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UN Watch in the News


UNSC western members will not flinch on Syria draft text, push for vote

Jan. 31, 2012

UNITED NATIONS Western members on the United Nations Security Council will not soften any further a draft resolution supporting the Arab League peace plan for Syria and will push for a vote this week, a Council diplomat told KUNA on Tuesday.
"If they (Russians) are going to block it anyway, at least stand behind a strong text," the western argument goes.
He said US Ambassador Susan Rice is "convinced" Russians will veto the present draft resolution, and therefore is against any further softening of the text.
The western members, he argued, felt duped last October when they watered down their draft resolution to allay Russia's concerns, but Russia vetoed it anyway.
Although the draft resolution does not mention sanctions, arms embargo, Libyan-style military intervention to change the regime, Russia continues to oppose it, even though the number of civilian deaths in Syria reached close to six thousands since the unrest began in Mid-March to oust the Assad regime.
There is a feeling, the Russian delegation here does not seem to brief Moscow accurately.
Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Australian Broadcasting Corp. TV earlier today in Sydney Russia will "never allow" the UN Security Council to authorize a Libya-style operation to resolve the political crisis in Syria.
However, Lavrov added, "we are not a friend, we are not an ally of President Assad. We never said President Assad remaining in power is the solution to the crisis. What we did say it is up to the Syrians themselves to decide how to run the country." Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of the Geneva-based monitoring group 'UN Watch' said "it's time for Moscow to understand that not even the Russian winter can freeze Syria's Arab Spring. "Instead of its increasingly futile effort to shield the doomed Assad regime, Russia would do better to prepare the dictator's Moscow asylum, something he will need sooner rather than later." The Council is holding later today a ministerial meeting during which Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Al-Arabi and the Chairman of its follow-up Committee on Syria Qatari Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassem will present the League's peace plan and urge members to support it.
US Secretary Hillary Clinton and her British, French and Portuguese counterparts, as well as the German and Moroccan Deputy Foreign Ministers, will also urge the members, mainly Russia, a Council permanent member with veto power, to support the League's peace plan and to vote in favour of a related draft resolution.
The League's peace plan requires President Bashar Al-Assad to hand over power to a deputy, urges the government and the opposition to open talks within two weeks, and calls for a national unity government to be formed within two months, followed by national elections.
Al-Arabi and Sheikh Hamad met yesterday with Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin in attempt to convince him of the League's peace plan. They also met today with British Foreign Secretary William Hague ahead of the Council afternoon session.
The vote on the draft resolution is now set for later this week, most probably on Friday, the diplomat said.
Council members, meeting at the experts' level late last night, did bring a few amendments to the draft resolution, such as expressing "regret" that "due to the escalation in violence (in Syria,) the observer mission was not in a position" to do its job, in an indirect reference to the League's decision last weekend to suspend its work. It further calls on the Syrian authorities, "in the event of a resumption of the observer mission," to cooperate fully with it.
The new version says the Council "condemns all violence, irrespective of where it comes from, and demands that all parties in Syria, including armed groups, immediately stop all violence or reprisals, against State institutions".
It no longer encourages member states, as it was stated in the previous version, to work with the Syrian opposition and all sections of the Syrian society to contribute to the "inclusive Syrian-led political process" which should be conducted in an environment free from violence, fear and intimidation.

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