Skepticism of Diplomacy Mounts in Aftermath of Houla Massacre

• May 29, 2012 12:13 pm


ANCHOR: Syrian government militias went house-to-house killing men, women and children—that’s the conclusion of the latest U.N. report on the massacre of more than 100 civilians in the town of Houla. A spokesperson for the U.N. says more than half of the victims were children. The report issued as U.N. Arab enjoy met with the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. Ivan Watson monitoring developments for us in Istanbul. The U.N. mincing no words on who's to blame for that Houla massacre.

WATSON: absolutely not. The U.N. giving more details of what happened here, in the 15 months I've been covering this conflict, the grizzliest atrocity since the violence and the uprising began. A U.N. human rights spokesman saying that pro-government militias went house-to-house in village of Houla Friday night killing people.

UN SPOKESMAN: a fairly small number of shelling artillery and tank fire, which took place over a period of more than 12 hours. But the majority of appear to have been the result of house-to-house summary executions, of armed men going in to houses and killing men, women and children inside.

WATSON: and Kyra, 109 people at least killed Friday night and early Saturday morning in that village of Houla. At least 49 of them children under the age of 10. Of course, the Syrian government is denying any connection whatsoever to this violence.

MINISTER MIQDAD: during this time, Syria has not done a single violation of Annan's plan or the initial understanding between Syria and the United Nations. At the same time, the other party has not committed to a single point. This means that there is a decision not to implement Annan's plan and make it fail by the armed groups and the opposition.

WATSON: this is a bold-faced lie coming from the Syrian deputy foreign minister, Kyra. We have gotten voluminous reports of Syrian military not withdrawing from Syrian cities and towns since a united nations brokered peace plan went in to effect nearly two months ago. Voluminous accounts of violence being carried out by these troops. Attacks against unarmed demonstrators. Their government is lying here.

ANCHOR: What's Kofi Annan and other western governments saying about this, the flat-out lies and basically the evidence that exists?

WATSON: Well, today, we're seeing a concerted diplomatic push, a growing number of countries including the United States, Britain, France, Canada, Spain, Germany and Italy all announcing in the course of a couple of hours that Syrian diplomats in their capital cities are persona non grata. They must leave within 72 hours, and this in direct connection to the massacre that left at least 109 people dead. But I have to say, this is a measure proposed nearly two months ago at a so-called friends of Syria meeting that was held here in Istanbul. It wasn't adopted then. And it is unlikely to bring an end to the cycle of violence and killing in Syria. Some of the senior veteran middle east analysts and watchers that I’ve been talking to, even some senior and diplomats I’ve been talking to, stationed in the region, don't think that this is going to lead any government to intervene to put a stop to the killing that’s been going on despite protests from the international community for nearly 15 months and that has claimed thousands of lives.


Published under: Bashar al-Assad, Middle East, Syria, Video