No ‘Plan B’ on Syria, UN chief Ban warns

No ‘Plan B’ on Syria, UN chief Ban warns

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
No ‘Plan B’ on Syria, UN chief Ban warns

Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan (R) holds talks with visiting UN chief Ban ki-Moon who hurt his hand while playing football. AA photo

The United Nations has no “Plan B” for Syria, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday, warning of a “catastrophic civil war” in the Arab republic and noting that there was no alternative to the Annan plan to halt the country’s violence.

“I demand that the government of Syria act on its commitments under the Annan peace plan. A united international community demands that the Syrian government act on its responsibilities to its people,” Ban told an Istanbul forum of the U.N.-led Alliance of Civilizations initiative on May 31. “We don’t have a Plan B yet,” he added in an interview with private broadcaster NTV.

“The massacres of the sort seen last weekend could plunge Syria into a catastrophic civil war, a civil war from which the country would never recover,” he said at the forum in reference to the massacre in the central town of Houla, in which at least 108 people, including 49 children, were killed, according to UN figures.

Ban called on Syria to stop its attacks, saying U.N. observers monitoring the cease-fire were not there to watch the killing of innocent people.

“We are there to record violations and to speak out so that the perpetrators of crimes may be held to account. We are not there to play the role of passive observer to unspeakable atrocities,” Ban said.

According to U.N. observers’ examinations, bullets and heavy armory show that the killings in Houla were conducted by forces of the regime, Ban said. “We believe the militias who are being mentioned are the pro-regime forces.”

Ban said it was impossible for the U.N. observers to stop the violence in Syria. “This is why I call [for] all the sides to stop the violence. Even though we are so worried about the ongoing violence there, it would be an early evaluation to say that we were successful or not. We are of course not successful yet. But first we have to evaluate the situation. It is very early to define the situation as a failure,” he said. “But I am leaning towards the steps to be taken by the international community in the future.”

An international team led by U.N. envoy to Syria Kofi Annan visited Syria on May 29 and called for “concrete gestures” from Damascus to halt the violence.

“Annan has expressed his concerns that we may have reached a tipping point in Syria,” Ban said.

The U.N. secretary general also dismissed talks of a clash of civilizations between the East and West over the Syria issue.

“We hear a great deal about the so-called clash of civilizations, the supposed rift between predominantly Muslim and Western societies,” he said. “This is not what is going on in Syria. There, it is the old story of a tyranny seeking to hold power.”

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, meanwhile, called on the world to pay heed to the desperation of families whose children are massacred in Syria.

“These are our children who are massacred in Hama, Homs and Houla, as much they are the children of desperate Syrian families,” Erdoğan said, adding that the world should not remain silent in the face of “oppression.”