By Noor al-Deen al-Dimashqi
The Tremseh massacre is a new episode in a series of ongoing massacres in Syria. The context of this new massacre is very similar to the previous Houla Massacre and Qubair Massacre: preliminary artillery and tank shelling followed with storming the village by pro-Assad Shabiha militia composed mainly from Alawites from neighboring villages.
Tremseh is only 7 km away from Qubair where the Shabiha annihilated an entire village. The first appeal for help was initiated on twitter some hours before the massacre warning Shabiha from al-Safsafeyeh village, the same village that participated in the Qubair massacre, were heading towards Tremseh and that a massacre was feared. These thugs do the dirty work of butchering the civilians. Although these massacres are very similar, one thing is different in the Tremseh Massacre— the use of air force, as Annan himself admitted.
In the previous two massacres in Houla and Qubair, Syrian, Iranian and Russian media started a misinformation campaign to mislead international opinion. They claimed that the killers were Free Syrian Army members, composed mainly from Sunnis, and the victims are Alawites. Being a flimsy allegation, it was refuted in this article. However, it is still unknown how these media will cast the blame on the FSA when Annan has confirmed the use of artillery, tanks and helicopters all of which are owned only by the Assad regime.
Committing these atrocities is not a haphazard action. There are some strong motives to carry them out.
First of all, they are acts of defiance by the side of the Syrian regime. Assad knows that he is protected by the Russian-Chinese veto, and knows also the US and West are taking the Russian-Chinese veto as a pretext not to take any effective measure to stop him; therefore, he is showing carelessness of the condemnations of the international community. There is an Arabic saying which fits perfectly in this context; it means in English, “He whoever feels immune from punishment will misbehave”.
Second, they are parts of sectarian revenge. Most of the units of Army and security forces Assad deploys to quash the uprising are Alawites, and most of the members of the FSA who defend the uprising are Sunnis. Houla, Qubair, and Tremseh are Sunni villages surrounded with Alawite villages. Thus the families of those Alawites who die in the battles would turn to their Sunni neighbors to take revenge for their dead. This is somehow similar to the ‘Sunni Markets’ in Homs in which the Alawites looted the homes of the Sunnis because “Those people support terrorism and we have to finish them off” as Reuters reported one shopper in the Market.
Thirdly and most alarming, they are operations of sectarian cleansing to change the sectarian composition of Orontes river line. The Alawites fear the FSA would be able at the end to topple Assad from Damascus; therefore, they are carrying campaigns to cleanse Sunnis from region across Orontes river in Homs, Suburbs of Hama, parts of Idlib in addition to the coastal regions to establish a separate state for themselves.
Assad forces commit massacres in Syria on a daily basis. Had the international community acted effectively when Houla Massacre was committed, the Qubair and Tremseh massacres, along with other massacres, would not have taken place. What to do right now? The international community has to take effective measures to stop these massacres. Banning Assad from having caviar and cigars, as the European Union did, will not do well. Condemnations are like pain-killers that do not treat the disease. Kofi Annan is a failure; international community must act effectively before the whole region slip into all-exclusive civil war which will engulf Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Turkey. If the international community acts effectively now, no new massacres will take place in the future. Will it?
Noor al-Deen al-Dimashqi is a Syrian writer who writes in Arabic and English. He endeavors to uncover everything Assad regime of Syria is trying to hide from the world. He is an MA holder from Damascus University. Twitter handle: @DamascusTribune Personal blog: http://DamascusTribune.wordpress.com
The author’s opinions are his own.