The Obama administration expelled Syria's top diplomat from the U.S. on Tuesday, joining an international effort to isolate the country's government following last week's massacre of more than 100 villagers in the Houla region. United Nations envoy Kofi Annan, who brokered a widely ignored ceasefire between the Syrian regime and rebels, called the killings the "tipping point," urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to take "bold steps" to end the violence, and then left the country on Wednesday. Will the increased diplomatic pressure help to finally push Assad out of power and stop the Syrian military's attacks against civilians?
Kicking out diplomats accomplished nothing: This diplomatic slap on the wrist won't do any good, says David Atkins at Hullabaloo. "The Assads of the world couldn't care less what anyone thinks of them as long as they don't feel personally threatened." It's time for President Obama and other foreign leaders to "stop the pretenses at outrage" and actually do something to force Syria to stop the murders. Otherwise they might as well just quit pretending they care.
Diplomatic pressure can help ... if it's directed at Russia: Obama isn't the one being feckless, says David Ignatius at The Washington Post. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Assad's last foreign friend, is the one blocking tougher international action against the Syrian regime. The world should turn up the heat on Putin, not Assad, because if the Russian leader joins the diplomatic push, the Syrian regime might buckle. And if he refuses, "the blood of future massacres is on Russia's hands."
"Syria: The blood of future massacres is on Russia's hands"
But this at least tightens the noose on Assad: The coordinated pressure is just one part of the growing "storm of diplomatic protest" against Assad, says David Blair at Britain's The Telegraph. If the massacres don't stop, Annan might explicitly declare the ceasefire he brokered to have failed. If that happens, Assad will really start feeling the heat, as some nations "would consider tightening sanctions on Syria, while some countries would choose to arm the regime's enemies."
"Syrian diplomats expelled in coordinated Western action"