UN split over Syria sanctions

Report on Naksa, Nakba clashes on northern border says Syria didn't organize the demonstrations but Syrian armed forces were always nearby.

June 15, 2011 10:04
1 minute read.
Syrians walk toward border near Majdal Shams, Sun.

naksa day clashes_311 reuters. (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)


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NEW YORK – Conflicting messages on Syria continued to percolate at the United Nations this week.

While Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon repeatedly decried Syrian violence, and in a recent report, noted that Syrian forces may have been complicit in the Naksa Day border infiltrations this month, the Security Council’s efforts to reprimand Syria for human rights abuses may have hit a brick wall.

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In the Security Council, efforts to frame a resolution on Syria have met up with opposition due in part to certain countries’ apprehension – specifically, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – that the council overstepped its bounds by authorizing the use of force to protect civilians in Libya.

Lebanon, a Syrian ally, is expected to vote against any resolution condemning Syria.

Britain, France and other European states want the council to take a stand against Syria’s violent crackdown on protesters. The Europeans believe they have nine votes for a resolution, but many feel China or Russia might exercise a veto over such a resolution.

In an advanced copy of a report on the UN Disengagement Observer Force for January- June 2011, Ban noted that Syrian forces witnessed and did nothing to stop the Naksa Day border incursion on June 5. The report will be discussed by the Security Council later this month.

Prior to the Naksa Day demonstrations, the report stated that Syrian authorities “provided assurance of their cooperation with and support for UNDOF.” The UN report noted “the presence of Syrian security forces.”

Ban mentioned Syria in particular in his remarks in Buenos Aires earlier this week, referencing human rights violations at the hands of its armed forces. He said “the situation is very worrisome. This struggle has spread beyond any single square, any village or town. It has spread all throughout the country. The government has responded with horrific attacks.

“I once again urge President [Bashar] Assad of Syria to allow humanitarian access to affected areas.”

UN press agencies noted that Ban’s speech was the third time he publicly called for humanitarian access to Syria. His efforts to contact Assad have been unsuccessful.

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