Maher Arar says Canada, allies need to do more than expel Syrian diplomats

·Politics Reporter

Foreign affairs minister John Baird announced Tuesday, that Canada is joining the international community by expelling its Syrian diplomats, following killings in the town of Houla that took the lives of more than 100 men, women and children.

Nobody is questioning the expulsion, but some are questioning the timing.

Syrian-Canadian Maher Arar -- for one -- is wondering why, 14 months after the start of the uprising and after 13,000 alleged deaths at the hands of the Assad regime, Ottawa is waiting until now to act.

Arar, who was detained and tortured in Syria as a terrorist suspect for more than a year after being extradited by American officials, says Canada is doing "too little too late."

"The Syrian [Canadian] community — at least the majority — have been asking the Canadian government since the last year to expel the Syrian diplomats from the Embassy," he told Yahoo! Canada News in an interview, Tuesday.

"People forget that [the Houla incident] is not the first time children are being slaughtered by the [Assad] regime. People forget that this is what the regime is. So why would Canada wait until now to take this action?"

Arar argues that Canada and the international community is not doing enough. He says the Assad regime is buoyed by the fact that the UN has no appetite to intervene and that its 'peace plan' is essentially a joke.

"Expelling [Syrian] diplomats Canada, from the United States, from Australia, from France, — it will put pressure the regime — no doubt — but it will not stop the killing," he said.

"You see on the internet that people are being killed and slaughtered in front of UN [observers]. The [Assad regime] doesn't care because they know no one will intervene in any meaningful way."

While Arar doesn't support a Libya-style bombing mission in Syria, he says the UN needs thousands - not 200 - observers in Syria who have authority over the government. He is also calling for a UN sanctioned buffer zone - perhaps in Turkey - where Syrian civilians and army deserters can seek refuge.

"What happened in the [Houla] massacre could have been avoided long ago if there was a strong message from the international community," he said.

"This regime has mastered the art of lying, mastered the art of deceiving the international community. But the international community is allowing them to do this."

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