Sunday, July 22, 2012

Russia, China savour diplomatic success

DUBAI, July 22, 2012

Russia and China savoured significant diplomatic success on Friday, after the U.N. Security Council agreed to their proposal not to threaten Syria with economic sanctions if it failed to live by a peace plan authored by the U.N. and Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan.

At a press conference, China's Permanent Representative to the U.N. Li Baodong said the resolution that was adopted showed that the Council is back on the right track and supports the plan of U.N. Envoy to Syria Mr. Annan to resolve the crisis.

The six point plan — authored by the Mr. Annan — calls for a ceasefire, the pull out of heavy weapons from population centres by the government and an intra-Syrian dialogue that would lead to peaceful political transition.

The Chinese envoy insisted the Syrians alone should be custodians of their future, and called upon "regional powers" — a likely reference to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran and Turkey who have been involved in the conflict — to recognise the dangerous fall out of instability in Syria on the region.

Far from being enthused by the changed resolution, Susan Rice, American envoy to the U.N., asserted that the 30-day extension for the monitoring team was "final," unless violence in Syria dropped appreciably. Her words seemed to signal that far from being satisfied with the status quo, the U.S. was looking beyond the U.N. route to change the script in Syria — a position that was likely to trigger another round of diplomatic warring with Moscow.

"The US will intensify our work with countries outside the UNSC — particularly the 100+ countries supporting the Friends of Syria process," she said, referring to the U.S.-led coalition, dominated by those countries that stood opposed to the Syrian regime led by President Bashar al-Assad.

Aware of the U.S. line of thinking, Russian President Vladimir Putin has already rejected the resolution of the conflict outside the U.N. framework. Speaking through his spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, Mr. Putin said any attempt to circumvent the Security Council would be ineffective and would undermine its reputation.

With the Syrian counter-offensive against the armed opposition fighters in Damascus — following Wednesday's suicide bombing that devastated the top rung of security establishment — gathering steam, refugees, some caught in the cross-fire, have begun streaming into neighbouring Lebanon. The refugee agency UNHCR said through its spokeswoman, Melissa Fleming, her organisation's figures showed that "there could be [refugees] anywhere from 9,000 to 30,000 that have fled across the border into Lebanon just in the last 48 hours".

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