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Deadlock on Syria: Likely crimes against humanity, but no plan of action

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Secretary Clinton announced she will be attending a “friends of the people of Syria” meeting in Tunis Feb. 24. That meeting, hosted by the Arab League, is expected to address ways of boosting humanitarian assistance to Syria’s besieged civilian population. The Arab League is also proposing an even more problematic UN peacekeeping mission for Syria.

But several hours of meetings did not appear to produce the “road map” for the international community’s involvement in Syria – particularly in addressing a mounting humanitarian crisis – that Mr. Davutoglu had spoken of at the outset of his Washington visit last week.

After the meetings, Clinton said the US would continue to work on tightening international sanctions on the Assad regime and will look for ways to increase delivery of humanitarian assistance in the 10 days before the “friends of Syria’ meeting.

But she offered little hope that the Arab League’s proposal for a peacekeeping force in Syria could attain the Security Council support it would require. “There are a lot of challenges to be discussed as to how to put into effect all of [the Arab League’s] recommendations, and certainly the peacekeeping request is one that will take agreement and consensus,” she said.

Meanwhile at the UN, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told the 193-nation General Assembly that the Security Council’s inability to act on Syria has emboldened the regime of Bashar al-Assad to “launch an all-out assault in an effort to crush dissent with overwhelming force.”

She repeated a demand that the Assad government be referred to the International Criminal Court. “The nature and scale of abuses by the Syrian government indicate that crimes against humanity are likely to have been committed” since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011, she said.

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