On February 4 the UN Security Council (UNSC) held a new session devoted to Syria. This time the targets of the strike were Russia and China. It was done in an open and demonstrative way. The provocative skills become more and more honed. This time around the number of the draft resolution sponsors was not four (like in October 2011) but nineteen. Besides seven Security Council members (the USA, France, Great Britain, Togo, Portugal, Germany, Colombia) there were twelve more ‘co-authors’: Morocco (the official author of the draft), Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, and even Libya. An attempt was made to present the draft as ‘an all Arabs stance.’
The draft resolution was supported by thirteen Council members, two permanent members – Russia and China – voted against it. What strikes the eye is that no one abstained. It means that exerting pressure on all those who dared, even inertly, to resist it in October produced results. For instance, two BRICS members, India and South Africa, who abstained in October, voted ‘yes’ this time. It’s nice to see they didn’t become co-authors of the draft. Besides, all five new Council members joining ‘the strong of the world’ since January 1, 2012: Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Pakistan, Togo and Morocco voted for it.
What was the content of the ‘Moroccan’ draft? It endorsed the Syrian crisis peaceful settlement plan elaborated by the Arab League. The plan envisaged a number of steps to be taken by the Syrian government, including the withdrawal of armed forces from all populated areas back to the barracks.
However much more important was what was not included in the draft. Ignoring Russia’s stance, the draft did not include the demands for ‘the Syrian opposition to distance itself from extremist groups that commit acts of violence and a call on all states and all those who possess adequate resources to influence the groups to make them stop it.’
Besides, Russia’s demand that ‘armed groups stop attacks against state institutions and populated city areas while the Syrian armed forces are leaving cities’ was ignored. Why the ‘Moroccan’ version? These obviously natural demands do not reflect ‘purely’ Russian interests but rather meet the basic requirements of any peaceful settlement: a ceasefire by both sides and no acts of violence towards civilians on the part of those who aspire to the role of opposition. The refusal to include these provisions into the draft means only one thing – a deliberate provocation force the resort to the right of veto.
The co-authors of the draft resolution slammed Russia more than Syria itself. For instance, Morocco put special emphasis on the fact that Russia ignored the ‘Arabs’ common stance’. France called Russia and China accomplices in terrible crimes committed by the Syrian regime.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined the anti-Russian campaign saying the rejection of the draft was a great disappointment for the Syrian people! (1)
Vitaly Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, gave a calm but adamant response to the propagandistic hysteria of the Western bloc. He said that some influential members of international community, including those sitting at the table, were undermining chances for a peaceful settlement by calling for regime change, stirring up the opposition against the government, and even not shying away from provocations and fueling an armed struggle.
The haste with which the ‘Moroccan’ draft was submitted for consideration brings to mind the Libyan example, when practically immediately after resolution N 1970 was adopted resolution N 1973 was put to a vote. The reason was an initiative on the part of the African Union that could have frustrated Western plans. Actually, the very same thing took place this time when on the eve of the Moscow meeting it was announced that the Russian foreign minister and the Chief of the Foreign Intelligence Service would visit Damascus in two days (2). Afterwards a referendum on a new constitution and parliamentary elections is to take place there.
The reason behind the new provocation against Russia was to make it [appear to be] opposed to the whole world. It became clear even on January 31 at the preliminary session of the Security Council when the ‘Moroccan’ draft was submitted for consideration for the first time.
They had gathered a considerable force by then. First, the Secretary General of the Arab League; second, the head of the Arab League committee, the prime minister of Qatar; third, a number of states (Germany, Portugal, Guatemala and Morocco), including three permanent Security Council members (Britain, France and the USA) raised their representation up to the level of foreign ministers! At last, the UN Secretary-General was mandated to make a presentation. In his words, he was ‘inspired’ by the Arab League plan. That’s how ’public opinion’ was shaped, maintaining that the new Arab League plan was an all-Arab stance that would lead to the settlement of the Syrian crisis. In the given environment the strike was aimed at those who would vote ‘no’.
It was absolutely clear there was no chance to come to an agreement on the resolution during just four days. Still it was submitted for a vote.
The theatricality of what took place at the UNSC February 4 session was accentuated by one more thing. The USA, Germany and Britain, permanent UNSC members, said immediately after the vote they were ‘appalled’ and ‘shocked’ by the Russian veto. To enhance the effect, a further attack against peaceful civilians and armed forces took place in Syria in the morning. The use of force in response on the very day the UNSC session took place made it possible for the representatives of some countries, including France and Portugal, to ask ‘how many more victims’ does Russia want? Weren’t ‘over six thousand dead, including more than four thousand children’ enough? (3)
Vitaly Churkin explained the Russia’s reasons for exercising its veto right, saying in particular that the draft resolution distorted the real situation (‘inadequate reflection of the realities in Syria’). It’s a very important moment. Going back to the Libyan experience, the distortion of facts was the basis for further violations and, finally, crimes under the UN aegis.
The same thing is taking place right now. Before the UNSC January 31 session Arab League documents were distributed. The report of General al-Dabi, head of the Arab league Syrian Mission, was not included. (It was formally explained that the text of the report was coming later because it was sent by courier). The report presents a positive assessment of the Syrian government’s actions. Its conclusion says Syrian authorities did comply with all demands put forward (4).
At the session the Syrian representative asked for explanations of this blatant fact. Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said his presence was enough – he and the prime minister of Qatar would give all explanations and General al-Dabi was responsible for ‘watching the situation unfold on the spot’! (5). His reaction is understandable. The matter is the report presented by the general confirms the fact that armed gangs attack the Syrian civilian population, state agencies and even security forces. These facts call for mandatory cessation of violent actions by all sides, not just the government. The report acknowledges that a campaign of systematic distortion of the facts and of fabrications is taking place in order to shape a negative image of the Syrian leadership.
So, once again, as it was in October, the main information strike in the ‘Syrian direction’ is aimed at Russia and China. The ranks of those who offered resistance lost India and South Africa. Still Moscow and Beijing continue to conduct a policy based on principles and international law. This policy applies not to Syria only but to the UN as well. They stand in the way of the UN’s destruction by endorsing another aggression. The ongoing struggle is nor for Syria only but for the UN preserving its status as a competent international institution.
(2) Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs report on the coming visit to Damask of Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs L. Lavrov and M. Fradkov, head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service http://www.mid.ru/ brp_4.nsf/newsline/ 2151550E1C4204794425799A0049226C
(4) UN Document: S/2012/71
(5) UN Document: S/PV.6710