News / Middle East

UN Security Council Again Considers Syria Resolution

The US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice (file photo)
The US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice (file photo)
Margaret Besheer

European nations on the U.N. Security Council moved to turn up pressure on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Monday, circulating a revised draft resolution condemning his government’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.  

The Security Council has been deeply divided on how to respond to the violence in Syria since it began four and a half months ago.

The European members of the council - Britain, France, Germany and Portugal - brought a draft resolution before the council in April, but it faced strong opposition from veto-wielding members Russia and China, as well as Brazil, India and South Africa.  It never made it to a vote.

Lebanon, which also sits on the council, is in the awkward position of having a pro-Syrian government in power and would be unlikely to vote for any resolution condemning the crackdown.

But in light of intensified and deadly government offensives on several cities during the last two days preceding the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the European council members hoped that those who had opposed a strong U.N. response would now support it.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said the Obama administration has supported European efforts in the council during the past three months to get a resolution adopted.

“Given recent developments, we think it is very important that the council be clear and forceful in condemning what has transpired and the violence against the Syrian people," said Rice.

The United States has repeatedly condemned the violence in Syria and administration officials say Washington could impose further unilateral sanctions on the Assad government, this time targeting Syria's important oil and gas sector.  On Monday, the European Union expanded its sanctions against Syria, imposing asset freezes and travel bans against five more military and government officials.

A European diplomat said the Security Council must act in the strongest way, meaning through a resolution.  The diplomat added that the council’s silence has encouraged the Assad government continue its repression.  He also expressed concerns that that could have implications for regional stability.

Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, who took over the rotating presidency of the 15-member council on Monday, said members received a briefing from the U.N.’s deputy political chief on the situation in Syria and then held their own discussions, which he characterized as “encouraging.”  He added that he detected a “certain convergence of thinking" and "concern about the escalating violence.”  The Indian ambassador said the council would meet again on Tuesday morning, after members had received instructions from their capitals, to discuss the proposed European text.

Russia, which has been one of the council members opposed to a resolution, still appeared to be hesitant about what form any action should take.  Ambassador Vitaly Churkin called a resolution “somewhat excessive” and said Moscow would consider a presidential statement from the council “satisfactory.”

Churkin told reporters that he and other council members are still concerned about opening the door to possible military action, similar to the situation in Libya.

“We are very strongly against, and have taken a very strong and clear position - and thankfully supported by a number of members of the Security Council - that to go down the Libyan road would have a dramatic and catastrophic consequences for Syria and for the region," said Churkin.

But U.S. Ambassador Rice said that council members who say they are shying away from action on Syria because of events in Libya are making excuses.

“That is a canard," she said. "Frankly, in my opinion it, has been an excuse by those that don't want to confront what is happening in Syria.  There has never been in any of the drafts that the Europeans have circulated anything that should remind anybody of Libya for good or ill.”

Although some Security Council members have appeared to soften their rhetoric on a response in light of recent events, other diplomats say what they are hearing in public is not what they are hearing behind closed doors.   

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid