Jackie Victoria, Contributing Writer
Valentine’s Day marked the eleventh day of the Syrian government’s ongoing attack on the central, civilian city of Homs, which is still underway. The Arab League has tried tirelessly to convince the United Nations to dispatch peacekeeping troops into the unstable nation. All the while, the Syrian government is trying to mend things with lukewarm referendums. In addition to the violence in Homs, the city of Hama, which is just north of Homs and the fourth largest in Syria, has recently been under fire from the government.
The UN held an unusual General Assembly on February 13 with the sole purpose of alleviating the Syrian conflict. Even though the Arab League and most of the West support resolutions to stop the violence, Russia continually shoots down any proposals to usurp the current dictatorship, because of the concerns that it might warrant outside military intervention similar to that of Libya last year. Despite obstacles, the Arab League did manage to propose a joint peacekeeping force in Syria. However, the support the Arab League planned to receive from the West turned out to be reluctant at best. Russia and China both vetoed a resolution that urged the stepping down of Syria’s leader, President Bashar al-Assad, to step down.
The people of Homs fear the worst for the days to come. Since February 4, the city has been shelled to isolated, causing many to try and flee the city despite the closed roads and shells coming down around them. The only reports available from a city with little to no electricity and phone service come from occasional grainy Youtube videos and citizens who bribe soldiers to transport them out of city bounds. Those who must stay conserve heating fuel and layer clothing in order to make it through the cold weather. On calmer days, food stores open and residents stock up on rice and sugar.
Opponents of the uprising proposed an amendment to Syria’s recent constitution which would allow for multiparty elections. Opposition figures called for referendums near the start of the rebellion, and recently, their demand has risen and insurrection leaders call for nothing short of removing President Bashar al-Assad completely. The president has recently expedited the vote on the amendment, moving it up to February 26. The draft proposes the first term limit on the presidency in 40 years, setting the maximum at two seven year terms in office.