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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs