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Expulsion of Syrian Chargé d’Affaires

May 29, 2012

Syrian Chargé d’Affaires, Mr Jawdat Ali was this afternoon notified of the Minister’s decision to expel him from Australia in response to the massacre of more than 100 civilians in the village of Haoula.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr said Mr Ali was advised at 4.30pm today that he and one other diplomat from the Syrian Embassy were required to depart the country within 72 hours.

“The Syrian Government can expect no further official engagement with Australia until it abides by the UN ceasefire and takes active steps to implement the peace plan agreed with Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan,” Senator Carr said.

“This massacre of more than 100 men, women and children in Haoula was a hideous and brutal crime.

“The Syrian Chargé has again been advised to convey a clear message to Damascus that Australians are appalled by this massacre and we will pursue a unified international response to hold those responsible to account,”.

Senator Carr said an international response could include referrals to the International Criminal Court and imposing UN sanctions such as an arms embargo as well as financial and travel restrictions on identified individuals and entities.

24 Comments
  1. May 29, 2012 8:06 pm

    Thank you so much for taking action. the world has been prancing around this issue for too long, and oz is making a stand, and for that i say a huge thank you! Good on you Senator Carr, you seem to have a lot more backbone and conviction than most of your colleagues…

  2. May 29, 2012 8:11 pm

    I trust that you, Senator Carr, have given a thorough consideration to every possible way to respond to this hideous crime, as you describe it, before you reach your decision. I would like, as an Australian, to express my full support for your decision. Well done, Sir.

  3. May 29, 2012 9:39 pm

    Good on you Bob. Good on Australia, and don’t let it stop here – everything that can be done to stop the slaughter must be done.

  4. Peter Purss permalink
    May 29, 2012 9:57 pm

    This is indeed a hideous action which appears to have been taken by the Syrian Government.

    It is a time for firm action to be taken by the Australian people and their representatives, but it is not time for our Minister for Foreign Affairs to be gloating over having the courage to tell the Syrian Chargé d’Affaires of our displeasure and to then publicly advertise the matter. Does that display sufficient diplomacy?

    It does not need to be shouted to all and sundry.

    You may be out of your depth Mr Carr.

  5. Harry Burkett permalink
    May 29, 2012 10:03 pm

    Thank you for taking a stand and sending a very clear message to a brutal government.

  6. May 29, 2012 10:20 pm

    Agree. It’s not much, but it’s a start. Hope you can find some bigger asses to kick.

  7. May 29, 2012 10:24 pm

    Good to see some decisive action. The Syrians regime has got to be told that their behaviour towards their own people is reprehensible. When will the international community including the Russians and the Chinese believe there is a duty to protect the Syrian people by throwing the regime over?

  8. May 29, 2012 10:26 pm

    A good move by the government to apply additional pressure on Syria. This is why Australia’s bid for the UN Security Council matters. Foreign Minister Carr’s actions shows why we can and should be a strong voice for human rights and justice in the world. Kindly read our blog on the need for the Houla massacre to be referred to ICC: http://protectiongateway.com/

  9. May 29, 2012 10:29 pm

    I am really of the opinion that expelling chargé d’affaires for Syria will not help. Infact, in the current climate we should be keeping him here as he is our conduit and we are able to keep a close look at what is going on. Keep your friends close but your enemies even closer, or something like that.
    Economic sanctions also seem to hurt the people more than the government. Please don’t punish the people for the sins of their politicians. Please be careful what aid or what kind of relationships you stop
    Getting a result through continued dialogue and negotiations is the only way no matter what terrible things are done. You can’t save the dead now but you can honour their memory by approaching this in a more positive way. It requires lateral thinking not the same thing we have been doing over and over and over. I am of the opinion also that a revolution is needed like we have seen in other countries in that region and Romania.
    There will be more bloodshed before humanity is reached there..

  10. May 29, 2012 10:39 pm

    My father was born in the mid to late 20s and as a Lithuanian he suffered at the hands of Russian communism and so did his other family members whom he last saw as a child. He also saw the rise of Hitler from the Berlin Olympics (summer holiday visit with his father) through to the devastation he caused in Europe. We never seem to learn the lessons of the past, we are too caught up in insignificant issues. While we can not let this tragedy continue as Australians we need to seek new and innovative ways to get Syria onside.
    We do not want to be the irritant that causes more bloodshed and more reasons for Assad to be more stubborn and more hard line.
    To quote a famous politician: Let us move from the era of confrontation to the era of negotiation.
    Richard M. Nixon

  11. patrick connor permalink
    May 29, 2012 11:12 pm

    Bob Carr : I greatly enjoy your informative blog

  12. John Mountbatten permalink
    May 30, 2012 12:15 am

    Well Done Bob. It’s only symbolic of course but as a co-ordinated first step it sends the right sort of signal.

  13. May 30, 2012 1:50 pm

    The mass expulsion of Christians from Homs – by rebels when that city was substantially under their control – failed to attract any criticism from this so-called Christian nation – see for instance http://www.rescuechristians.org/2012/03/25/syria-islamists-have-expelled-90-percent-of-christians-in-homs/

    Yet Australia has – yet again – joined what is clearly an orchestrated attempt to put further pressure on the Syrian Government before there’s any hard evidence it was responsible for this latest massacre in Houla.

    There are, in fact, string grounds for suspecting this is another set-0up designed to discredit the Assad Government. Consider – why would the Government slaughter children inthe most gruesome manner – then withdraw and allow ‘activists’ to put the images on Youtube the same day?

    Cui bono, Senator Carr? See – http://resistance-episteme.tumblr.com/post/23923639326/why-it-is-highly-unlikely-the-syrian-regime-was-behind

    Incidentally – have we managed to find ANY of the ~40 thugs who rampaged through the Syrian Embassy in Canberra in early February, terrorizing the staff? Not according the the AFP. Are we actually trying to find the culprits? Or is the Australian Government simply on the side of the most powerful – whatever their ethics and however disgraceful their behaviour?

    That’s how it seems to me. Very sad indeed…

  14. patrick connor permalink
    May 30, 2012 8:18 pm

    Bob : The question of who is responsible for for the Houla massacre is being debated hotly , & seems to depend upon whose propaganda you listen to .

    Comments to Antony Loewenstein’s blog article “On the massacre in Houla , Syria” (29/5/12) mentions your name – one hoping that you have viewed the vidio of General Wesley Clark (ex-Chief of NATO forces) , in March 2007 , with Amy Goodman .
    There is said to be plenty of healthy scepticism as to who are the real perpetrators .

    You , our own Prime Minister & the Opposition are as one , despite a seeming lack of evidence .

    • Bob Carr permalink*
      May 31, 2012 4:08 pm

      Stop the shooting and enter a dialogue with the opposition and allow media access ( all recommended in the Annan Peace Plan ) and the truth will emerge.

      • Syrian with real concern permalink
        June 2, 2012 6:48 pm

        1. The Annan peace plan and cease fire allows to government to respond to opposite violence it simply asks that all permanently stationed soldiers and artillery be moved out of civilian areas.

        2. Who or what is the opposition exactly? Many of the opposition groups sitting outside Syria demand Assad leave before they talk so how would dialogue work?

        3. If this move was a sign to show Syria you will not stand by the Massacre, who exactly do you blame for the massacre? It is hard to believe a government would be stupid enough to massacre 100 or so people who support them? Whilst the UN in their country and the day before UN summit about them? Close range execution style including some cut to death just left in the street isn’t constant with your interviews where you describe shelling being a cause. ( Houla is a very pro government area and generaly seen as aligned with religious sect of Bashar, Victims found were wearing pro government accessories on their bodies).

        4. You say you wish to “pursue a unified international response to hold those responsible to account” but you didn’t wait for any official reports from lets say the UN which is a pretty unified and international body to see what they find. UN General Moon on the ground wasn’t even confident enough to lay blame on the government. You acted hastily like a political shock jocky. It is this sort of behavior which proves Australia is far from ready to ever occupy a seat on the UN Security Council.

        5. If a UN reports comes out which holds responsible to massacre to opposition of the government will you 1. re instate the Charge d’Affaires 2. Finally accept the so called opposition in Syria is not willing to conduct talks and condemn them and hold them responsible for their actions? ( I don’t believe the report will yield these results but just a thought)

        6. You are asking for elections but their have already been 3 separate elections for different levels. The results were very much in line with the general support seen for the government. The turnout rivaled that of the UK so an explanation about why we should consider these results invalid would be good please.

        7. Consider mine and 6 family members lost members of the Labor party, Our membership cards have been trashed and i have sent a letter requesting we no longer be members or counted as members of such a party.

  15. May 31, 2012 2:40 am

    It seems a curious double standard, on one hand Senator Bob Carr insists on due process for Craig Thomson – rightly as in my view Mr Thomson was set up – and then immediately flips around and condemns the Syrian government without the slightest shred of evidence they were responsible.

    We have a precedent in Libya when in March 2011 rebels filmed a massacre scene in Al Baida which they blamed on Gaddafi but that later turned out to have been performed by themselves. So why then not at least wait for an investigative report before deciding on responsability? Is it not odd that this massacre should have happened at the exact same time as an identical looking massacre in the Alawite village of al-Shoumarieh?

    If we acquiese to the murder of children – concealing the guilty party because politically that is our preferred outcome – aren’t we morally partly culpable for the murder of these children? And don’t we make the future large scale of murder of children that much more likely?

    What sort of person can take on their conscience and yet sleep so peacefully, Senator Carr?

    • Bob Carr permalink*
      May 31, 2012 4:05 pm

      The solution: accept a ceasefire and hold UN supervised elections.

      • June 11, 2012 11:30 pm

        I like this idea. I hope it can work.

      • June 12, 2012 11:02 am

        Senator Carr, There is not a chance in Hades of it working if those arming the mercenaries and ‘rebels and carrying out the massacres are not brought into line. And who is going to bring them into line, when they are allies of NATO and Australia? Also, there is no chance of a ceasefire until those bloodcurdling calls for the killing of ‘heretics’ in Syria as well as peace loving moderates who support peaceful reform are not brought to the public’s attention. Is your office prepared to condemn the fatwas of Sheik Qaradawi or the calls to kill in the most gruesome ways by Adnan Arour? If not, you are not interested in peace. And the reality of the ideological aspect of the conflict will impact on Australia one day for all of us, not just the Arabic Australian communities today.
        http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/302261/report-rebels-responsible-houla-massacre-john-rosenthal
        http://socratesandsyria.com/2012/06/05/hello-world/

  16. patrick connor permalink
    May 31, 2012 11:58 pm

    Bob :
    Thanks for the civil answer . But I am still complaining that my country , Australia , has already blamed the Syrian government – as though the truth (as you put it) has ALREADY emerged .

  17. fanoin permalink
    June 2, 2012 6:07 pm

    Minister Carr, I have searched and searched daily on this subject and my research continues to show that the Syrian Government has been offering dialogue with ‘the opposition’ (which you fail to define in its many and varied manifestations) for over a year and has accepted the ceasefire as brokered by UN Special Envoy Annan. Conversely the opposition refuses both dialogue and ceasefire. Annan himself clearly refers to this fact, but somehow you miss it. The perpetrators of Al Houla massacre must be named. The perpetrators of bombing, pillaging, abduction, extortion, rape, murder, and intimidations of entire communities (the Christians of Homs, for example) must also be named. You would serve those slaughtered better by focusing on all wrong doers and not just the one, Bashar Al Assad, whom you have decided to replace. It is morally bankrupt to ignore the truth of the situation in favour of a political outcome expedient to Australia and her allies. It demonstrates to me, and every Syrian with whom I speak, how little Australia cares for those children and all the other dead and injured.

  18. June 2, 2012 11:19 pm

    Dear Mr Carr,

    Your responses to points made to critics above display a lack of knowledge of the complexity of the situation in Syria and the lengths the ‘enemies’ of Syria will go to in order to destroy what they see as a ‘heretical regime’. What has been missing in the Australian media (and your comments) is a thorough discussion of many elements contributing to the crisis. For example:

    1. The role of Saudi Arabia. Why does it want to destroy Syria? Is it because it sees it as one way of prolonging the life of its monarchy or is it because it is one way of spreading Wahhabism? More importantly, what has led Australia to be allied with Saudi Arabia against a government and country whose people enjoy more social freedoms than virtually any other people in the ME? How will the spread of Wahhabism help the lives of Syrian women? Or do we consider this question insignificant because of more important loyalties – “all the way with the US and Tel Aviv” no matter what the consequences for 22 million innocent people?

    2. The role of Qatar. Has Qatar’s wealth gone to the head of its emir/monarch and his family? It and Saudi Arabia are the two Gulf countries intent on destroying Syria, having committed vast amounts of money to the task with arms and ‘war propaganda’. Qatar and Saudi Arabia are the only two ‘Wahhabi’ states. Shouldn’t it be questioned why they happen to share such an intense dislike of Syria? Or if not of Syria, of the president who is committed to maintaining a secular state and who, many Syrians believe, is committed to reform? Commentators damn secular Syria based on what? Reports from Al-Jazeera, the media outlet now controlled by the emir and a voice for Qatar’s foreign policy? Highly regarded journalists have resigned from Al-Jazeera in protest against its propagandising of the Arab Spring, particularly in regard to Bahrain and Syria. Many of Al-Jazeera’s reports have been shown to be based on false witnesses or fabricated videos. (check the story of Sari Saoud, the young boy killed in Homs last year reported on Al-Jazeera as a victim of soldiers. His story is just one of thousands – victims of militias in Syria.)

    3. What is the ‘ideology’ which prompts people to kill for ‘freedom’ in Syria? Freedom from what? If you say the “Alawi regime” I suggest you examine the background of the members of parliament, the ministry, and the top security and military officers. “Freedom” for Syrian women, perhaps? If that is your answer, perhaps you should check the videos of sermons by Sheik Qaradawi . ‘Freedom’ from violence? Again check the sermons of the sheiks that inspire the armed insurgency.

    4. It’s been suggested by some commentators that it seems to be the time for a Sunni resurgence and if that is what the people of the ME want, so be it. But that is assuming there is one ‘Sunni’ mind set, something which is far from true. Check the number of ministers and members of parliament in Syria who are Sunni. Check the footage of rallies showing support for the president – every woman in a hijab could be assumed to be Sunni and many of those without would be as well. An imam in Midan, a religiously conservative part of Damascus, was assassinated earlier this year; his crime: he preached peaceful reform. The son of the Mufti of Syria was assassinated along with his university professor. His crime: his father is a peace maker (militant members of the opposition would use other language to describe him; “a regime stooge”, perhaps.) One Damascene was assassinated after standing in the council elections last year; he was a Sunni. There are whirling dervishes in Syria; Islam in Syria has been influenced by Sufism for hundreds of years. Are the battle lines simple ones as most commentators suggest?

    5. In an interview on the ABC you justified your decision to expel Mr Jawdat Ali (who I understand is a Sunni, by the way) by saying we have a ‘responsibility to protect’ (Gareth Evans’ rhetoric). I was expecting you would add that we have a responsibility to protect peace-loving Syrians from the Saudi arms dealer Bandar Bin Sultan;from the cleric Adnan Arour, who since 2011 has been encouraging his loyal followers to kill Alawis and any one else who supports the government and to mince up their bodies; from Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi who has said on Al-Jazeera it is ok to kill 1/3 of the Syrian population if that is necessary to rid Syria of its ‘heretical’ government; from the jihadists who have rushed from various parts of the world to take part in the killing sprees; from the suicide bombers coming from Saudi Arabia and other countries sure that they are right to oppose this government because everyone else in the world does (even Bob Carr and Bob Brown); from the Salafi jihadists in Lebanon who have declared the Syrian government a target (BTW it was a group of Salafis who murdered the Italian activist in Gaza early last year); from all those at demonstrations who have chanted “Send Christians to Beirut and Alawis to their graves” (it is clear how you can send someone to their grave, but how can you force someone out of their country?). From Al-Qaeda. Shouldn’t we feel a ‘responsibility to protect’ people in Syria from all of the above? The Syrians who are the witnesses to the devastation of the bombs yell their anger at the cameras and curse Saudi Arabia, Qatar, America and Qaradawi. Maybe they know more than us.

    6. Amnesty US is headed by Suzanne Nossel who used to be a State Department official and sidekick of Holbrook, US representative in the UN. She wrote a paper called ‘smart power’, which outlines what the US can get for itself without appearing to be heavy handed in a George Bush way. Could this explain the partisan stand Amnesty has taken from the beginning of the crisis in Syria and its refusal to report the killings of three children on 17 April 2011,and that of three farmers the same month (they are the deaths I know have been reported to Amnesty by people in Melbourne.)

    7. Maybe you are a follower of Robert Fisk, so you trust him to do all the research necessary to understand Syria. The fact that he is a follower of Walid Jumblatt who is notorious for his opportunism and who has now chosen to support Saad Hariri and Samir Gea Gea should indicate where his articles are going to go. (By the way, Gea Gea, a Lebanese ‘Christian’ was imprisoned for a bomb attack on a church which killed many people in the congregation; the attack was carried out in order to place blame on Muslims. That is the sort of action which happens when the most unscrupulous wish to destroy their perceived ‘enemies’.)

    8. You support tighter sanctions against Syria. Have you considered that more economic pressures will cause even greater trauma and stress for ordinary people and it may mean some ‘give up’ and in desperation become mercenaries, paid to kill by Qatar and Saudi Arabia and perhaps trained by the CIA or French forces (check Wikileaks cables)?

    9. No doubt your history teachers and lecturers encouraged you to check many different sources, to ask many questions, before you drew conclusions, and often it was expected that those conclusions would have unanswered questions. Major-General Mood, the head of the UN observer team in Syria, has said the situation surrounding the massacre in Houla was ‘murky’ and “Whatever I learned on the ground in Syria…. is that I should not jump to conclusions.” Yet, those so far away present such simplistic certainty.

    There is so much more that could should be said about the crisis in Syria. It is not being said in our media, nor by our politicians. I hope at least it is recorded on blogs for people to consider and as a resource for future students of international relations and war. Lindsay Tanner has written about the ‘dumbing down’ of our democracy. The people of Syria are victims of this.

    If you publish this on your blog, I thank you. It is my wish that journalists begin to ask you some of the tough questions that need to be asked. That we in Australia act in a manner befitting a peace loving people.

    Regards,

    Susan Dirgham

    http://susandirgham.wordpress.com/

    http://pool.abc.net.au/media/syria-questions-must-be-asked-and-answered

  19. fanoin permalink
    June 21, 2012 5:19 pm

    Minister Carr, please read this report on Agenzia Fides about the Christian experience in Syria today and comment on your blog – or better still to the mainstream press. http://www.fides.org/aree/news/newsdet.php?idnews=31658&lan=eng

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