was immediately broken — to end his bloody crack-down.
The options for the anti-Asad countries are narrowing. If the White House will not arm the rebels or intervene militarily, it seems that immediately building an international coalition outside of the United Nations that leaves out Russia and China would be an important next step. Reports out Wednesday claim that Turkey is now making such a move, again leaving this administration in the dust when it comes to taking the lead against regimes killing their people in light of the Arab uprisings.