Splendour and Misery of Western Diplomacy. Situation in and around Syria

By IndepthAfrica
In Middle East
Aug 13th, 2012
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Alexander MEZYAEV

The situation in and around Syria is still one of the most important issues being in focus of international events. This is the case when diplomacy equals military operations in importance. The failure of the UN Security Council resolution of July 19 to great extent spurred the diplomatic and military activities. First Kofi Annan, UN Special Envoy for Syria, resigned, and then in violation of UN Charter the Syrian issue was transferred to the UN General Assembly, where a new resolution was adopted. Formally Kofi Annan refused to continue his mission claiming» to lack of support from the international community». How should one understand it? The majority of countries supported him without any conditions attached. It’s clear the resignation of Kofi Annan is a response to the veto of Russia and China. Really so! A bit later he was more candid saying: “At a time when we need — when the Syrian people desperately need action — there continues to be finger-pointing and name-calling in the Security Council.” He concluded: “it is impossible for me, or anyone, to compel the Syrian government in the first place, and also the opposition, to take the steps necessary to begin a political process». Is it not a veiled call for military intervention? On August 3 the UN General Assembly approved a new resolution on Syria. It received the support of 133 states while 12 UN members opposed it and 31 abstained. It is the third resolution related to the situation in Syria that was adopted by the current 66th session of the General Assembly.

The first resolution saw light on December 19 2011. It stood out for its absolutely unilateral approach addressing the Syrian government only while totally ignoring the other side of the conflict. Its paragraph 2 said it «Strongly condemns the continued widespread and systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities». (1) The second resolution of February 16 2012 was not that biased, for instance, it contained a condemnation of any violence wherever it came from, it also called on «both the Government and allied forces and armed groups to stop all violence or reprisals immediately». However the very spirit of the document was generally hostile to the Syrian leadership condemning ‘widespread and systematic’ human rights violations by Syrian authorities». The list of accusations was added by «interference with access to medical treatment» and «ill-treatment, including against children» (2).

The last resolution adopted on August 3 significantly differed from the two previous ones. The list of accusations mentioned (and repeated) before was added by new ones, this time going too far from point of view of common sense: like, for instance, it denounced attacks on children as young as 9 by the Syrian government, military intelligence services and militias, as well as “killing and maiming, arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and ill-treatment, including sexual violence, and use as human shields.” No crime committed in Syria is attributed to the so called opposition.

It’s clear the reason behind the decision to hand over the issue of Syria from the UN Security Council to the General Assembly was the fact that Russia and China have no veto power there. But it should be noted the very transfer of the issue is illegal. According to article 12 of UN Charter the General Assembly has no right to make any recommendations with regard to an issue on the agenda of Security Council unless the Security Council decides otherwise.

Besides the wording of the document is much more rough and one-sided than the UN Security Council draft resolution that was imposed veto on. For instance the Resolution of General Assembly calls on all states to introduce sanctions against Syria (paragraph 21) and demands the Security Council take measures to bring to justice those who are guilty of committing international crimes (paragraph 8-9). The fact it addresses the Security Council, not, for instance, the Court, has its particular explanation. Syria is not a member of International Criminal Court Statute, but, as article 13 of the document states, the situation in any country may become part of the Court’s agenda no matter if the country is a signatory or not. Finally it should be noted the condemnation encompasses not government forces only but also «pro-governmental militias” (paragraph 2), this way the resolution in question is quite openly opposed not to the government forces only but to all the Syrian people, who support their authorities, perhaps, it’s an unparalleled event in the history of international law. (3)

The dynamics of vote are stable. The August 3 resolution was sponsored by the USA, Great Britain and other NATO members as well as Middle East regimes (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Jordan). The just «democratized» Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia clearly stand out among the yes voters. (4) The first resolution was supported by 133 states, the second – 137, now its 133 yessayers again. Though numbers are not the main thing, it’s rather the composition of those who opposed the resolution that matters. So who were the naysayers? In the case of the first resolution they were Belarus, Cuba, the Republic of North Korea, Ecuador, Iran, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Uzbekistan and Syria itself. Russia and China are not on the list, they abstained. Bolivia joined the resistance group (it abstained while voting for the first resolution) while some others switched from no to abstain or were absent when the voting took place (Uzbekistan). Though the issue of Syria is of principle importance for the process of shaping the contemporary world, the BRICS states failed to come up with a common position: India, Brazil, South Africa either voted yes or abstained (changing their position from one draft voting to another). The last draft resolution was supported by 133 while 12 opposed it and 31 abstained. So the number of no voters didn’t change, still the resolution received four yes votes less in comparison with the last voting. The representative of the Russian Federation said in advance Russia would oppose the draft.

The adoption of the resolution on August 3 should be considered against the background of three drafts that failed to get the support of the UN Security Council. Let’s remember that each time Russia and China vetoed the drafts submitted by the West. The draft resolutions envisaged the reference to article VII allowing the use of force. Another Western draft resolution was vetoed on July 19. (5) It was unacceptable due to two provisions: first, the reference to article VII, second, the threat of resorting to article 41 of UN Charter (paragraph 14 of Western draft) . (6) The last one envisages imposition of economic and diplomatic sanctions. It’s important to note Pakistan and South Africa abstained.

* * *

On July 19 Russian ambassador said at the Security Council’s session the authors of the draft knew in advance the document «stood no chance of being adopted» (7) Then a question pops up in a natural way – what the document was submitted for vote for? The main «strange thing» about the fact is that it was totally useless for the West. The text of the resolution called for economic and diplomatic sanctions. Of course Russia and China didn’t want to make it legal. The matter is the sanctions had long ago been imposed by the West! There was nothing to justify the West’s desire for a new resolution demonizing the Syrian authorities. It had already been done long time ago. From way back the Western public opinion has been ready for a new aggression. The conclusion is that the very fact of submitting the draft resolution for vote was targeted exclusively at Russia.

Indeed, a new round of anti-Russian hysteria in Western media didn’t take too long to start. One cannot but see the top UN officials are closely related to the process. Right after the July 19 vote US ambassador Susan Rice called ««paranoid if not disingenuous.» The fears that the resolution blocked by Russia and China would have opened the way for military intervention in Syria. British ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said «More than fourteen thousand innocent Syrians have been killed since Russia and China first vetoed our efforts to stem the violence in October last year». On July 23 Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said it was possible the Syrian authorities would use chemical weapons. On July 27 the UN High Commissioner of UN Human Rights said: «All this, taken along with the reported build-up of forces in and around Aleppo, bodes ill for the people of that city,» She added: «Such attacks are also continuing in other major towns such as Homs and Deir-ez-Zur. Already the consequences for civilians have been devastating, with many thousands killed and injured and between 1 and 1.5 million now reported to have fled their homes.” Navanethem “Navi” Pillay described in detail how the government forces cleansed the areas from the «opposition»: at first they surrounded a village or a city, then switched off water and electricity, then denied access to food, after that they started massive shooting and delivering air strikes. The High Commissioner said she received the information that the opposition was also involved in human tortures and out of trial killings of the detained. She emphasized the killings committed by authorities as well as by opposition could be qualified as military and human crimes. No matter this time the opposition was wagged a finger at, it was clear whose side the High Commissioner was on. Of course the authorities «torture and sexually abuse children» while the «opposition» is involved in «out of trial executions». The problem is not that the executions are carried out but only that it’s done without observing appropriate procedures! (8)

The actions of the West confirm its adamant desire to destroy the whole system of the United Nations where Russia holds a right of veto in the Security Council. To achieve the purpose Russia should be provoked on and on to use the right convincing the world public opinion the United Nations is ineffective «in its present form»…

* * *

The Assad’s resignation, the draft resolution not adopted by Security Council and the resolution adopted by General Assembly – they are all elements of diplomatic war waged against Russia, not Syria. The Syrian leadership has already been demonized. Now the West counts on demonizing Russia to make the Kremlin responsible for the «tortures of Syrian children»…

The mass hysteria caused by a «possibility» Syria would use chemical weapons is not occasional too. One cannot exclude the Western special services prepare a wide scale crime that presupposes the use of chemical weapons. They will accuse Syria of the wrong doing and then will put the blame on Russia saying it was an accomplice due to the fact it supported the Assad’s regime. The only thing required is to convincingly make Russia be related to an obviously committed international crime. It’s important to make Russian leadership look like accomplices of international criminals. There are already international bodies to bring Russia to justice – the International Criminal Court. It is actively preparing to launch cases against the top state officials of the countries that are not signatories to the Statute. (9)

The verdict just handed down by International Criminal Court for Sierra Leone against former President of Liberia Charles Taylor doesn’t appear to be an occasion too (he was not even indicted for the crimes committed by him on the territory of Liberia itself!). He was found guilty for aiding crimes committed in another country!

The very same «message’ is sent to world leaders by another tribunal – the International Criminal Court where Vice-President of Congo is facing trial. Again he is not brought to justice for what he did in his own country but for rendering legal military aid to a neighboring state. (10) Thus there is a legal foundation being prepared under the guise of «normal international law» and «international judicial precedent». The messages of international tribunals are quite clear as well as the objects they are aimed at. Speaking in the United Nations right after the Russian veto was imposed United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay put it straight: “Those who are committing them should not believe that they will escape justice. The world does not forget or forgive crimes like these,” she added. «This applies to opposition forces committing crimes as well as to Government forces and their allies.» (11)

(1) The UN General Assembly resolution № 66/176, Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, //UN document A/RES/66/176.

(2) The UN General Assembly resolution №66/253 – The situation in the Syrian Arab Republic//UN document A/RES/66/253.

(3) Ref. The UN general Assembly draft resolution within the framework of agenda – Prevention of armed conflicts – the situation in Syria// UN document A/66/L.57.

(4) Totally there were 53 co-authors of resolution: Australia, Austria, Albania, Andorra, Bahrain, Belgium, Bulgaria, Botswana, Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Georgia, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Yemen, Canada, Qatar, Cyprus, Cote d’Ivoire, Kuwait, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxemburg, the Maldives, Morocco, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Great Britain, the USA, Tunisia, Turkey, Finland, Croatia, Czech Republic, Sweden, Estonia, Japan.

(5) The co-authors were Germany, Portugal, Great Britain, the USA and France.

(6) The text of the unaccepted draft resolution is available in the UN document S/2012/538.

(7) the verbatim record of the 6810th plenary of UN Security Council on July 19 2012//UN document S/PV.6810, p.10

(8) UN press-release on July 27 2012//the official UN website – http://www.un.org/ russian/ news/ fullstorynews. asp?newsID=17944.

(9) Details are in the article Who the International Criminal Court Is Really Created for? by Alexander Mezyaev, 13.04.2012 – http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2012/04/13/who-the-international-criminal-court-is-really-created-for.html

(10) The International Criminal Court case Prosecutor versus Jean-Pierre Bemba

(11) The official website of UN human rights commissioner – http://www.ohchr. org/ EN/ NewsEvents/ Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12393&LangID=E

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