UN Security Council debates escalating violence in Syria

Possible draft statement from Germany, France, Portugal, UK would call on Assad to prosecute those behind violence, exercise restraint.

By JORDANA HORN
April 28, 2011 01:20
3 minute read.
Picture of Syria’s President Bashar Assad

Syria Assad 521. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

NEW YORK – As the United Nations Security Council met behind closed doors on Wednesday for an extensive briefing and deliberations on Syria, the body grappled with pronounced tensions as pressure to address Syria’s escalation of violence against its own people mounted.

After meeting for an hour behind closed doors, the situation in the Middle East was brought before an open chamber Wednesday evening. The UN representative of Syria was invited to participate, as was UN Undersecretary General for Political Affairs, Lynn Pascoe.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


RELATED:
Syria tightens its grip on protest centers
EU says 'all options on the table' to quell Syria violence
Calls for sanctions grow as Assad steps up offensive

Pascoe opened the meeting’s public session by saying he had been briefed by both confidential and public sources. “They are increasingly calling for the downfall of the regime, echoing slogans that have been heard elsewhere in the region,” he said of the Syrian protesters.

Pascoe spoke of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s efforts to respond to demonstrators, but added that “despite the promise of reform, the government crackdown intensified dramatically” – noting that over one hundred people were thought killed over the past weekend.

Pascoe alluded to the unreliability of news coming from the region due to the circumstances, but cited reported shortages of food, water and medicine in the area.

“This could become a major humanitarian issue in the coming days,” Pascoe said.



The Security Council’s late afternoon meeting Wednesday was slated to discuss a draft statement from Germany, France, Portugal and the UK – which would call on Assad to prosecute those behind the violence against demonstrators, and to exercise restraint.

Pressure on the body to respond in some way to Syria’s actions against demonstrators was ramped up by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who issued a statement Tuesday saying that he is watching events in Syria with “increasingly grave concern.”

“I condemn, utterly, the continuing violence against peaceful demonstrators – most particularly the use of tanks and live fire that have killed and injured hundreds of people,” Ban said. “It goes without saying that Syrian authorities have an obligation to protect civilians and respect international human rights.

“That includes the right to free expression and peaceful assembly. The High Commissioner for Human Rights and I agree: There should be an independent, transparent and effective investigation. I remain convinced that only an inclusive dialogue and genuine reform can address the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and restore peace and social order,” Ban continued.

Calling the violence used by Syria’s government against its own people “abhorrent and deplorable,” US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said Tuesday night that the US condemns Syria’s violence “in the strongest terms.”

“The outrageous use of violence to quell protests must come to an end – and now,” Rice said. “The Syrian Government’s actions to repeal the decade’s old emergency law and allow for peaceful demonstrations were clearly not serious given the continued violent repression against protesters.”

Rice said the US, among others, is currently pursuing a range of policy options – including, but not limited to, sanctions.

While the Security Council’s European members continue to push the body to adopt the statement condemning Syria’s violence toward protesters, they are expected to face opposition from Lebanon, China and Russia.

Russia and China view Syria’s protests as an internal matter that should be handled domestically.

Meanwhile, China’s ambassador to the UN, Li Baodong, has called for a “political solution” to end the crisis.

Lebanon is a long-time ally of Syria, and is expected to vote against any condemnation of Syria.

Click for full Jpost coverage of turmoil in the Middle East


Russia in particular has evinced signs of fatigue regarding Middle East actions, and has expressed apprehension about air raids on Libya, and similar future Middle East scenarios.

“The Syrian people’s call for freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly and to choose their leaders freely must be heard,” Rice said. “We strongly oppose the Syrian government’s treatment of its citizens and we continue to oppose its continued destabilizing behavior more generally – including support for terrorism and terrorist groups.”

Rice characterized it as “disingenuous” for Syria to blame outsiders for its unrest, while simultaneously seeking Iranian assistance in repressing its citizens.

Related Content

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
August 31, 2014
Prime minister to Channel 1: I’ll be running again in next election

By Gil Stern Stern HOFFMAN