Even as NATO takes control of the no-fly zone in Libya, Western leaders disagree on the situation in Syria, where forces of President Bashar al-Assad have killed dozens of protesters.
On Saturday, March 26, the town of Latakia saw violence by forces loyal to Assad: at least twelve protesters were killed and more the 150 injured by sniper and machine gun fire, as well as men wielding swords.
At a meeting in Brussels on Thursdsay, French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned that repressive leaders could expect action similar to that being taken in Libya: “Every ruler should understand, and especially every Arab ruler should understand that the reaction of the international community and of Europe will from this moment on each time be the same.”
“No democracy can accept that the army shoots live ammunition at protesters,” he continued.
US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, provided a different point of view on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday. While condemning the violence in Syria, Clinton seemingly supported Assad: “There´s a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he´s a reformer.”
Speaking to Bob Schieffer, host of Face the Nation, Clinton dismissed the idea of a Libya-style intervention: “Each of these situations is unique, Bob ... if there were a coalition of the international community, if there were the passage of [a UN] Security Council resolution, if there were a call by the Arab League, if there was a condemnation that was universal - but that is not going to happen.”
Assad has attempted to placate protestors by changing the constitution, lifting the country’s emergency law, but the concessions have done little to quell the protests. Some fear that Assad will follow in his father’s footsteps if the situation worsens: Hafez al-Assad had over 17,000 killed in the town of Hama in 1982 following protests there.
Leader of the NGO Human Rights, Ken Roth, disagreed with the Secretary’s opinion on his Twitter feed: “Clinton: won´t intervene in Syria because Assad is seen as ‘reformer.’ Should begin by reforming open-fire orders.” Amnesty International estimates that approximately fifty-five people have been killed in Syria since March 18th.