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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora