By Li Hongmei, Special to Sina English
Houla massacre unleashed a fresh wave of international outrage to topple al-Assad regime. Facing the mounting multiple pressures, Syrian officials have repeatedly denied government involvement in the massacre that left more than 100 people dead, about half of them children.
Right now, even the international peace envoy Kofi Annan began to doubt whether his six-point plan could anyway be implemented in a country where even the opposition forces are disunited and some even traced to terrorists groups. Mr. Annan expressed his worry on his latest inspection tour in Damascus that Syria is at “the tipping point”.
Nevertheless, Syria’s UN ambassador Jaafari described the talks between al-Assad and Annan as "good," adding that Syria supports his peace plan. But, Jaafari said, other nations must cooperate if peace is to be achieved.
"President Assad reviewed with Kofi Annan the progress that has been achieved by the Syrian government in implementing his plan," Jaafari said. "However, President Assad reminded Mr. Kofi Annan of the necessity to have everybody else committed to respecting his plan and to stop financing and arming and smuggling weapons into Syria."
But, the international space Syrian government could win over has been shrinking. Al-Assad is now cornered, and to ease him out might be the top priority choice for the U.S. president Barrack Obama who is now bent on keeping helm in hand for the next four years.
The first bout of strikes upon Syrian government seems to have commenced, wielding diplomatic stick.
Eleven nations -- the United States, the Netherlands, Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Bulgaria and Canada -- announced Tuesday that they were expelling Syrian diplomats. Turkey joined that list Wednesday, expelling the charge d'affaires and other diplomatic personnel from Syria's embassy in Ankara.
In turn, Syria said Wednesday it was expelling the Dutch charge d'affaires from Damascus, giving her 72 hours to leave the country.
Mr. Jaafari said the diplomatic moves against Syria were not helping the situation. "Sanctions, expulsions of diplomats -- this is not diplomacy," he said. "Diplomacy is totally different."
Russia called the expulsions of Syrian diplomats "counterproductive" and insisted that a U.N. Security Council statement Sunday condemning the incident was "a strong enough signal to the Syria parties."
A central question hanging over the Security Council meeting is what steps Russia and China will countenance. As permanent members, they have veto power, which they have used previously to block two resolutions. Many world leaders assailed the two nations, saying they were preventing steps that could stop the violence. But the two countries said they were seeking more balanced resolutions.
China and Russia spoke out Wednesday against direct military intevention.
"China opposes military intervention and does not support forced regime change," said Liu Weimin, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman. "The fundamental route to resolving the Syrian issue is still for all sides to fully support Annan's mediation efforts and push all the relevant parties to carry out diplomatic dialogue."
"One cannot take decisions on military operations in Syria by being guided by only emotions," said Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Denisov, according to Russian news agency Itar-Tass.
In Washington, State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said U.S. officials were not putting all their hopes into the Annan plan.
"We're also continuing with these other options that we're pursuing, which is support for the opposition, humanitarian assistance, working through the (opposition group) Friends of Syria to increase financial and political pressure on Assad," he said.
The United States announced Wednesday it was sanctioning a Syrian bank that al-Assad's regime was using to circumvent other sanctions. The U.S. Treasury said its action will help isolate the regime.
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Jay Carney took a similar tack: "Right now we believe that, for example, on the issue of providing lethal aid, that that's not the course of action that's the right one to take for this country," he told reporters. "We're providing nonlethal assistance and humanitarian assistance in coordinating with other nations and providing support for the opposition as it forms itself."
After the appalling Houla massacre, a new atrocity came to light, as the head of the U.N. observer mission said 13 bodies were discovered Tuesday night in the area of Assukar, 30 miles east of Deir Ezzor in the eastern part of the country.
All the bodies had their hands tied behind their backs and some appear to have been shot in the head from a short distance," according to a statement from the office of Maj. Gen. Robert Mood.
Mood called the act "appalling and inexcusable" and urged "all parties to exercise restraint and end the cycle of violence."
While no nation, including the U.S., is openly pushing for military action, French President Francois Hollande has said it cannot be ruled out. At the time, it is hard to predict whether air strikes would ensue after the diplomatic strikes.
Thus far, even the God has no idea what to do with the great mess. The U.S. might well be fluctuating over what the “Syria Model” could be, now that it has created so many “models” to be used for reference, namely, “Iraq Model”, “Libya Model”, and “Yemen Model”, which president Obama has shown his special preference to.