The Arab Spring that toppled regimes in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya (with an assist!) and led to protests in at least a dozen other countries throughout North Africa and the Middle East has turned into what’s been dubbed by some as an Arab Winter, with anti-American protests fueled by Islamic extremists popping up in much of the Muslim world. There is one place still in the throes of an Arab Spring uprising, Syria. Events in Syria may have been overshadowed by anti-American protests elsewhere in the region, and those protests may even have been egged on for just that reason. From the Daily Beast last week, when Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called for more protests against the anti-Islamic film likely used as cover by extremists:
As the protesters massed next door, many Syrian revolutionaries… mused darkly on how the protests over an amateur anti-Islam film were distracting international attention from their plight. “Assad must be very happy by now,” an activist in Damascus, who uses the pseudonym Lena, says.
Some even thought that Nasrallah—who made a rare public appearance at Monday’s rally in which he called it the start of “a serious campaign that must continue all over the Muslim world”—had created the stir to help his friend. “They’re trying to thwart the Syrian revolution,” says Gen. Mustafa Sheikh, the head of the military council for the rebel Free Syrian Army. “Meanwhile, Syrians are getting killed at the hands of Hizbullah and the Iranians, and no one is helping.”
Via Reason 24/7, just today in Syria rebels claim government forces massacred forty people in a small town outside of Damascus. The military, meanwhile, says Syrian rebels bombed the headquarters of the Army and the Air Force in Damascus. Yesterday a bomb went off outside an orphanage built for children whose parents have died in the nineteen months of unrest and government violence. The government says no one was hurt and the bomb didn’t damage the buildings while rebels say the school was actually a headquarters for Syrian intelligence and that their bomb resulted in many deaths. The United Nations, of course, is calling for international action. There has been little, but not for lack of trying—the United States, the United Kingdom and France have pushed several resolutions that would authorize sanctions or military action against Syria in response to the violence, one coming up this week. These resolutions have been nixed by Russia, which, along with China, France, the U.K and the U.S., hold veto power in the Security Council.
John McCain, meanwhile, has been campaigning for a U.S. intervention in Syria since the Libya mission ended. He endorsed President Obama’s interventionist inclinations vis a vis the Arab Spring in an op-ed in March, arguing the president has failed his own principles. Republicans used their convention to tout a more interventionist policy than Obama’s, and McCain himself went so far as to blame the anti-American sentiment throughout the Muslim world on a lack of engagement, saying demonstrators and those fueling them on “believe that America is weak and we’re withdrawing, and that’s what it’s all about”. Now you know!