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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid