Introduction – May 30, 2012
Syrian diplomats have been expelled from a string of Western countries in response to the Houla massacre. France and Australia have now joined the U.S., Canada, Italy, Spain and Britain in throwing out Syrian diplomats in protest.
The expulsions are ongoing despite no hard evidence to support charges of Syrian government involvement in the outrage beyond ‘rebel’ claims.
The Syrian government of President Assad has categorically denied involvement.
What is more notable however, is that all those countries that have just expelled Syrian diplomats – the U.S., France, Australia, Britain, Spain, Italy and Canada – were all active participants in the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Most were also involved to some degree in the overthrow of Libya’s President Gaddafi.
The fact that they are now acting in unison over the Houla outrage raises suspicions of a coordinated strategy to isolate Syria; just as they did previously against Iraq and Libya before intervening militarily.
Are they moving toward a similar endgame with Syria?
Syrian diplomats expelled over Houla killings
Angus MacSwain – Reuters May 29, 2012
France and Australia threw out Syrian diplomats from their capitals on Tuesday and other countries were due to follow suit as revulsion over the killing of more than 100 civilians in a Syrian town spurred them to act against President Bashar al-Assad.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called Assad a murderer and Australia’s Bob Carr said those responsible for the massacre at Houla would be held to account.
“Bashar al-Assad is the murderer of his people. He must relinquish power. The sooner the better,” Fabius said in an interview with French daily Le Monde.
French President Francois Hollande told reporters Syria’s ambassador in Paris was being expelled. He said the decision was not unilateral but taken in consultation with France’s partners.
Diplomatic sources in several countries told Reuters other governments would take similar action — a development which would mark a new phase in the international effort to halt the repression of a 14-month-old uprising against Assad and force him to relinquish power.
The immediate catalyst for the expulsions appeared to be the massacre on Friday, including women and children, in Houla, although the international community is increasingly frustrated at the failure of a U.N.-brokered peace plan to end the bloodshed in Syria.
Syrian officials denied any army role in the massacre, one of the worst since the uprising against Assad.
Australia announced the expulsion of two Syrian diplomats including the chief of mission, Jawdat Alai, on Tuesday and gave them 72 hours to leave the country.
“The Syrian charge has again been advised to convey a clear message to Damascus that Australians are appalled by this massacre and we will pursue a unified international response to hold those responsible to account,” Foreign Minister Carr said.
“This massacre of more than 100 men, women and children in Houla was a hideous and brutal crime.”
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan also condemned the killings and said there was a limit to the world’s patience.
“To carry out this kind of murder…while the United Nations observer mission is carrying out its mission in Syria is torture, it is wretched,” Erdogan said.
“There is also a limit to patience, and I believe that, God willing, there is also a limit to the patience in the U.N. Security Council,” Erdogan told a meeting of his ruling AK Party.