Syria: Russian-Western Rift Widens


The rift between Russia, Syria’s ally, and the western members on the Security Council widened on a proposed draft resolution on the Syrian crisis as new elements, including sanctions, were suggested for the first time to counter the regime’s intransigence and to reflect the deterioration of the situation.

The draft, updated by the UK, France, Germany, Portugal and USA, suggests a travel ban and asset freeze on 19 Syrian officials, as well as an asset freeze on the Government, including the Central Bank of Syria and the Syrian Commercial Bank. It also suggests a flight ban to and from Syria and a ban on governmental trade transactions with the country, except for strategic commodities affecting the Syrian people.

Those suggestions are in brackets, which mean they are in dispute.

The draft drops the arms embargo, but expresses its determination, in the event that Syria does not fully implement the Arab League plan of action, to adopt “further targeted measures, including sanctions, as appropriate.”

It bluntly “condemns the continued widespread systematic and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities.” Among those violations are arbitrary executions of peaceful protesters, human rights defenders and journalists, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, and interference with access to medical treatment, torture, sexual violence, and ill-treatment, including against children.

It requests the Secretary-General to “rapidly establish an international commission of inquiry” in order to immediately investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in Syria “by all parties,” and calls on them to cooperate fully with such a commission.

It also requests him to report on the implementation of this resolution within 15 days after its adoption and to report every 15 days thereafter.

It “fully supports” the implementation of the Arab League’s plan of action and its “program of sanctions,” and calls upon the Syrian government and all opposition groups to cooperate in good faith with the League to resolve the crisis peacefully, It demands that the Syrian government implement the Plan of Action of the League of Arab States “in its entirety and without further delay or preconditions, including by cooperating fully with the League’s mission” on the basis of the Protocol of December 19 of this month.

In order for that to happen, the draft resolution calls upon the Syrian authorities to allow the entry of technical equipment necessary for the mission to successfully carry out its duties, provide it with a headquarters in various cities, secure its safe and free access around the country to visit prisons, police stations and hospitals, and guarantee not to punish any person or his family members because he has offered testimony or information.

The draft continues to demand that “all parties in Syria immediately stop any violence irrespective of where it comes from” in accordance with the Arab League initiative and “urges all sides to reject extremism.”

It demands the Syrian government to meet its responsibility to protect its population, to immediately put an end to attacks against those exercising their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, and to fully comply with its obligations under applicable international law. It calls upon the Syrian authorities to allow unhindered access for international media and independent observers, including international humanitarian actors, to cooperate fully with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the independent international commission of inquiry of the Human Rights Council.

It urges the Syrian Government to release immediately all arbitrarily detained persons and to grant access for independent international monitors to all places of detention.

It calls for an inclusive Syrian-led political process conducted in an environment free from violence, fear, intimidation and extremism and aimed at effectively addressing the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people, and encourages the Syrian opposition and all sections of the Syrian society to contribute to this process.

It warns that “all those responsible for violence and human rights violations should be held accountable.” According to UN estimates, 5,000 people were killed in Syria since the uprising to topple the Assad regime began in mid-March.

To allay Russia’s concern, Council western members stated in the draft’s preambular part that “nothing in this resolution compels States to take measures or action exceeding the scope of this resolution, including the use of force or the threat of force.”

Diplomats said both clans stick to their positions, expressing doubt a vote will ever take place now that the gap between them has widened.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin already told a press conference last Friday that his western colleagues should forget the idea of sanctions because “simply, that’s not going to happen.”


KUNA is the Kuwait News Agency

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