Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin on Monday condemned the “cruel killings” in the Syrian town of Houla, where 108 people were killed on Friday, though he stopped short of echoing the United Nations Security Council in directly placing blame on the Syrian government. From Reuters:
“China feels deeply shocked by the large number of civilian casualties in Houla, and condemns in the strongest terms the cruel killings of ordinary citizens, especially women and children,” Liu told a daily news briefing.
“This incident again demonstrates that an immediate cessation of violence in Syria can brook no delay,” Liu added.
“We call on all sides concerned in Syria to implement the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and Annan’s six-point proposal immediately, comprehensively and thoroughly.”
In a contribution to CNN, Asher Kaufman of the University of Notre Dame writes that the violence in Syria has turned into an “asymmetric civil war” and claims that only China and Russia can end the bloodshed:
The U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan, who is in Damascus, was also careful not to put the blame on any side, again reflecting the political dynamics in the United Nations between supporters and opponents of al-Assad. Annan believes that his six-point plan is still the only workable road map to stop the violence.
Because it is the only plan on the table, Annan is probably correct. But since the conflict in Syria has evolved into a full-fledged civil war, the questions are no longer about political reforms or cooperation between the opposition and the government to stop the violence and rebuild Syria. Rather it is the actual physical survival of al-Assad, his family and his supporters. It is also about a complete overhaul of the power structure that has been in place in Syria for more than 40 years.
Given this bleak reality, the only way to put an end to the violence in Syria is by working with those who support al-Assad’s regime from the outside. Russia and China need to be convinced that it is in their best interest to bring down the regime and that this is the only way to move forward in this crisis. Once this happens, Iran may also be willing to give up on its ally.