News

UN Security Council to Focus on Syria Aid, Arab Spring

Free Syrian Army fighters take cover during fierce fighting against government troops in Idlib, north Syria, March 10, 2012.
Free Syrian Army fighters take cover during fierce fighting against government troops in Idlib, north Syria, March 10, 2012.
Margaret Besheer

The United Nations Security Council will hold a ministerial level meeting on Monday to discuss the situation in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring.  It will also provide an opportunity to highlight the deteriorating situation in the latest Arab Spring battlefield, Syria.

Britain, which holds the rotating presidency of the 15-nation Security Council, is organizing the special session and Foreign Secretary William Hague will chair the meeting.  Three foreign ministers from Arab Spring countries - Libya, Tunisia and Egypt - have been invited to address the council, as has the U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon.

Britain’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Philip Parham, says the debate will aim to look at the change that has been happening in the Middle East and the challenges and opportunities that it presents.

"Each council member will be able to speak about whichever aspects of that they most wish to, but we hope that it will be largely a forward looking, positive debate about the challenges and the opportunities, and about how the international community can contribute constructively and positively to the process of change in the Middle East," said Parham.

Jeffrey Laurenti, a U.N. analyst with the Century Foundation, says he expects the year-old Syrian crisis to be a focus of the session.

"Whenever you have a foreign ministers-level meeting of the Security Council, you really have to be dealing with the issues that are most burning on the international agenda, and of all the Arab Spring issues, what is most burning is Syria," said Laurenti.  "This is not a meeting at which resolutions get hammered out, but it is a meeting at which one can hope to see some possible convergence, particularly among that inner circle of the five permanent members, the major powers, on the Security Council."

The permanent members, plus Arab member Morocco, have been negotiating the text of a draft resolution aimed at providing humanitarian access to Syria.  On Friday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters that those efforts do not appear to be bearing fruit.

"We have been consulting all week in New York on whether we could do a somewhat narrower resolution that nonetheless was supportive of the effort to get humanitarian relief in," said Nuland.  "I have to tell you that, based on where we are today, the P5+ Morocco consultations we had have not resulted in an agreed text.  We are frankly, not overly optimistic that an agreed text will be reached in the future."

Several Security Council members will be represented at the foreign minister level.  U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is attending, as is her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, and the two are expected to have a bilateral meeting.  

U.S.-Russia relations have been strained recently and Moscow’s use of its Security Council veto not once, but twice, to block action against its close ally, Syria, has not helped.  This will be the first time the two diplomats have met since Vladimir Putin was returned to the Russian presidency with the majority of the vote, but in an election the United States noted had irregularities.

Jeffrey Laurenti says Syria and Iran will certainly come up during the Clinton-Lavrov talks.

"Syria is certainly going to be high on their bilateral agenda; Iran is going to be very high, now that you have, once again coming back to life, negotiations of the P5+1 and Iran on its nuclear program," said Laurenti.

Laurenti adds that the Russians would also probably try to get the Palestinian-Israeli issue back on the agenda.  He says it has been "completely lost" in the heat of an American presidential campaign that the Israelis have tried to refocus on Iran, and in the midst of the Arab Spring, which has been a big diversion for the West and Arab states.

Diplomats in New York say they also expect the Middle East Quartet to meet on the sidelines of the Security Council.  The Palestinian-Israeli peace process has been stalled despite a Quartet initiative in September to move the parties to reopen direct talks.  Monday’s gathering of ministers would give the group, which comprises the United Nations, the United States, Russia and the European Union, an opportunity to evaluate its next steps.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
Middle East Voices
. Follow our Middle East reports on
Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Hassan
March 11, 2012 6:14 PM
Individuals who give support to the Assad dictatorship in any form, shape or fashion are as guilty of killing the Syrian people as Assad, the Ba’ath Party or the Shabiha. They may not be punished for the support of rape, theft, terrorism and murder in this world, but they’ll be held accountable in the hereafter. Assad’s control over Syria will come to an end and he will be remembered like his father as a bloody mass murderer. On that day Assad will join Gadhafi in the trash can of human history.

by: Dictatorial Saudi Arabia
March 10, 2012 10:12 AM
saudi arabia --- the biggest dictatoria country in middle east and even in the world, but it's an ally of us now in middle east. why? first, us needs to use saudi arabia to help them to get rid of us' enemy -- iran, the most democratic country in middle east; second, saudi arabia hopes us will not attach saudi arabia like attaching iraq and lybia by helping us get rid of their arab brother -- syria.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs