Wednesday, February 22, 2012

French President Nicolas Sarkozy Says the Syrian Regime 'Must Go'

Sarkozy is quoted at the New York Times report on the journalists' deaths in Homs, "Two Western Journalists Killed in Syria Shelling":
CAIRO — Syrian security forces shelled the central city of Homs on Wednesday, the 19th day of a bombardment that activists say has claimed the lives of hundreds of trapped civilians in one of the deadliest campaigns in nearly a year of violent repression by the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Among the 20 people that activist groups reported killed, two were Western journalists, the veteran American war correspondent Marie Colvin, who had been working for The Sunday Times of London, and a young French photographer, RĂ©mi Ochlik. The two had been working in a makeshift media center that was destroyed in the assault, raising suspicions that Syrian security forces might have identified its location by tracing satellite signals. Experts say that such tracking is possible with sophisticated equipment.

Activists, civilian journalists and foreign correspondents who have snuck into Syria have infuriated the authorities and foiled the government’s efforts to control the coverage of clashes, which have claimed thousands of Syrian lives in the last year and which Mr. Assad portrays as caused by an armed insurgency.

Quoting a witness reached from neighboring Jordan, Reuters said the two journalists died after shells hit the house in which they were staying and a rocket hit them when they were trying to escape....

Last week, Anthony Shadid, a correspondent for The New York Times, died of an apparent asthma attack in Syria on Thursday after spending nearly a week reporting covertly in the northern area of Idlib, near the Turkish border.

Another activist group said that 27 young men had been killed the day before in that area. Reuters cited a statement from the Syrian Network for Human Rights as saying that most of the men, who were civilians, had been shot in the head or chest on Tuesday in several villages: Idita, Iblin and Balshon in Idlib province near the border with Turkey.

“Military forces chased civilians in these villages, arrested them and killed them without hesitation,” Reuters quoted the organization said in a statement. “They concentrated on male youths and whoever did not manage to escape was to be killed.”

Overall, the United Nations stopped tallying the death toll in the 11-month uprising after it passed 5,400 in January, because it could no longer verify the numbers. Efforts by the Arab League and United Nations to stem the violence have so far had little traction, with Syria’s remaining allies — China, Iran and Russia — continuing to stand by it.

But the latest deaths of journalists, on top of the agonizing civilian toll, focused a new wave of international revulsion and anger on Mr. Assad and the Syria government. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France said the killings showed that “enough is enough, this regime must go. There is no reason why Syrians should not have the right to live their lives, to freely choose their destiny.”
Hey, how about regime change in Syria? I've mentioned it a few times now. It would be extremely messy, and there's obviously no international consensus for it. But if Obama can back the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya he should at least make the case for the same against Bashar al-Assad in Syria. I'd love to hear it.

See my earlier report: "Military Intervention in Syria."