Syrian 'gas attack' prompts UN emergency meeting
By The Associated Press, from CBC website, August 21, 2013
The UN Security Council has scheduled an emergency meeting for later today after Syrian regime forces fired intense artillery and rocket barrages on the eastern suburbs of the capital of Damascus, in what two pro-opposition groups claimed was a "poisonous gas" attack reported to have killed at least 100 people.UN deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey said the council will meet at 3 p.m. ET Wednesday, after Russia and the U.S. made calls for an investigation into the alleged attack.
Del Buey said Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is "shocked" at the reported use of chemical weapons in the country.
Reports like these, generating a meeting urged by both Russia and the United States, would have to be based on some level of verified intelligence, since the two major powers have taken opposite sides in the Syrian civil war, with Russia backing the Assad regime and the U.S. supplying weapons to the rebels.
There is, however, a kind of listlessness to the world's responses to the Syrian debacle. It has taken a long time to bring about any kind of joint effort that would see a process to bring the conflict to a ceasefire, and not just a ceasefire on some piece of paper that both sides are obliged to sign for the purpose of some political photo-op, in which outside parties can seek refuge from the public criticism that has come from many quarters, but a real, permanent, monitored and sustained cessation of the violence, including the use of 'poisonous gas' if there reports are to be given credence.
The Middle East, so turbulent now for the last two years, promising hope and freedom from tyranny in the beginning of the Arab Spring, yet now devolving, perhaps even spiralling into the kind of chaos that so co-mingles the various sides, that it could take some kind of magician's hand to unravel the multiple knots in which the region is becoming tied.
Are the Muslim Brotherhood, for example, sliding into a true terrorist organization, taking on some of the methods and real of AlQaeda?
Is the army in Egypt, for example, merely replicating the Mubarak regime, without the tyrant at the head?
Is Assad, as he seems to want the world to believe, saving his country from terrorists, and protecting the religious minorities, a theme that is gaining traction as the forces vying for an Islamic state, (or multiple Islamic states) struggle with the forces of secular governance, with all sides giving lip service to protecting those minorities, perhaps as hypocritical cover for their real aspirations.
Is the United Nations sufficiently cohesive, and adequately positioned to make any kind of positive impact on the situation in Syria, or in Egypt, for that matter, given the depth and the breadth of the hostilities, and the apparent failure of any of the major powers to make any difference?
Is poisonous gas deployed by either or both combatants in the Syrian conflict really a cry for outside intervention, knowing that sooner or later the truth would "out" and cries of outrage would ensue from the detached and moaning outsider governments?
And what will be the response from the Security Council, and what teeth will there be in whatever resolution it actually passes?
Have the parties in Sryia become so dependent on violence, and so desperate in their pursuit of their conflicting aims, that only death or its near equivalent, exhaustion, will bring this mess to a silent grave?