The UN Security Council is set for a showdown on Wednesday as Russia has submitted its own, “enhanced”, draft resolution on Syria to counter a new draft resolution on sanctions prepared by Western countries. The UK, supported by the USA, France, and Germany, drafted a new resolution on Syria on the basis of Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which allows sanctions and military operations under certain limited situations. Russia, on the contrary, continues to promote UN Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan as the only way to end the spiralling violence in Syria, despite the failure of a ceasefire stipulated under the deal.
On Tuesday, Russian Deputy Ambassador to the UN Aleksandr Pankin told reporters after a two-hour Security Council meeting on the Russian draft, “We’ve taken into account [in the enhanced draft] concerns over humanitarian situation, human rights, and a localised ceasefire. Kofi Annan discussed this idea with the Syrian leadership in Damascus. It seems to be rather effective”. The new version of the Russian draft focuses, in particular, on the extension of a UN monitoring mission to Syria, which expires on 20 July, for another three months.
Washington and its allies refused to support the original Russian draft; Western diplomats described it as “toothless” and “inadequate”. In response, Russia threatened to veto the Western draft on Wednesday because, if passed, it’d be “a small step towards foreign intervention in Syria”. Both Russia and China… veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council… previously blocked UN resolutions that would’ve introduced tough sanctions against Syria over what Western powers say is the brutal suppression of a now 17-month revolt against President Bashar al-Assad’s régime.
The Syrian conflict, which has grown increasingly militarised over the past few months, has already left between 13,000 and 17,000 people dead, according to Syrian rights activists quoted by the UN. Most recently, intensive fighting between rebels and government forces flared up in the Syrian capital, Damascus, as the Free Syrian Army, a military wing of the Syrian opposition, announced a full-scale military operation in the capital in response to what the group described as “massacres and barbaric crimes” committed by government troops.
17 July 2012