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This citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows damaged buildings during battles between the rebels and the Syrian government forces, in Aleppo, Syria, Thursday, June 13, 2013. Syria's upwardly spiraling violence has resulted in the confirmed killings of almost 93,000 people, the United Nations' human rights office said Thursday but acknowledged the real number is likely to be far higher. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center AMC)

The sufferings of the Syrian people resulting from exercising their inalienable right to peacefully challenge their government have reached unprecedented scale in comparison with other countries of the Arab Spring.

Yes, both the government and the opposition are using violent means; however, the people's uprising began as peaceful protest, but the Syrian regime used brutal force to crush the opposition.

The latter saw no other way but to respond to the violence by similar measures. The government is using airplanes, helicopters and missiles against the uprising and inviting Lebanese and Iranian militias, thus destroying the country to maintain power. While the hearts of people of conscience everywhere were bleeding to see the destruction in Qusayr and other Syrian towns, the Lebanese Hezbollah as well as the Iranian leadership were celebrating.

President Barack Obama's administration must exert more influence on the United Nations Security Council, particularly with its permanent members Russia and China, to end the sufferings of the Syrian people.

All indications demonstrate that Russia, supported by China, has become the determining factor in prolonging the Syrian crisis. The reluctance and missteps of the last few months have impacted the Syrian people in unprecedented ways.

Russian demands that the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad should be part of any future arrangements for Syria are contrary to the previously agreed-upon strategy to have a neutral government to conduct free and fair elections.


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Al-Assad's family ruled Syria for more than five decades, and the results of the elections had been know in advance and were always more than 90 percent in favor of the father and later on the son, which clearly demonstrated that there were no democratic elections in Syria under Al-Assad family rule.

Many Americans are concerned that there should be no American troops involved in Syria, and I wholeheartedly agree with that. Since the early 1990s, American troops have been engaged in many combat activities abroad. The political, economic and humanitarian outcomes of such engagements have not always been satisfactory either to the United States or to the peoples of different areas of the world because of the upheavals that have followed such interventions.

But exerting influence and achieving success in foreign policy objectives should not always be brought about through the use of force.

There are other peaceful means to achieve those goals.

Now there are reports that the administration and Russia reached an agreement to convene a Geneva II conference, where the representatives of the Al-Assad regime and the opposition will be invited.

Once again, any arrangements should not lead to the regime in Damascus to conduct elections. A government of technocrats should be established independently from the regime, with three main priorities.

First, to ensure arrangements for a cease-fire, leading to the withdrawal of the Iranian and Hezbollah forces from Syrian, the return of Syrian troops to barracks, and the same applies to the military forces of the opposition.

Second, make immediate arrangements, with the assistance of United Nations Secretariat and specialized agencies for the return of more than 2 million Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and other parts of the world.

Third, begin preparations, in cooperation with the United Nations Secretariat, for truly democratic and free elections in Syria.

The Security Council, with a pledge from Russia and China, shall be involved in the electoral process as observer to ensure respect for the results of the elections.

If Russia and China negate their agreement, then states interested in democratic and peaceful Syria must convene a special meeting of the General Assembly, similar to the case of "United for Peace Resolution," and decide on measures to help the Syrian people end the dictatorship and establish democracy.

There are genuine concerns that the Obama administration is resorting to appeasement policies toward Russia due to many factors. First, Russia is needed in ensuring the orderly withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. Second, Russia is determined to maintain the Assad regime, and the United States does not want to enter into a confrontation with Russia despite the heavy casualties of the Syrian people. Third, there is a fear that extremists will have the upper hand in Syria.

All should be assured that true democracy, respect for human rights and decent government are the main guarantees against extremism.

Amer Araim is an adjunct professor at Diablo Valley College and a former Iraqi diplomat. He is a resident of Walnut Creek.