Violence in Homs intensifies after blocked resolution on Syria
Syrian forces escalated an offensive with fierce shelling on Homs on Monday, killing at least 15 people and allegedly targeting a field hospital in the Baba Amr district. The crackdown, which had severely intensified in Homs between Friday and Saturday, was reported as the deadliest day since the uprisings began last March with over 200 reported dead by activists. Shortly thereafter, the United Nations Security Council brought a resolution on Syria to a vote that was vetoed by Russia and China, on the grounds that it would be picking a side in what could amount to a civil war. President Bashar al-Assad's regime extolled the decision, claiming it will strengthen its pursuit to stomp out the opposition in efforts to "restore what Syrians had enjoyed for decades." International governments that were in support of the resolution were outraged by the veto, fearing Assad will use it as justification for the crackdown, with Human Rights Watch warning Syria not to use the veto "as a green light for even more violence." Russia condemned the reactions as "indecent and bordering on hysteria."
- Hamas and Fatah agreed to a unity deal with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas set to head the interim government until elections can be held in the West Bank and Gaza.
- The United States has threatened to suspend $1.3 billion in annual aid after Egypt announced it will try 43 NGO workers, including 19 Americans, on charges of violating foreign funding laws.
- Egyptian security forces and protesters continue to clash in Cairo, concentrating outside the interior ministry
- President Obama said the U.S. is working with Israel to prevent Iranian attainment of nuclear weapons; meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu warned his officials to stop "blabbing" about a possible strike.
An Egyptian protester challenges riot policemen outside Cairo's security headquarters on February 6, 2012 during ogoing clashes in the wake of deadly football violence and amid calls by activists for civil disobedience in Egypt (MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images).
Arguments & Analysis
'Syria is used to the slings and arrows of its friends and enemies' (Robert Fisk, The Independent)
"The battle for survival is a terrible thing and Bashar al-Assad still appears to believe that he can squeeze through his mass of proposed reforms before the disintegration of Syria. No one outside Syria appears to believe he will be successful. But there is one unasked question. Just suppose the regime did survive. Over what kind of Syria would it rule?"
'Arab Spring economies: unfinished business' (The Economist)
"Many local businessmen hope that new governments can dispel the gloom. Alas, ministers are preoccupied. Egypt, Libya and Tunisia all face fiscal crises. Tackling them is the first order of business for new ministers. Egypt is the worst off. Its foreign-currency reserves have dwindled, from $36 billion to $10 billion in the past year, and an inflation-inducing devaluation is looming. The government is struggling to finance a budget deficit of 10% of GDP. In January the government managed to sell only a third of a planned $580m bond offering, even though it will be paying yields close to 16%."
'The next fight in Egypt and Tunisia will be among the Islamists' (Jane Kinninmon, Chatham House)
"Ultimately, supporters of democracy in the Arab world should be concerned about any political actors that are intolerant, anti-democratic, violent and sectarian. These worries are neither unique nor specific to Islamist movements. Certainly, recent history provides few promising models of states run by Islamists; the current focus of many Arab Islamists on the so-called "Turkish model" may have less to do with the merits of Turkey itself than with the useful contrast it presents with Iran, Pakistan, Sudan, or Taliban-era Afghanistan. On the other hand, for Islamists, governments like those of Syria, Iraq and Tunisia have earned secularism a bad name. The vague, catch-all term Islamist belies the diversity of movements that seek to draw inspiration, values and legitimacy from Islam. There are enormous differences in thinking both between different Islamist groups, and within them. Crucially, this diversity is likely to increase as a result of the new-found political opening in the Arab world."