Syria dissidents want arms as talks falters
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov says change in the Arab world ‘must not be achieved by misleading the international community or manipulating the Security Council’ at a Security Council meeting March 12.Western nations stepped up pleas to Russia and China yesterday to end their blockage on U.N. Security Council action against the Syrian government’s deadly assault on protest cities.
However Russia showed little sign it would change its stance, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov slamming “risky recipes” which he said risked increasing conflict in the Middle East.
Syria dominated a U.N. Security Council ministerial meeting on the Arab uprisings, which came as U.N. human rights investigator Paulo Pinheiro said civilians face a “desperate situation” and called for urgent action in Syria.
The bodies of 47 women and children were found in the restive Syrian city of Homs after a “massacre” that sent families fleeing the area, activists and the opposition said yesterday.
Syria’s information minister accused “terrorist gangs” of carrying out the killings. Hadi Abdallah, a Syrian activist in Homs, said the bodies of 26 children and 21 women, some with their throats slit and others bearing stab wounds, were found after a “massacre” in the Karm el-Zaytoun and Al-Adawiyeh neighborhoods of Homs.
“I appeal to the Security Council to unite strongly behind ending the violence and supporting Mr. [U.N.-Arab envoy to Syria Kofi] Annan’s mission to help Syria pull back from the brink of a deeper catastrophe,” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the meeting.
Russia and China have twice used their powers as permanent Security Council members to veto resolutions on Syria, saying they were unbalanced and only sought regime change.
The other permanent members -- the United States, Britain and France -- stepped up their condemnation of al-Assad but also urged Russia and China to agree on a resolution.
France’s Foreign Minister Alain Juppe appealed directly to Russia and China, while also demanding the council call for an International Criminal Court investigation into the Syria crackdown.
“After months of blocking, I appeal to China and Russia to hear the voices of the Arabs and the world conscience and join us,” Juppe said.
“We believe that now is the time for all nations, even those who have previously blocked our efforts, to stand behind the humanitarian and political approach spelled out by the Arab League,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the council. “The international community should say with one voice -- without hesitation or caveat -- that the killing of innocent Syrians must stop and a political transition must begin,” Clinton said.
“The situation in Syria casts a long shadow over this debate,” declared Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague, whose country organized the debate as president of the Security Council for March.
Still Lavrov maintained his argument against “unilateral” U.N. action and repeated Russia’s condemnation of NATO’s airstrikes in Libya to justify its opposition to the West’s campaign on Syria.
Change in the Arab world “must not be achieved by misleading the international community or manipulating the Security Council,” Lavrov said.
“There is no doubt whatsoever that the Syrian authorities bear a huge share of responsibility for the situation,” Lavrov said, but he added the government was now fighting armed groups, not just unarmed protesters. Lavrov condemned “making hasty demands for regime change, imposing unilateral sanctions designed to trigger economic difficulties and social tensions in countries and inducing the opposition to continue its confrontation with authorities instead of promoting dialogue.” All were, he added, “risky recipes of geopolitical engineering which can only result in a spread of the conflict.”
Compiled from AFP, AP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.
Syrian council wants military intervention
İPEK YEZDANİ - ISTANBULThe Syrian National Council has said the international community’s condemnation of the actions of Syria’s ruling regime will no longer satisfy the Syrian people and called on other Arab nations and the international community for an urgent military intervention in Syria in a press conference yesterday.
“The council has decided to arm the Free Syrian Army in order to protect civilians in Syria. We demand the urgent and systematic arming of the army by the international community,” council executive committee member George Sabra told journalists at a press conference together with leader Burhan Ghalioun and a limited number of journalists in Istanbul yesterday. The two will meet with U.N. envoy to Syria Kofi Annan in Ankara today.
Sabra said the Syrian regime has once again committed a massacre in Homs, where a number of women have been raped, and that the regime is trying to start a civil war in Syria. “We need practical decisions action against [Bashar] al-Assad’s gangs. We want the international community to create buffer zones and safe havens in order to protect Syrians whose lives are threatened. And we want Syrian airspace to be closed immediately,” Sabra said.