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
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.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs