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28 Apr, 2011 06:07

UN fails to agree on Syria statement

UN fails to agree on Syria statement

The UN Security Council has failed to agree on an EU-proposed statement to condemn Syria’s brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters. The talks are to continue on Thursday.

There was no consensus on Wednesday as Russia, China, India and Lebanon, the only Arab country in the council, did not support the statement. Meanwhile, the Syrian Army has deployed more tanks and re-enforcements in the south. More than 450 people have been killed since the protests began over a month ago.Although Russia, China, India and Lebanon admit they are concerned about the Syrian death toll, they are against any active international participation in the internal conflict.Russia says the conflict in Libya requires no external interference, adding the decision could only provoke more violence and destabilize the entire region. According to Russia’s deputy envoy to the UN Aleksandr Pankin, the current situation in Syria, “despite rising tension and confrontation, does not constitute a threat to international peace and safety”. He also noted that it is not only the authorities who are using excessive force, but also the protesters, bringing the country to the verge of civil war. “It is getting quite clear that some of the protesters in Syria and other states hope that more protests will make the international community take their side and help them,” he observed.“Such an approach provokes an endless chain of violence. This is sort of an invitation to civil war,” added Pankin.

Bitter lesson learned through Libya

Judging by such statements it is highly unlikely Russia will support some sort of a no-fly zone over Syria, as it says in the case of Libya the idea was at least supported and called for by the Arab League. There has been a lot of controversy and heated debate around the UN resolution on Libya already. Russia abstained from the vote on imposing a no-fly zone in Libya, and since then has been criticizing the operation led by NATO. Russia points to the fact that the aim of a no-fly zone was to protect civilians, however, they keep dying every day with the military operation going on. Besides, air strikes are targeting Gaddafi’s compounds, although the resolution said the Libyan leader was not the target of the operation. Therefore, Moscow says the coalition does not comply with its mandate and called, along with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on NATO to stay strictly within the limits of the mandate. 

Meanwhile, Middle East experts say Syria cannot be dealt with like other Arab uprisings.James Denselow, a writer on Middle East politics and security, believes the situation in Syria is not ripe for any form of direct military intervention. The more interesting question, according to Denselow, is whether the country, which has withstood various degrees of US sanctions over the past decade, will be deterred by any further international sanctions. “People will be very conscious of the fact that Syria is not Libya, and the fact that if you do decide to intervene in Syria, you will have knock-on effects across the region – in Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine,” he said.    “And this is a scenario the Western powers feel very dubious about – finding themselves sort of neck-deep in,” added Denselow. “I think the Americans would be very conscious of the fact that any pressure they put on Syria today will simply force Syria toward more traditional allies, such as Iran and Russia,” he continued.“So I don’t think the Americans have that on their mind – I think they are far more concerned with their traditional interests in the region,” he concluded.

Political analyst Mikhail Troitsky believes there is no deep division among the UN Security Council members on the situation in Syria, even though there was such a unity for the intervention in Libya.“In the situation with Syria they had to choose between bad and worse”, says Troitsky. “And indeed Syria is located in a much more sensitive region. There are a lot of security issues that are tied to Syria.  And then, secondly, the international community – NATO, some European powers –  are clearly stretched right now with the operation going on in Libya, and that operation is already causing some international concern and objections. That is why, I guess, there’s no clear willingness even on the part of the most enthusiastic nations to intervene in the Syrian conflict”.“At this stage it’s very doubtful that even condemnation of Syria’s government efforts to deal with the unrest could actually lead to a resolution of the UN Security Council to intervene in the country”, he added.

William Engdahl, author of “A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order,” says we cannot say for certain what is actually going on in Syria.“Media reports are being run by Pentagon propaganda journalism,” he said. “The first thing we should do is separate fact from fiction there.”Engdahl also does not believe the conflicts in Syria and in neighboring countries will bring democracy to the Middle East.“What’s going on in that region can be called creative destruction,” he said. Engdahl believes there was no attempt at a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Libya before it escalated.“France and Britain have been arming the opposition to Gaddafi in the hopes of grabbing control of the oil and different parts of Libya,” he stated.According to Engdahl, the Syrian unrest is a destabilizing factor for Israel.“The main question among leading figures in Israel is whether the special relationship with Washington is being reduced in priority,” Engdahl said. “To have the Muslim Brotherhood as the new regime, combined with a similar thing going on in Egypt, adds an element of destabilization that will sweep throughout the Islamic world.”