Last week at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in Tehran, Egypt’s new President Mohammed Morsi smacked down the Syrian regime, right in the heart of one of the Assad regime’s last remaining support centers in the world. Morsi, a member of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, called for members of the NAM to demonstrate solidarity with Syrians oppressed by President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime.
With exception to Tom Friedman, nobody should be too surprised by these developments. The Muslim Brotherhood has an unhappy history with the Assad dynasty. Yesterday, Morsi brought up Syria again at an Arab League conference, calling on Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey to join Egypt in crafting a solution to what has become a full-blown civil war.
Morsi’s proposed quartet, if assembled, promises to bring some very relevant players in the war together.
The Iranian regime has been a key ally of the Assads for decades, and the theocratic country has played a role in helping Bashar al-Assad suppress the uprising from fairly early on. Meanwhile, as Assad clung to power using his state’s instruments of violence, the forces in Syria opposing his rule have become more and more militarized – with help from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.
Unfortunately, Russia and the US appear to be engaged in something of a battle of egos, which is obstructing broader, and perhaps more forceful, diplomatic efforts. Russia supports the dictatorship of Assad, and the US supports rebel forces. Frankly, Russia deserves the bulk of the blame for the failure on that particular diplomatic front.
The conflict has become incredibly violent and the toll is mounting rapidly. Activist groups say around 5,000 people were killed in August and that perhaps around 23,000 to 26,000 people have been killed overall.
On Tuesday the United Nations announced that 100,000 refugees fled from Syria into neighboring countries in August alone. In total, there’s a tally for more than 235,300 refugees from Syria as a result of the war.