Security Council Fails to Adopt Draft Resolution on Syria That Would Have Threatened Sanctions, Due to Negative Votes of China, Russian Federation

19 July 2012
SC/10714

Security Council Fails to Adopt Draft Resolution on Syria That Would Have Threatened Sanctions, Due to Negative Votes of China, Russian Federation

19 July 2012
Security Council
SC/10714
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6810th Meeting (AM)

Security Council Fails to Adopt Draft Resolution on Syria That Would Have

 

Threatened Sanctions, Due to Negative Votes of China, Russian Federation

 

Due to negative votes from two permanent members, the Security Council today failed to adopt a resolution that would have extended the mandate of the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) and which would have threatened sanctions on the country if demands to end the spiralling violence were not met.

The text, which received 11 votes in favour to 2 against (China, Russian Federation) with 2 abstentions (Pakistan and South Africa), would have extended the Mission’s mandate, which expires on 20 July, for 45 days and would have had the Council act under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter to demand verifiable compliance — within 10 days of the adoption — with its demands in previous resolutions that Syrian authorities pull back military concentrations from population centres and cease the use of heavy weaponry against them.

Through the defeated draft, the Council would have expressed grave concern over the escalation of violence and the failure of the parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, to implement the six-point plan of Joint Envoy Kofi Annan for an end to violence, humanitarian and media access, release of detainees and the start of an inclusive political dialogue.  It would have demanded that all parties work with the Envoy in implementing the 30 June guidelines of the Action Group on Syria for setting that plan in motion.

The Council established UNSMIS — for three months and with up to 300 unarmed military observers — in April to monitor a planned cessation of violence in Syria, as well as to monitor and support the full implementation of a six-point peace plan.  In mid-June, UNSMIS suspended its monitoring activities due to an escalation of violence.

The text would have renewed the mandate of UNMIS on the basis of the Secretary-General’s 6 July report (document S/2012/535), which recommends a reconfiguration of the Mission to increase support for dialogue with and between the parties and enhance attention to the political track and rights’ issues across the six-point plan.  It would have requested retention of the minimum observer capacity for that purpose.

In his report, the Secretary-General stresses the valuable role the Mission could continue to play.  Outlining options for its future orientation, he describes both withdrawal and the addition of a security component as highly problematic.  A final option — the risks for which, he suggested, might be the more acceptable — was retaining the core elements of the Mission, but refocusing it on activities within its mandate that could be achieved under current circumstances.

Such activities included strengthening the capacities for “good offices” to foster dialogue, brokering local-level agreements to calm tensions, promoting ceasefires between the sides, and deepening engagement.  If UNSMIS were reoriented in this manner, he said, the Mission would redeploy from the field to the capital to minimize security risks, retaining core civilian and military observer capacities to focus on the spectrum of initiatives feeding into the political process.  It could build up and expand its activities, if security or political conditions allowed.

Following the vote, supporters of the resolution underlined the extent of the continuing carnage and the inability of the Mission to operate following a long period during which they said that it was relying on what they called President Assad’s empty promises to stop the use of heavy weaponry and concentrated military force against population centres.  The resolution would not have set the stage for military intervention, they stressed, and was forged through a search for consensus.

Saying he was appalled at the double veto as the death toll reached 17,000 and counting, the representative of the United Kingdom said that putting the text under Chapter VII, by providing consequences for non-compliance, would have shown the seriousness needed to end the killing, providing support to the Joint Special Envoy’s six-point plan and helping the people of Syria avoid an all-out civil war.  The United States’ representative said such consequences for non-compliance were demanded by Mr. Annan, adding, “This is another dark day in Turtle Bay.”

The representative of the Russian Federation said that the sponsors knew well that there was no chance that the text in its current form would have been adopted, as his delegation felt it opened the door to military intervention.  The text did not rule out such intervention, would have fanned the flames of confrontation.  It directed its language mainly against the Government, despite the violence committed by the other parties, even after such events as yesterday’s attack in Damascus.  

Noting that the Russian Federation had submitted its own text, he said he would not try to put it to a vote, but instead work for a depoliticized text to allow the extension of UNSMIS’ mandate.  The representatives of China, Pakistan South Africa and others also prioritized extension of the mandate, including through a short, “technical” rollover.

Syria’s representative, speaking after Council members, said that a simple, practical text should have been adopted to extend the mandate of UNSMIS and aid the implementation of the six-point plan, which his Government strongly supported.  Instead, a one-sided text that sought external intervention had failed.  The success of Mr. Annan’s plan required political will, particularly on the part of those countries that had influence over the armed groups and could get them to stop their violence. 

He said that some countries wanted the Annan plan to fail, by creating a parallel track under the so-called Friends of Syria, through distorting facts and through giving the impression of a tyrannical regime that was killing its people.  On the contrary, those who wanted peaceful reform had been invited to engage in dialogue, but there were also groups bent on destruction, as well as terrorist groups from outside the country, as shown by yesterday’s attack in Damascus.

The representatives of France, Germany, India, Portugal, Guatemala, Morocco and Colombia also spoke.

The meeting opened at 10:25 a.m. and closed at 12:10 p.m.

Action on Resolution

Council President NÉSTOR OSORIO (Colombia) announced that, in line with the Council’s rule of procedure by which resolutions were taken up in the order in which they were submitted, the text proposed by France, Germany, Portugal, United Kingdom, and the United States (document S/2012/538) would be considered first.  The resolution submitted by the Russian Federation (document S/2012/538/Rev.2) could then be considered.

The first resolution was defeated by a vote of 11 in favour to 2 against (China, Russian Federation), with 2 abstentions (Pakistan, South Africa).

Statements

Speaking after the vote, MARK LYALL GRANT (United Kingdom) said he was appalled by the decision of Russia and China to veto the draft aimed at bringing an end to the bloodshed in Syria and creating the conditions for meaningful political progress.  That was the third time they had blocked efforts to address the crisis.  More than 14,000 innocent Syrian civilians had been killed since the violence had begun last year.  And, since then, the regime had intensified the use of heavy weaponry in population centres.  More than 100 civilians were killed daily.  The events in Damascus over the last 48 hours demonstrated the need for urgent and decisive action by the Council.  Meanwhile, the United Nations Supervision Mission in the Syrian Arab Republic (UNSMIS) had been rendered inoperable, owing to the dangerous security situation. 

Eight days ago, he said, the resolution just defeated had been proposed in an effort to change the situation on the ground.  Its logic was simple and clear:  to use the weight of the Council and the Arab League to bolster efforts to implement the Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point plan, aim to reduce the violence by all sides, and to create conditions for the political progress agreed by all diplomatic partners on 30 June.  The resolution had been put under Chapter VII as a clear signal to all parties that their commitments were binding.  Both the Secretary-General and Mr. Annan had repeatedly requested that the Council stipulate compliance with the six-point plan and that past resolutions on Syria be implemented.  That was precisely what today’s text sought to do. 

As a first step, he continued, it focused on the removal of heavy weapons, repeatedly affirmed by Mr. Annan and the Secretary-General and the move most likely to alter the dynamics on the ground.  Yet, throughout the negotiating process, Russia and China had chosen not to support the action by the envoy.  When it came to turning words into action, to implement the two Council resolutions they had supported, and improve security on the ground towards leading to a transition process, they had refused, arguing that Chapter VII was “somehow designed to seek military action through the back door”.  That was “irrational”.  The Council adopted many Chapter VII resolutions; this one was not under the Charter’s Chapter 42 and “could not be misconstrued as military intervention”.  Instead, it gave them more time. 

But still, he said, they refused to engage, advocating instead the same approach, relying on an “empty process”, the same one that had been broken with consistency since last November.  They had argued for a Mission extension in a manner that wilfully ignored the fact that it was currently unable to operate.  Russia and China failed in their responsibility as permanent Council members to help resolve the crisis, failing to support the envoy, failing to support the Syrian people, and, for the third time, blocking the attempt by the Council, supported by most of the international community, to try a new approach.  Their failure protected the brutal regime and put their national interests ahead of the lives of millions of Syrians, whose nation had spiralled into an all-out civil war.  The United Kingdom would continue to work with the envoy and the international community, deeply regretful that the Council had been unable to play the role for which it was established and duty-bound to fulfil. 

GÉRARD ARAUD (France) said he had hoped not to read out the “ghastly list” of Syrian deaths that had followed each of the vetoes by Russia and China.  Today, after more than 17,000 Syrian men, women and children had been killed, Russia and China had, for the third time, exercised their veto of the Council’s action.  “We have done all in our power since their double veto in February” towards meeting the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people, establishing rule of law and respect for human rights, and coalescing the international community around the envoy’s mission on the basis of past Council resolutions.  According to the transition plan agreed in Geneva on 30 June, “we, alongside Russia and China,” had agreed on future steps.  It was now clear the Russia merely wanted to “win time for the Syrian regime to smash the opposition”, by advocating only soft pressure through diplomatic contacts, and leaving the responsibility for implementation to the leadership.  The only thing it deemed pressing was to wait.

However, he said, the provisions adopted by the Council had been ignored by the Syrian regime, which had not even started to implement the first of those commitments.  The Council had demanded that it cease the use of heavy weapons; since then, the civilian population had been crushed by heavy artillery and attack helicopters.  The Secretary-General noted in his latest report that, between the bombardments, the regime had sent militias to cut the throats of the innocent.  In response, he, along with Mr. Annan, had called on the Council to ensure that its decisions were implemented.  That message had been echoed by the Secretary General of the Arab League and 107 States in Paris on 6 July.  But, that simple message had just “come up against the rejection of both Russia and China”. 

“Our draft,” he said, had included “but the threat of sanctions”, giving the regime 10 days to abide by its commitments — “long enough to put an end to the use of heavy weapons in civilian neighbourhoods and way too long when hundreds of people were dying daily”.  It was up to the Council to choose sanctions when it was deemed necessary.   It was wrong of Russia and China to have “vetoed” the Council’s work towards a peaceful solution to the crisis.  It was not possible to “call for a political solution [ad] infinitum”, and not grant Mr. Annan the tools he requested; that was to undermine the Mission itself.  This third veto meant that for Russia and China there would be no consequences for Syria and that it could continue to carry out its “horrible work” and that the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people would go unmet.  History would prove those countries wrong, and it would judge them.  It was doing so now. 

The resolution’s sponsors had pressed it to a vote aware that the vetoes would be cast, because they “could not be accomplices to false diplomatic action and paralysis”, he said.  That would show no responsibility and undermine the credibility of this lofty chamber.  He paid tribute to the men and women who sought relief, adding “this double veto will not stop us”.  France would continue to assist Syria’s democratic transition and work unstintingly to ensure that the regime’s violence was halted.  

PETER WITTIG (Germany) said that when the Syrian people had taken to the streets more than one year ago, their legitimate demands had been met by deadly force and increasing repression.  From the start, the Council had warned against spiralling violence.  It, along with the Arab League, had called on President Assad to embark on a process of credible political reform and had laid out a plan for a peaceful political process.  But, he had not listened.  The Council had thus sought action to stop the violence and human rights abuses and prevent a worsening of the situation.  It was well known to all why those attempts had failed.  More than 15,000 deaths later, Damascus was at war with the Syrian people.  With each passing day that the Assad regime escalated its violent repression, it became more difficult to convince those Syrians not to lose hope for a political solution.  According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the country was now in a civil war; the responsibility lay with President Assad to stop it.  But, he had failed to protect the Syrian people and broken all his commitments. 

As a first step in the six-point plan, the Syrian Government had to stop using heavy weapons, he said, adding it was President Assad himself who had made that commitment.  The Council supported those decisions and had sent observers to Syria, despite the severe risks and reservations.  But hopes in those resolutions were soon shattered.  Instead of implementing the plan, instead of silencing the weapons, Mr. Assad had unleashed tanks and helicopters.  The Council could not continue business as usual.  Mr. Annan was clear in what he expected from both Damascus and the Council:  President Assad must immediately stop the use of heavy weapons in populated areas, and the Council must insist on implementing its decisions and send a strong signal that there would be consequences for non-compliances.  Today’s resolution would have done that.  

Yes, he said, the text would have threatened sanctions, and it would have stressed that those shellings violated international humanitarian law and Council resolutions, and hindered any chance for a political process.  Ending the shellings, however, would have opened up space for a political transition.  The goal was to achieve Council unity, not to set the stage for military intervention or undermine Mr. Annan and the observer Mission.  It would not have been a silver bullet for peace, but it would have provided a chance, maybe the last one, to break the vicious cycle of violence.  Today was a lost opportunity.  “Together with our partners, we have tried our utmost,” in the belief it was “our moral responsibility”.  While the days of the Assad regime “are numbered”, the Syrian people were enduring unspeakable hardship.  Germany would continue to support those who shared the goals of peace and democracy.  One day, there would be a new Syria.  The regime should consider its future options, because one thing was certain:  there would be change.

RAZA BASHIR TARAR (Pakistan) said that violence in Syria was being attributed to both sides, but the results were unacceptable.  There was agreement that a Syrian-owned political process was the only solution, not further militarization.  Mr. Annan’s six-point plan had been a unifying force in the Council, as was the subsequent Mission to support it.  A united approach was still needed to support Mr. Annan’s efforts.  The divisive issues of Chapter VII should have been set aside for that purpose, and a more flexible approach used.  Pakistan, therefore, had no choice but to abstain from the vote.  He urged both sides to eschew violence, engage in dialogue and proceed towards a political solution.  The continuing presence of UNSMIS was critical and should not have been linked with other issues.  He proposed extension of the Mission for a short period pending further discussions.

HARDEEP SINGH PURI (India), condemning and extending condolences for the attack yesterday on high Syrian officials in Damascus, reiterated his support for the mission of Mr. Annan and the support from that mission provided by UNSMIS.  All parties had failed to fulfil their obligations under Mr. Annan’s six-point plan and must recommit themselves urgently to it.  Emphasizing the importance of a stable Syria and the complexity of the ground realities, he stressed the importance of continuing the presence of UNSMIS and addressing the crisis in a balanced and impartial manner.  He voted in favour today to support the implementation of the six-point plan, but it would have been better if Council members had shown more flexibility to gain consensus.  In spite of the vote, it was essential to extend the Mission’s mandate.  He pledged to continue to work tirelessly towards that end.

JOSE FILIPE MORAES CABRAL (Portugal) expressed disappointment at the results of the vote, as the resolution was meant to help stop the violence and violations of human rights through united, sustained pressure on all sides, and on the Syrian authorities in particular, with serious consequences for non-compliance.  Emphasizing the dire humanitarian situation, the long-term lack of implementation of the six-point plan, the continued shelling of the population, and the worsening of the situation in recent days, he said that the text was meant to halt that spiral.  The imposition of sanctions would not have been automatic and would not have allowed military intervention.  He pledged to continue work with the Council to support the goals of the Joint Envoy.

VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said the sponsors of the “just-blocked” resolution were well aware that it had no chance of adoption.  The Russian Federation had explained it could not accept a Chapter VII text to open the path to military intervention and sanctions.  Yet, for some reason, those Council members had failed to exclude military intervention.  Their calculation to use the Council and the United Nations to further their plans of putting their own pressures on sovereign States would not pass.  Instead of levelling insinuations against the Russian Federation, which throughout the conflict had provided key support for the Annan mission, those members had today made “unacceptable statements”.  They could have done something to promote dialogue with their Syrian counterparts, rather than fan the flames of conflict, including of Syrian terrorist groups, as they furthered their own “geopolitical designs”. 

In fact, he said, those Council members incited the crisis instead of, as they purported, attempting to settle it in accordance with the 30 June Geneva outcome.  The sponsors of the just-failed draft had also attempted to fan the flames of divide in the Council.  Their resolution was biased, and the sanctions levelled exclusively against Syria would run counter to the Geneva document and fail to reflect the realities in the country today, in particular following yesterday’s grave attack in Damascus.  Council members had refused to negotiate the Russian draft, which aimed to bring the Council together, further Annan’s plan and extend the United Nations Mission in Syria.  Continued confrontation in the Council was useless and counter-productive and he, therefore, would not submit his draft to a vote.  The Council should adopt a technical extension of the Mission’s mandate for a specific time period.  All responsible Council members and Syrian parties should be guided by the Special Envoy’s work.

GERT ROSENTHAL (Guatemala) said he had supported the resolution just adopted because it offered the best opportunity — perhaps the only one — to put an end to the “crazed violence” in Syria and to initiate a Syrian-led political transition.  The impediment to consensus was related to the resistance of some members to invoke the Charter’s Article 41, which contemplated the possibility of coercive measures in the case of non-compliance with Council decisions.  That same Article excludes punitive measures, such as the use of armed force, putting preventive diplomacy at the Council’s disposal.  The possible application of sanctions was “the least we could do, given the sequence of broken commitments on the part of the Government of Syria during the past months”.

He said he regretted the resolution’s rejection, first, because the Syrian people suffered daily the horrors of the spiralling violence and the barbaric acts could be attributed to both sides.  The main point was to curb the violence on both sides, the key to which was Government action.  He also regretted that Mr. Annan’s work was seriously compromised by the failure to adopt the text.  Finally, he regretted the impact of today’s action on the Council itself, and more generally, on the United Nations, whose prestige suffered a new blow.  The inability to achieve a unified position “marks a serious step backwards”.  The final irony was that what the text sought to prevent — an expansion of the violence — would perversely result in the opposite.  He urged all members of the international community to seek a solution that responded to the Syrian people. 

SUSAN RICE (United States) noted that it was the third time in 10 months that two permanent Council Members — Russia and China — had prevented the Council from meeting its responsibility in the Syrian conflict.  The first two vetoes had been very destructive; this one was even more dangerous and deplorable.  The text demanded that all parties cease the violence.  It invoked Chapter VII to make more binding the implementation of the six-point plan and the political transition plan agreed by the Action Group in Geneva.  The resolution threatened with sanctions the only party in the conflict with heavy weapons — the Syrian regime — if it continued to use those brutally against its own citizens and cities.  The resolution would not even impose sanctions at this stage, and despite the paranoia, and, disingenuous claims to the contrary, it would not authorize or even pave the way for foreign military intervention.  It would have provided political support to the United Nations Mission, which might have given it a fighting chance.  It was a shame the Council had been unable to do so. 

She said, undoubtedly, the only way unarmed United Nations observers could ever deter violence was if their report of Syrian violations of the Annan plan led the Council to impose swift and meaningful consequences for non-compliance, as demanded by the Special Envoy.  When voting for UNSMIS’ establishment three months ago, the United States was and remained deeply sceptical of Syria’s pledge to comply.  Indeed, week after week, the Secretary-General, the Special Envoy, and the Head of UNSMIS told the Council that the Assad regime continued to fire heavy weapons in population centres, torture citizens, and maintain a horrific posture of intimidation and detention.  It employed tanks and helicopter gunships and back militias that were terrorizing entire communities, including perpetrating sexual assaults on women and children.  Escalation of the regime’s attacks against its own people was even more troubling, given the large stockpiles of chemical weapons in the country.  Those must remain secure, and the regime would be held accountable for their use.  As the situation deteriorated, that was a possibility.  Use of those weapons against Syria’s own people should be “a concern for us all”. 

The fault for the unacceptable situation lay squarely with the “heinous Assad regime and those Member States that refused to join the international community and fellow Security Council members that refused to take firm action against the regime”.  Their position was at odds with those members that had voted for the resolution, at odds with the Arab League and the 100 Group of Friends of Syria countries and people that had called for Chapter VII Council action.  It was also at odds with the aspirations of the vast majority of the Syrian people, who “deserve so much better from this Security Council”.  The Security Council had failed utterly in the most important task on its agenda this year, she declared, adding “this is another dark day in Turtle Bay.”

DOCTOR MASHABANE (South Africa), strongly condemning the violence and huge loss of life in Syria, said it was urgent for both sides to stop the violence in all its forms and implement the six-point plan of Mr. Annan, for whom he expressed strong support.  The highest priority was to end the suffering of civilians.  It was clear that the violence was being conducted by more than one party, however.  He was disappointed that the Council had not acted on the extension of UNSMIS with the spirit of compromise, mutual respect and with the Council’s greater responsibilities in mind.  There was consensus on many issues and consensus could have been reached, but narrow interests were allowed to destroy unity of purpose.  A strong unified message was needed.  Today’s text threatened actions only against the Government, without providing consequences for other armed groups for continuing their violence.  Avowing that the Mission was a critical part of the effort to end the crisis, he said that South Africa stood ready to work in the Council to achieve an extension of its mandate, including through a technical roll-over for a very short term.

MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco) voted in favour of the resolution, because it was in line with the recent decisions of the Arab League and because other resolutions demanding a complete cessation of violence had not been complied with.  The text was consistent with the position of the Syria Action Group.  His support for the resolution was also due to his support for the work of the Joint Special Envoy.  The only loser today was the brotherly Syrian people and the region to which it belonged.  He had hoped that every Council member would have joined the common effort and remained united, building on previous resolutions.  The parties in Syria would not be able to quell the crisis on their own, it was clear, and for that reason, the Arab League had invited the Council to take strict measures within Chapter VII to help create conditions conducive for starting dialogue.  Those measures in no way included military intervention, but instead supported the six-point plan and UNSMIS, to which Morocco had contributed, in order to help find a peaceful resolution of the conflict.  He reiterated his firm intention to continue work to restore unity in the Council under Charter principles, and help restore hope to the people of Syria. 

LI BAODONG (China) expressed increasing concern over the violence in Syria and strongly condemned the killing of civilians and the bomb attack in Damascus.  He said it was critical to push for an immediate cease-fire and a peaceful solution.  UNSMIS had provided an essential role.  He supported the Secretary-General’s proposal for extending its mandate and better focusing its role.  The draft resolution, however, was counterproductive, as it had uneven content that put pressure on only one party, which would only derail the issue from the track of political settlement and undermine regional peace and stability.  He strongly supported Mr. Annan’s mediation efforts, along with the consensus on implementation of his plan forged in Geneva recently by the Action Group. 

China, he said, had no self-interest in the Syrian issue and reiterated that the crisis there should be resolved by Syrians themselves.  The purpose was safeguarding the interests of the Syrian people, as well as the basic norms covering international relations.  The discussions on today’s text harmed the unity of the Security Council, as the sponsoring countries took on a “rigid and arrogant approach” and refused to make revisions.  He said that unfounded accusations were made against China.  His country had participated in discussions in a positive and constructive manner, with the goal of implementing previous resolutions and the Annan six-point plan.  In contrast, a few countries had been eager to interfere in the internal affairs of Syria, and those countries had set up obstacles in extending the mandate of UNSMIS.  One could not help but question their support to UNSMIS and their sincerity in ending the crisis through a Syrian-led political process.  He urged them to support the extension of UNSMIS, including through a technical roll over, as had been proposed this morning.

Mr. OSORIO ( Colombia), speaking in his national capacity, said the violent repression begun last April had become more acute by the day.  The world was appalled at the dreadful human tragedy.  The unusual levels of violence and flagrant disrespect for human rights made it deplorable that the Syrian Government had not taken the necessary measures to implement the six-point plan or Council resolutions; nor had the opposition.  Colombia had voted in favour of the resolution because it believed it sent clear messages to all parties in Syria on the need to apply the Council’s resolutions and the Annan plan, as well as the Geneva agreement.  He deplored the fact that differences prevailed in the Council, which had prevented it from finding “a political way out, responding to the legitimate aspirations of all segments of Syrian society”.  He was not giving up on a political solution to the crisis that would contribute to ending the violence, stopping all human rights violations and finding ways for the Syrian people to build democratic institutions. 

Then, in his capacity as Council President, he announced that, at the request of the sponsor of draft resolution S/2012/538/Rev.2, the Council would not proceed to action.

BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria) said the tensions of the Syrian people had intensified, mainly due to what he had warned about for some time, namely the “suspicious coincidence” between Council meetings and terrorist acts.  That situation had just been repeated yesterday morning in Damascus.  Regrettably, the Council had not condemned that terrorist act, but gratefully, the Secretary-General and Mr. Annan had done so.  The absence of any condemnation by the Council could imply that the international community’s consensus to combat terrorism was “mere talk”.  It could also mean that the Council’s talk of supporting a peaceful solution in Syria was “but a slogan in order to gain time”. 

He said Syria had officially welcomed the Geneva outcome, especially the basic points about sovereignty and territorial integrity, and putting an end in Syria to human rights violations and to the actions of armed groups, as well as protecting Syrians and launching a Syrian-led political process.  The Syrian people alone must decide their future “without foreign intervention”.  If there were no objections to the Geneva plan, then he did not understand why the Council could not agree on a purely procedural matter to extend UNSMIS’ mandate, alongside those fundamentals agreed in Geneva.  It had become clear to all that the success of the Annan plan and of UNSMIS, in addition to the Syrian Government’s support, required a sincere commitment by the international community, especially those parties that had influence on the armed groups and armed opposition. 

Some circles with direct interest in fanning the flames of the crisis, however, distorted the facts and distorted the Syrian Government’s response to the crisis by advancing the idea of a tyrannical regime killing its unarmed people, he said.  The crisis was complex and multidimensional, with internal and external ramifications.  For those who were misguided and carried out destructive acts, “the road to return to their senses was still open”.  He said there was a terrorist group that had external support, which killed civilians and military personnel — even before the Council had devoted its attention to the situation.  The Syrian State could not counter their acts.  Those who had closed their embassies in Damascus did not know that armed groups had attacked electrical plants in Syria three times. 

He said that some countries from the outset had adopted a balanced and constructive position towards the crisis; others had interfered in a flagrant manner, “beating the drums of threats of war”, providing arms and logistical support to terrorist groups, and imposing 60 measures of illegal sanctions against the Syrian people.  “To those countries we say:  if you want to impose the laws of the jungle on others, and if you think that is a logical course of action, allow that first in your own countries.” 

Finally, he said, media reports of Syria’s intention to use chemical weapons “has no basis, whatsoever”.  All Syrians sought reconciliation and reconstruction, rather than Chapter VII Council action and external intervention.  The Council’s “memory” was “full of examples of disaster left on people” to whom those terms had applied.  Anyone who believed that those who had invaded Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya were interested in serving Syria’s interests was deluded.  Resolution of the crisis could only be Syrian-led, inclusive of the aspirations of the Syrian people, and aimed at establishing a democratic pluralist country where everyone enjoyed equality before the law and where political and economic opportunities were available to all.  Syria was interested in building a country strong enough to stand up to any aggression.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.