|The BBC graph shows death toll rising by all counts|
|Death count breakdown by "Syrian Shuhada"|
Newswires and international media continue to parrot the old United Nations line, “The UN estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians have been killed in Syria” since the uprising.
The problem is that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva stopped producing estimates last December because verifying the roll had become too difficult.
A current graph featuring in a BBC News feature, titled “Syria crisis: Counting the victims,” shows differences in Syria casualty estimates ranging from a government low of some 6,000 to a high of 15,000 by activists’ networks.
One reliable opposition website, referred to by some branches of the UN, Syrian Shuhada (Syrian Martyrs), puts the number of civilians and military killed at 16,014 in 448 days up to June 7, 2012.
Syrian Shuhada breaks down its death count by province, city, day, week, month, gender, age and surname. It documents the killing of 2,663 people – including 240 children and 251 women – since joint special envoy Kofi Annan’s proposed April 12 ceasefire.
Tariq Alhomayed, editor-in-chief of the Saudi daily Asharq Alawsat, today takes Annan to task for effectively giving Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “an extra opportunity to kill” by failing to unequivocally notify the UN Security Council of the collapse of his six-point plan and his mission.
Had he done that, he would have opened the way for ending the Syrian people’s hemorrhage either trough UN-mandated military action or a “coalition of the willing” against the regime
Instead, Alhomayed writes, Annan’s idea of a so-called “Contact Group” actually invites the Iranians, Russians and Chinese to partake in the “Syrian bazaar” and gives “the tyrant a new opportunity” to keep killing.
Hazem Saghieh, political editor of the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat, says Annan’s mission having breathed its last the choice henceforth is between “outside intervention and civil war.”
The Houla and Qubair massacres make an open-ended civil war more likely for showing that:
- For the regime, holding on to power is do or die
- Post-Ottoman Syrian society is deeply disjointed
- Clamorous condemnations fed to public opinion and the media are simply meant to “mask regional and international apathy.”
With a “political solution” in Syria now defunct, says Saghiyeh, unremitting “regional and international apathy” turns into “a crime.”
Massacres such in Houla and Qubair risk becoming a daily occurrence and escalating militarism and sectarianism make unrestricted civil strife inevitable.
Outside intervention is imperative – “not only to oust a murderous regime” but also “to keep Syria governable” by any side in future.
Outside intervention can additionally reprieve Lebanon and Iraq, where hatreds and sectarian divisions are rampant. Sectarian flames in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq risk encircling the oil-rich rich northern Gulf as well.
Saghieh tells opponents of outside intervention it is civil war that nurtures Islamist bigots rather than the other around. Likewise, outside intervention can shield ethnic and religious minorities instead of them becoming civil war victims.