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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Page: 6274


Mr FRYDENBERG (Kooyong) (13:50): The government's decision to expel the Syrian charge d'affaires is welcomed. In fact it is an action that could have been taken some time ago. The chilling execution of around 100 women and children in al-Houla just days ago will open a new chapter in this conflict. We know that for the Assads and the nearly 13 per cent of the population who are Alawites this is a fight to the death. But what we do not know is how far Russia and China will go in defending the indefensible. For Russia, Syria provides both a naval base and a big acquirer of its arms, so the strategic and economic imperative weighs heavy. China on the other hand may be more amendable to international pressure to step away from the regime, leaving Russia isolated on the UN Security Council. This is where the international community's immediate energies need to be targeted. So too we must expose Iran's deep military and political ties to the Assad regime and hold them accountable for the atrocities taking place. The Shiite and Sunni split is causing a rift over Syria between Turkey and Iran, the Arab League and Hezbollah, but, at the end of the day, we making up the rest of the international community must fall on the side of the innocents and do what we can to prevent greater bloodshed—a level of bloodshed that has not been seen in Syria since the days of Bashar al-Assad's father, Hafez, who was responsible for slaying more than 20,000 people in 1982 in the town of Hama. If the death of so many children is not a game changer, what will it take? I for one do not want to wait to find out.