The United Nations Security Council met in a closed session on June 19th regarding the ongoing Syrian crisis. It heard from Maj. General Robert Mood, the commander of the three hundred unarmed UN observers who are supposed to monitor the situation in Syria but have been stymied. Herve Ladsous, the Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping operations, also addressed the Security Council members.
Both men briefed the press following the Security Council meeting. To nobody’s surprise, they expressed frustration with the continuing level of violence in Syria, which had caused Maj. General Mood to suspend the patrols of his monitors last week. The monitors remain in limbo, staying put in their current positions. Their current mandate is due to expire on July 20th. Whether the Security Council will decide to renew it is anyone’s guess. Russia and China want to maintain its toothless status. France appears to be leading the charge to upgrade the mission somehow. In fact, on his way into the Security Council chamber, French UN Ambassador Gerard Araud indicated the possibility of moving towards a UN Charter Chapter 7 Security Council enforcement mandate. Considering the obstructionist stance taken to date by Russia and China against dealing firmly with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, France’s idea is unlikely to go anywhere.
Meanwhile, Under Secretary General Ladsou continued to hold on to the fantasy that the six-point “peace plan” put together by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan would actually work. Chinese UN Ambassador Li Baodong, June’s President of the Security Council, also urged all parties to implement the plan “in its entirety.”
All that Kofi Annan’s efforts to mediate the conflict have accomplished was to give President al-Assad, who has verbally supported the peace plan, more time to crush his opposition. More than 3000 Syrians are said to have lost their lives since mid-April when Annan’s plan was supposed to take effect. It is literally at a dead end.
Maj. General Mood in particular did not put all of the blame for the continuing violence on the Assad regime. Indeed, in saying that one of the factors that would influence his decision to lift the suspension of the observers’ monitoring activities would be the commitment by both sides to the conflict to commit to allowing complete freedom of movement of the observers, he went out of his way to praise the Syrian government for its positive response. He added that the opposition had not yet responded.
Syria’s UN ambassador, Bashar Ja’afari, who also spoke to the press, singled out Maj. General Mood for praise in presenting what Assad’s UN mouthpiece called a “balanced approach.” He accused unnamed Western countries of wanting the Kofi Annan plan to fail so that they can accomplish their objective of regime change.
Ambassador Ja’afari ridiculed the notion that any Syrian government crackdown on the opposition was to blame for the violence. He repeatedly referred to a “Third Force” consisting of outsider armed terrorists, backed by countries such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey. “Syria is committed to protecting the rights of 23 million civilians,” he claimed.
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