by our Arab Affairs correspondent
SYRIAN troops are begining to withdraw from the cities as the Assad government moves to implement proposals put forward by United Nations mediator Kofi Annan to end the crisis in the country and create the conditions for fresh elections under the new constitution.
Annan, whose mission was also endorsed by the Arab League, called for an end to violence by all parties, the delivery of humanitarian aid and medical treatment for the wounded, as well as talks between the government and opposition. A UN observer team will be sent to Damascus to supervise the agreement, which calls for the withdrawal of the Syrian army and the Muslim Brotherhood militias from all urban areas.
The Syrian army is continuing mopping up operations along the northern frontier with Turkey, where much of the rebels’ arms and money comes from. This week troops intercepted an armed terrorist gang that had crossed the Turkish frontier, killing one rebel and forcing the rest to flee back over the border.
Bomb-making materials including some 1,500 electrical detonators were found amongst the equipment the rebels left behind. Meanwhile over 100 gunmen have given themselves up to the police in Madaya, some 40 km north-west of the capital, Damascus. After surrendering their weapons they asked to be allowed to return to their normal lives and vowed never to bear arms again.
The Syrians say that any peace agreement has to be implemented by both sides to work and that the army pull-out must be matched by the militias and the “Free Syrian Army”. They also called on Annan to hold talks with the leaders of those countries that fund, sustain and encourage the armed opposition in order to convince them to end their interference in Syria’s internal affairs.
That is precisely what US-led imperialism and its feudal Arab dependencies are not going to do. This was made clear at the Arab League summit in Baghdad last week. The Saudis and the other oil princes, who see the Iraqi government as little more than a cipher for Iran, sent low-level delegations and the conference, as usual, achieved nothing apart from the usual platitudes that count for nothing in the Arab world these days.
But the oil princes showed their true hand, and those of their imperialist mentors, at another “Friends of Syria” conference in Istanbul last Sunday. There, representatives from more than 80 countries voiced support for the Syrian opposition when they met in the Turkish city while vowing to step up international pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government to stop the year-long violence and agree on their version of a peaceful political transition that inevitably would hand the country over to the reactionary Muslim militias.
The meeting agreed to recognise the “Syrian National Council” (SNC) as a legitimate representative of all Syrians and an umbrella organisation for Syrian opposition groups.
The conference, a front for Nato and the oil princes, vowed to render all possible assistance, both technical advice and direct support, to a Syria-led political process that is peaceful, orderly and stable. It also agreed to continue and increase, as a matter of urgency, its assistance, including funding and financial support, to meet the needs of the Syrian people.
US imperialism is going to give another $12 million “humanitarian aid” for Syria’s embattled population as well as communications equipment to help the opposition forces evade government attacks, while a number of the Arab Gulf emirates publicly pledged millions of dollars to pay the wages of the rebels. Meanwhile a Russian warship is returning to Tarsus in what Moscow calls a routine visit to its naval base in the Syrian port.