Monday, July 30, 2012

Report on Syrian Issue - External Players

- 26th July 2012 (morning)

INTERNATIONAL RESPONSES TO THE EVENTS OF THE PAST WEEK (a separate report follows on Russia’s position):

On Tuesday, Russia’s resolution for the extension of the UN observer mission and a broader mandate was completely rejected by the UN Security Council, enabling consideration to be given to an alternative Western backed British resolution. This would enforce Chapter VII of the UN mandate allowing a broad spectrum of possible further action. The vote on the alternative resolution was delayed until Thursday in reaction to the dramatic assassination of key government figures in Syria. This resolution was vetoed by both China and Russia, making it impossible to impose further sanctions on Syria under the auspices of the UN as the West had wished. Despite which the UN observer mission was extended for 30 days, the only small success.

The veto caused tension between the US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice and the Russian ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin. Rice claimed that Russia was paranoid, and that the extension of the UN observer mission gave barely enough time to safely get the observers out of Syria. She suggested that the loss of the observer mission would send a message of failure to the people of Syria, at a very volatile time.

Refugee numbers have increased and the UNHCR is struggling to cope, opening new camps in Jordan. The number of refugees registered with the UNHCR stands at 35,000 in Jordan, 30,000 in Lebanon, 42,000 in Turkey and 7,500 in Iraq. Many do go unregistered and the Jordanian government claim there are between 90,000 and 150,000 unregistered Syrians in the country.

Additionally, Israel has issued a complaint to the UN because Syrian troops have strayed into “the UN controlled areas” of the Golan Heights. Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Haim Waxman, declared that the move had been a violation of the agreement between the two countries, which would have negative implications for the region.

Meanwhile, the NCF’s most credible sources are reporting that at least one rogue Western Ambassador in Turkey is placing great pressure on Syrian opposition groups in an attempt to ensure that no one breaks ranks and there are no negotiations with the government on the basis of Kofi Annan’s peace plan.

The White House claims that it has refused all requests for weaponry and intelligence from Syrian opposition groups. The Syrian Support Group (the political wing of the Free Syrian Army) states that they presented American officials with a proposal requesting heavy weaponry, body armour and secure satellite phones. They also asked for $6million to pay rebel fighters. The FSA were told that all such requests would be rejected and were asked to “withdraw” their request. Some suggest that the US is not going to provide logistical support to the Free Syrian Army until after the installation of the victor in the US Presidential election in January 2013. Others suggest that covert support is already being provided. Others suggest that “lethal support” will never be provided in the absence of a UN resolution.

The White House National Security Adviser, Tom Donilon, announced in London that America wanted to make it quite clear that it will not intervene in Syria.

The recent links between various rebel groups and Salafist groups described in the West as Al Qa’eda has been a significant contributing factor to the increased reluctance to supply the rebels with better weapons.

Hilary Clinton has announced that she will be stepping down as Secretary of State in January regardless of whether Obama is re-elected. She said that the US has done everything it can do in Syria and that it would be impossible for any plan to be successful without the support of the Security Council.

Ministers gathering under the auspices of the Arab League approved a dramatic policy shift on Syria after they met in Doha on Sunday. The head of the Arab League, Nabil Elaraby, stated that the Syrian government would not last and that political reform was not the answer, but a transfer of power is what is required.

Qatar’s Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani called on the Syrian Opposition and the Free Syrian Army to unite and form a transitional government and that Assad should take the ‘courageous’ decision to step down in order to save his country. He also stated that it should be Kofi Annan who draws up the transitional policy plan. It was agreed in the meeting on Sunday to offer $100million in aid to Syrian refugees. As decided in the resolutions of Sunday’s meeting, Nabil Elaraby, visited both China and Russia with the Qatari Prime Minister, who chairs the League’s committee on Syria. The Arab League’s view on the Russian veto is that it is in direct opposition to Arab interests. The League has also offered Assad and his family safe passage out of Syria in the hope that it might ‘encourage some positive action’.

Observers note the waning interest in the Syrian National Council which was not mentioned by name in the announcement.

A new round of sanctions against Syria was announced at the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels. The EU also asked the international community to put more pressure on the Syrian government. The Council said:

•  The EU strongly supports Kofi Annan’s Peace Plan and the creation of a transitional government with opposition and government members, excluding President Assad.

•  The EU calls all members of the UNSC to reach an agreement and put more pressure on the Syrian government.

The EU has also made a statement assuring the Syrian population that with this new round of sanctions they are targeting the government and not the civilians.

William Hague attended the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels where he welcomed the new round of EU sanctions against the Syrian government.

Hague asked all members of the international community to impose similar sanctions ‘on the Syrian regime and its supporters’. The UK still fully supports Kofi Annan’s Peace Plan but was very disappointed with the lack of agreement at the UNSC. Mr Hague said: “The UN has failed to shoulder its responsibilities; the Security Council has failed to bring about solutions. We shall all be doing more outside the Security Council to support Syrian opposition. We will not be giving lethal support."

The King of Spain has asked the International community to reach an agreement at the UNSC to stop the conflict in Syria. Don Juan Carlos, travelled to Moscow to receive one of the highest decorations given by the Russian government in recognition of his ‘humanitarian contributions to society’. The King’s visit was business focused as he travelled with a big delegation of important business leaders and investors. Although the visit did not have a political character, he made reference to the dramatic situation in Syria, stating:

‘We all share the same responsibilities and we must act united to stop the crisis in Syria’. He referred to the UN as ‘the only frame under which the crisis can be resolved’.

No comments: