Ongoing violence in Syria raises questions about UN monitoring team

While blue-helmeted members of the United Nations monitoring team visited several cities in Syria on Monday, more than 70 people were killed in violence.

Speaking before a Senate hearing recently, Brookings Institute fellow Tamara Cofman Wittes acknowledged the difficulty facing US policymakers.

“Still, the path of coercive diplomacy remains the only alternative to an escalation in violence on the ground that would have dire humanitarian consequences, and would present the danger of spiraling instability in Syria’s already-volatile neighborhood,” she testified.

Such “coercive diplomacy” was pursued again on Monday as the US imposed sanctions on major telecom firms in countries who permit recording cellphone calls, monitoring Internet traffic and employing other technological tools to “facilitate grave human rights abuses.” It was President Obama, not a senior official, who unveiled the sanctions during an event at the National Holocaust Museum.

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