27th Oct 2016

EU and Arab countries put forward new UN resolution on Syria

  • Mural in UNSC chamber. Churkin: 'This is an effort by the Arab League, if I understand correctly, to put a pre-cooked solution on the table' (Photo: United Nations Photo)

EU countries on the UN Security Council and a handful of Arab states have put forward a new resolution on Syria. But Russia - a veto-wielding country - is unlikely to let it fly.

France, Germany, Portugal and the UK together with Jordan, Morocco, Qatar and Saudi Arabia unveiled the three-page text - published by Washington Post blogger Colum Lynch - in New York on Wednesday (25 January).

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The draft resolution calls on Syrian President Bashar Assad to "facilitate a political transition, leading to a plural political system ... and fair elections" in a process to be overseen by the Arab League.

It "demands" that "all parties in Syria, including armed groups immediately stop any violence or reprisals" and urges UN countries to "prevent" the flow of weapons into Syria, which "fuels the violence."

It says that the recently-arrived, 165-strong Arab League monitoring mission - the only international presence let into the country since unrest began almost a year ago - should be allowed to stay longer.

It also calls for world media to get free rein to "determine the truth about the situation" and makes clear that Assad and his security forces "must be held accountable" under international law.

Russian UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin already criticised the Arab-League-controlled transition idea after the league first floated it on Sunday, saying: "This is an effort by the Arab League, if I understand correctly, to put a pre-cooked solution on the table."

For his part, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has accused Nato countries of trying to start a war with Assad and noted that they want to delete a line from a Russian draft UN resolution forbidding foreign military action.

The Russian resolution in late December "[ruled] out any military action from the outside."

It also voiced "concern at the illegal supply of weapons to the armed groups in Syria."

The Russian clause on weapons is designed to stop alleged clandestine deliveries of guns to the Syrian Free Army by Western countries via Turkey. But the new EU and Arab text would stop Russia from legally selling arms to Assad.

Lavrov at his press conference confirmed that a Russian trader shipped guns and ammunition to Syria - its regional ally since Cold War times - via Cyprus earlier this month.

In a further show of defiance, Russian media this week reported that it will sell Syria 36 military jets worth $550 million.

A UNSC vote on the new resolution is expected in the next few days.

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