US Responds to Syrian Crisis

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What’s the U.S. strategy for trying to deal with the tremendous brutality in Syria?

Recognizing the unrelenting, brutal crackdown carried out by the Assad regime, the United States of America today revealed its strategy to respond to the turmoil in the region.

In a joint meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres hosted by the Brookings Institution, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stresses that what happens to Syria matters greatly to the United States, but it matters drastically to Israel.

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An observer with the UN Supervision in Syria (UNSMIS) interviews a local man while conducting a factfinding mission in the Syrian village of Mazraat al-Qubeir, where a massacre of civilians reportedly took place on Wednesday. UN Photo/David Manyua

Ms. Clinton pointed three quick points on US response to Syria.

“First, we continue to support Kofi Annan’s efforts, and we do so because he represents both the United Nations and the Arab League.” -Ms Clinton

She highlighted that it’s quite unprecedented to have a joint special envoy who is speaking for two organizations that have seen their common interest in trying to bring an end to the violence and help to precipitate and then shepherd through a political transition.

And the six-point plan that former Secretary General Annan laid out is a good plan, she noted.

“Of course, the peace plan was not being implemented.” -Ms. Clinton

She says that the contempt and rejection of the first principle of that plan, namely the cessation of violence by the Assad regime, has certainly been a grave assault not only on the lives of the Syrian people but on the international effort intended to bring an end to this ongoing conflict.

Kofi Annan is now trying to put together a group of countries that would include Russia that should be included to work on a roadmap for political transition, she emphasized.

She notes that Russia has increasingly said that it was not defending Assad, but it worried about what came after Assad, and that it would work on political transition..

She announced she will meet with Kofi Annan on Friday. She states they will talk through what his strategy would be and he is working very hard to try to implement it.

“The redline for us was the inclusion of Iran.” -Ms. Clinton

She pointed out that it would be a grave error since Iran is not only supporting the Assad regime, but actively mentoring, leading, encouraging not merely the regular army, but the militias that are springing up, engaging in sectarian conflict.

“So we have a timeline in mind to see whether or not this effort of Kofi’s can be successful.” -Ms. Clinton

She notes that the outer limit of that is mid-July when the Security Council has to decide whether or not to extend the mission.

She notes that if there is no discernable movement by then, it will be very difficult to extend a mission that is increasingly dangerous for the observers on the ground.

Secondly, Ms. Clinton cites that the challenge faced by so many is the other factor to consider.

The US government and its partners is looking realistic approach to bring an end to the violence without seeing an increase in the activities of certain elements of the opposition that could lead to even greater violence.

She noted that from time to time that the Turks are meeting with certain elements.

“The Qataris, the Emiratis, the Saudis, others are trying to figure out how to support people who are under the assault of the Syrian regime.” -Ms. Clinton

There are lots of weapons on the black market, there’s money that’s available, there seems to be an increasing capacity in the opposition both to defend themselves and to take the fight to the Syrian military in an irregular way, Ms. Clinton emphasized.

However, she notes there’s no doubt that the onslaught continues, the use of heavy artillery and the like.

The United States has confronted the Russians about stopping their continued arms shipments to Syria.

The Russians said that there’s nothing to worry about and everything they’re shipping is unrelated to their actions internally.

“That’s patently untrue.” -Ms. Clinton

The US government is concerned about the latest information that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria, which will escalate the conflict quite dramatically.

She reports that there seems to be a massing of Syrian forces around Aleppo that the US government has gatheres information about over the last 24, 48 hours.

“That could very well be a redline for the Turks in terms of their strategic and national interests, so we’re watching this very carefully.” -Ms. Clinton

She explains that part of the reason why this is complicated in the face of a clear rejection of what the Assad regime is doing is because there is such a fear among many elements of the Syrian society and in the region about what would come next.

“You haven’t had a wholesale departure, support, or even into exile of a lot of major players in the Syrian society.” -Ms. Clinton

She says the US is approached on a regular basis by representatives of different groups within Syria who are terrified of what comes next.

She stresses that the US concern as to this time is how it can push the Assad regime out.

“There’s no doubt it needs to go but create a transition that gives at least some possible reassurance to those who fear what comes next.” -Ms. Clinton

On April this year, with the deteriorating situation in Syria due to turmoil, the United States of America bolstered efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to people affected by the conflict in the country.

The UN estimates that there are over 1 million Syrians inside Syria in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Of that number, it’s an estimated 300,000 internally displaced.

There are over 66,000 refugees in neighboring countries.

In terms of funding, the United States has dedicated some $33 million to support the important work to assist and protect those in need in Syria and neighboring countries, and much more is on the way.

US pproach is to work through international and nongovernmental organizations.

The United States commends the brave and dedicated work that the humanitarian organizations on the ground in Syria and in the neighboring countries are carrying out, including the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, and the World Food Program, and many international nongovernmental organizations.

The ongoing conflict in Syria has created a severe and growing humanitarian crisis, and the humanitarian organizations currently operating in Syria are tirelessly working to get aid out as quickly as possible into areas where safety and security are questionable.

To help meet the growing needs, the United States is providing food, clean water, basic healthcare, medical and other emergency relief supplies to benefit more than 400,000 people in Syria and neighboring countries so far.

One of US largest emergency partners right now is the World Food Program, which has been helping to reach a hundred thousand people per month in some of the most conflict-affected cities and zones since this conflict began.

World Food Program, WFP, is being distributed in coordination with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

With support from the United States and other donors, WFP has expanded its emergency food assistance to reach now 250,000 conflict-affected Syrians, so the program is expanding.

US assistance is through international and non-governmental humanitarian partners which include:

  • $10.5 million to the World Food Program (WFP);
  • $8.5 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR);
  • $7.8 million to non-governmental organizations (NGOs);
  • $3 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA); and
  • $3 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

    Reports say displaced Syrians have received U.S. assistance in the form of medical supplies and other humanitarian relief.

    According to the US State Department, humanitarian assistance is provided on the basis of need, not political affiliation, and is being distributed to the most vulnerable through international and non-governmental organizations.

    The United States is seeking for ways possible to get humanitarian relief reaches Syria. It is engaged in comprehensive diplomatic efforts to secure unhindered access for humanitarian organizations to reach those in need.

  • Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.