In this March 2012 file photo, protests in Syria carry on despite the crackdown by the government's security forces.
Yesterday [MON], the United Nations released a report of its investigation into the Syrian conflict. After last month’s declaration that both the government and the rebels have been committing war crimes, the investigators have now concluded that the situation is growing exponentially worse.
The Syrian government has been found to engage in more atrocities than the rebels, by focusing attacks on centers with high populations and targeting women and children. The investigators also found evidence of “militant jihadists” from foreign countries inserting themselves into the rebel uprising, which experts worry could lead to further escalation and a larger regional conflict. Other countries in the region are not taking the situation lightly, as Egypt’s new leader President Mohamed Morsi is reaching out to Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia as a means to initiate a brokering of peace in Syria.
While these countries are not traditional allies (Iran and Egypt broke ties after the Iranian Revolution of 1979), there is a definite sense that it will take a concerted effort of Mideast countries, and a lack of Western political presence, to achieve an end to the bloodshed in Syria. These countries are perfectly poised to be such players, as Turkey and Saudi Arabia are the biggest supporters of the Syrian rebels, while Iran has backed the Assad government. And with Egypt coming off of its own democratic revolution and Morsi attempting to define the early days of his presidency, the country is in a unique position of power in the region.
Will the four countries be able to influence an end to the Syrian conflict? What is the reaction of the United States to this news? What other specifics were included in the U.N. investigation? How is Syria affecting its neighboring countries?
Danielle Pletka, Vice President, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute
Joshua Landis, director, Center for Middle East Studies, University of Oklahoma