Skip to main content

Author: U.S. averting gaze from Syria slaughter

April 26, 2012 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Fouad Ajami is an expert at Stanford and author of the upcoming "The Syrian Rebellion"
  • He believes the peace plan in Syria is only helping the al-Assad regime
  • Ajami says the U.S. bears a moral responsibility for what happens there

(CNN) -- For 13 months, violence has raged in Syria between President Bashar al-Assad's forces and the opposition in a lopsided battle that has seen thousands killed amid a number of international attempts to broker a peace deal.

The latest reports of violence follow news that more U.N. observers are arriving in Syria. The U.N. Security Council recently authorized sending up to 300 monitors to Syria for 90 days. They are tasked with observing a cease-fire that was supposed to have begun April 12.

They're also charged with monitoring the implementation of U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan, which calls for the government and the opposition to end the bloodshed, provide access to the population for humanitarian groups, release detainees, and start a political dialogue.

But why is the violence continuing, and what chance does a peace plan have in Syria? CNN's John King spoke with Fouad Ajami, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and author of the soon-to-be released book "The Syrian Rebellion." Here's an edited version of their conversation:

Emergency meeting in Cairo over Syria
Snipers continue fierce assault in Syria
Report: Syrian killings after U.N. visit
Syria's deadly lies to U.N. monitors

JOHN KING: Kofi Annan, the former U.N. secretary-general, filed a report essentially with the U.N. Security Council Monday that says, guess what, Syria is still violating the cease-fire, still breaking its rules. As soon as the monitors leave town, (security forces are) going in and killing people. And Annan says he's "going to lodge his objections," meet with the Syrian people "at an appropriate time." Do you see any urgency, or is it -- as you wrote in the "Wall Street Journal" -- you view this Annan mission as essentially cover for al-Assad?

FOUAD AJAMI: Well over 1,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the Kofi Annan mission. The Kofi Annan mission -- to be blunt about it -- is really a lifeline to the Bashar regime.

And you know, people in (there), people in distress, they know things very clearly and state it very clearly. One city stuck a note on one of the land cruisers of the observers and said the following: "The butcher kills, the observers observe, and the people go on with the revolution." There is nothing new in that Syrian nightmare.

KING: I know the U.S. ambassador to United Nations, Susan Rice, is quite frustrated. She had said that Russia and China have blood on the hands because they won't accept a tougher proposal. But the United States is among those who have backed this Kofi Annan mission. When you hear the reports of further crimes against the (protesters) and then you say, we'll be touch with them at the appropriate time; at what point does the United States for its own credibility need to walk away from that process?

AJAMI: We bear our own moral responsibility. And we know, for example, that we can say unequivocally that Russia and China are responsible. We can say that they aid and abet the Bashar al-Assad regime. But what about American culpability?

We went to the United Nations when anyone would have told you that the Russians and Chinese were going to veto any resolution that would aid the Syrian people. So at some point in time ... we have to accept our own responsibility. We can't say such terms as "the violence in Syria is unacceptable." We are accepting it. It goes on day after day. And the United States itself is doing nothing about it.

KING: Do you see any evidence that there's a change of heart, or is this going to go on and is the killing going to continue while the world talks, but does nothing?

AJAMI: Well, I think there's one beat that you know very well, more than the rest of us, I believe. You observe and understand the game in Washington very, very well.

Nothing will happen: That's my own prediction, my own fear, my own sense. Nothing is going to happen before the November election in 2012, before the bid of President Obama for a second term. I spent some time in Turkey. I spent some time in the refugee camps in Turkey, and even just simple people, simple people, unschooled, unlettered, they will tell you, no cavalry is coming to the rescue, and that Washington has pretty much looked away and averted its gaze from this terrible slaughter. And everyone, the Arabs, the Turks, are waiting on the Obama administration, and the rain of mercy has not come.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Syrian crisis
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0823 GMT (1623 HKT)
The little boy looks barely old enough to walk, let alone understand the dark world he's now inhabiting.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0422 GMT (1222 HKT)
ISIS has released video of the aftermath of a mass execution. Another video shows alleged captured Peshmerga soldiers.
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 0933 GMT (1733 HKT)
The number of people who have fled Syria and registered as refugees amid the country's civil war will surpass 3 million Friday.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
Douglas McAuthur McCain, 33, grew up in the Minneapolis area, but died more than 6,000 miles away in Syria, fighting for ISIS.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 2128 GMT (0528 HKT)
If the United States is serious about thoroughly defeating ISIS, it must, somehow, go through Syria.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 1243 GMT (2043 HKT)
Jihadists have kidnapped over 140 Kurdish boys to "brainwash" them. But a few boys made a daring escape.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
Reports that Syrian warplanes carried out a cross-border attack on Iraqi towns is further evidence of the blurring of the two countries' borders.
June 24, 2014 -- Updated 2133 GMT (0533 HKT)
CNN's Atika Shubert speaks to a father whose teenage son joined the Jihad movement in Syria.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 1141 GMT (1941 HKT)
At the start of Syria's civil unrest, Omar would rally against the government alongside his schoolmates, later taking to the streets in his hometown of Salqin.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 2117 GMT (0517 HKT)
Atika Shubert looks at the rise of European jihadists traveling to Syria and whether they soon could join ISIS in Iraq.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
The final stockpile of Syria's chemical weapons has been shipped out of the country, according to the OPCW, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
June 25, 2014 -- Updated 2025 GMT (0425 HKT)
The US isn't doing airstrikes in Iraq. Is there a vacuum for Syria and Iran to step in? CNN's Fareed Zakaria weighs in.
June 10, 2014 -- Updated 0804 GMT (1604 HKT)
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports on Syrian rebels using underground explosions against the better-equipped regime.
June 9, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh returns to the besieged rebel areas of Aleppo, a pale skeleton of a city that has had the life bombed out of it.
June 2, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Syria may be embroiled in a brutal three-year civil war, but that's not stopping the government from holding presidential elections.
June 3, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh meets an ISIS defector in hiding and gets a rare look into the group's recruitment process.
June 5, 2014 -- Updated 1610 GMT (0010 HKT)
Over a thousand Syrian refugees have turned an abandoned shopping mall in Lebanon into makeshift living quarters.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1130 GMT (1930 HKT)
More than 100,000 people reportedly have been killed in Syria since a popular uprising in 2011 spiraled into a civil war.
ADVERTISEMENT