France, UK pressure Syria through UN Security Council
Following two hours of closed-door consultations within the UN Security Council, France and the UK did not garner enough support for a resolution they introduced on Syria.
Discussions at the UN will continue over the next few days, as the UK and France continue campaigning for support.
The draft resolution – which calls on Damascus to stop using violence against protestors, demands those responsible for civilian casualties be held accountable, and allows for humanitarian aid to be sent to Syria – will be presented to the UN Security Council.
The draft also urges other countries not to supply weapons to Damascus.
The resolution already has support from Germany and Portugal, British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday.
“If anyone votes against that resolution or tries to veto it, that should be on their conscience," he added.
Earlier on Monday, French Foreign minister Alain Juppe said the UN cannot just silently watch as the situation develops there. He believes reforms in Syria “are dead” and that President Bashar Assad has no right to rule the country anymore.
Russia and China, both veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council, said they would oppose a resolution on Syria.
“The international community is drowning in [the Libyan situation]. That’s why regarding Syria we believe that solutions through several political channels must be found rather than conditions for sliding into a new armed conflict be made,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.
Over two months, Syria has been facing increasingly violent protest against Assad’s regime, with the government responding with tough actions. Activists accuse the government of brutality and crimes against its own people, while the government says the riots have been sponsored from abroad and are mostly ignited by armed bandits.
Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin believes diplomacy should be used for solving political problems not creating conditions for new armed conflict. Passing more and more resolutions puts the international community in a position where it is picking sides within an internal conflict.
“There is concern over interfering in Syrian affairs, mainly due to escalation of violence because it may be misinterpreted by the destructive opposition forces who are in change of power in Damascus,” he said. “Such a position will definitely lead to more bloodshed and an escalation of violence and it’s important to avoid that. Dialogue is needed. And we remember that in Libya it also started with defending human rights, which ended up with the war led by the coalition”.
The UN resolution on Libya was followed by the military intervention by the US and its allies. Investigative journalist Michel Collon believes it is important to consider why the US wants to overrule the governments in Libya and Syria.
“It’s because these two regimes have been for a long time opposed to the domination of the United States in the Middle East, opposed to the Israeli colonialism. It has been demonstrated recently, also in the Washington Post, that all these groups and opposition media were financed by the US themselves, by the CIA, the National Endowment for Democracy,” said Collon.
Meanwhile, “the resolutions are only a way to increase the tension and to prepare indeed future aggressions,” he added.
Political analyst Lajos Szaszdi doubts the potential for military intervention in Syria so long as Russia and China use their veto power.
In addition, he argued, Russia and China should not express in “any uncertain terms, either publicly or behind the scenes to any power willing to intervene, that they won’t stay aside and that there might be consequences, leaving the issue open.”
IAEA considering nuclear resolution on Syria
Meanwhile, the US and its allies are preparing a separate draft resolution, which would expresses “serious concern” over the countries’ lack of cooperation with “repeated requests for access” by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, to information about its Dair Alzour facility, AP reports. The document was circulated on Wednesday to the 35 ministers on the IAEA's board of governors. It needs majority approval to be sent to the UN Security Council.
The facility had been destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in September 2007, because the IAEA said it suspected that it was a nuclear reactor under construction, which Damascus failed to report. Syria denied the allegations and said that radioactive uranium isotopes, found by an IAEA inspection in 2008, contaminated the site after the bombing.
War correspondent and columnist Eric Margolis believes the second resolution being prepared by the IAEA is just a way of putting further pressure on Damascus.
“The UN, and particularly the Security Council, as former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright said, is an ‘arm of US foreign policy,’” he said. “And the US is using it to squeeze the Syrians, hopeful maybe to push out the Assad machine. And this is not right. The balance has been lost in the UN, it is supposed to be the mediator, not the instigator.”
Earlier on Monday, Russia’s IAEA governor Grigory Berdennikov told Itar-Tass news agency that Russia would be against the draft resolution, due to its biased wording and bad timing.
“A few days ago Syrians sent the IAEA a letter saying they are ready to cooperate. Instead of approving such a move… we suggested this condemning resolution, which can spoil it all. We do our best to convince the Americans, that it’s a wrong path, that it’s counterproductive,” he commented.
Azzam Tamimi, director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought, believes foreign intervention in Syria would not be a positive development.
“We’ve seen all this happen in Libya. Without a doubt, the Syrian people need to rid themselves of the regime that has persecuted them for many years. But foreign intervention is hardly going help resolve the problem for the Syrian people,” stated Tamimi.
Tamimi said France and Britain may want to impose sanctions on Syria and are sure to find a proper justification for doing so.
“If they decide to impose sanctions, the justification for the sanctions will not be the manner in which the Syrian regime has been dealing with the uprising and the demonstrators, but rather the nuclear project the Syrians have allegedly been involved in,” he declared.