Posts Tagged ‘kofi annan peace plan’

Next steps in Syria: End UNSMIS observer mission, and send Kofi Annan home. Also, begin prosecutions of war criminals, and prepare for possible military action—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #60 (July 10)

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Latest News and Opinion

Editorial, “Annan’s failure” (Kofi Annan’s return to Damascus Sunday evening adds insult to injury after his admission over the weekend that his peace plan for Syria has failed), The Daily Star, July 9, 2012.

Raniah Salloum, “Annans Syrien-Mission: Das Palaver-Prinzip'; Kofi Annan will in Syrien weitermachen wie bisher – auch wenn Machthaber Baschar al-Assad keinen einzigen Punkt des Friedensplans umsetzt. Es ist nicht das erste Mal, dass Annan sich von einem arabischen Tyrannen vorführen lässt,” Der Spiegel, 10 Juli 2012.

“Russland schickt Kriegsschiffe nach Syrien; Der U-Boot-Zerstörer “Admiral Tschabanenko” und mehrere weitere Schiffe sollen sich auf dem Weg zum Stützpunkt Tartus befinden,” Die Presse (Wien), 10 Juli 2012.

Seth J. Frantzman, “Is Annan an accomplice to murder in Syria? The appointment of Annan sent a clear message to Assad that a representative was being sent who would provide cover for increased repression, ” Jerusalem Post, 10 July 2012.

End UNMIS Observer Mission, and Send Kofi Annan Home

Fortunately, there is cause for hope in Syria. It is theoretically possible that the UNSMIS observer mission will not be renewed, and that Kofi Annan will be sent home.

The UNSMIS authorization expires July 20. Any Security Council Permanent Member can block an extension by simply voting “no”. That means that either France or the U.K., or the U.S., acting alone, can end the observer mission, which has failed.

Talk of having truce observers act as mediators instead of observing the non-existent truce, is rubbish. It is time to get these courageous men and women out of harm’s way.

Kofi Annan’s ill-conceived and ill-starred mission as the joint Arab League and United Nations Special Envoy for Syria should end at the same time.

He is a loose cannon, now off to Iran to involve the Iranians in the Syrian question and its solution. Such efforts are directly contrary to U.S. policy and U.S. interests, and also those of Europe, NATO, and the Arab states.

Annan’s bias against the United States has been evident since his first news conference in Cairo, around March 10, when he assured the public his job was to prevent the  use of military force by some outside countries “as has unfortunately happened in the past.” The emotional intensity in his eyes and his voice when he spoke these words was unmistakable.

Many thousands in Syria have died because of the way Annan has defended the Russians’ and the Syrians’ interest in delay–with no external action to halt the killing. He has constantly fed false hopes and illusions to the Security Council and to the world.

His “mediation” with al-Assad, as the latter continued to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity, has achieved nothing. Absolutely nothing.

It is time for him to leave the stage. Whatever the next new scheme may be that he comes up with, whatever new castle in the sky he may be building, he must be shown the door.

Refocus on Halting and Punishing the Commission of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity

Instead of listening to Kofi Annan–for one second longer, what the international community should be focusing on are actions based on bedrock principles of international law:

1) the Syrian regime must immediately cease its commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other violations of fundamental human rights; and

2) those responsible for the commission of war crimes or crimes against humanity should be held accountable, either pursuant to a Security Council referral and grant of jurisdiction to the International Criminal Court (ICC), or as the result of prosecutions carried out in individual countries which have legislation authorizing the exercise of “universal jurisdiction” over individuals charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity and other international crimes.

Should Russia or China veto a Security Council resolution granting such jurisdiction to the ICC, under a Chapter VII resolution, then countries willing to support such prosecutions by individual states should make arrangements for the sharing of information and expenses necessary to proceed with these prosecutions in an expeditious manner. The first investigations should be launched at once.

In addition, if the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Syrian regime continues, a “coalition of the willing” should be formed to undertake such military action as may be required to halt these atrocities, at the earliest possible moment.

In sum, it is time to both end the UNSMIS mission in Syria, and to remove Kofi Annan from the stage. It is time to begin prosecutions against those accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is time to form a “coalition of the willing” to bring the ongoing commission of such crimes to a halt, by the use of military force if so required–with or without Security Council authorization.

The Trenchant Observer.

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William Hague (March 22): “We will not forget the people of Syria for a single day.”—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #33 (May 1)

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

There is a tendency to lose interest in the events on the ground in a country like Syria, after so much newsprint has been expended, after so many fine minds have grappled with the issues, when the morass continues to unfold in its relentless everydayness.

However, we should not forget why Syria is sliding deeper and deeper into civil war.

First, Barack Obama and the United States have refused to assume the mantle of leadership of what we used to call “the free world”. He has refused to stand up–through his actions–for the values upon which our civilization is based. In Syria, he seems to have actively blocked effective military action by others, and undoubtedly urged the Secretary General of NATO to issue public statements to the effect that NATO would under no circumstances intervene in Syria. Absent American leadership, the civilized countries of the world are leaderless, and unable to act to stop the killing in Syria.

Second, Russia and China have defended al-Assad, with their veto power and vetoes in the Security Council, against the adoption of effective measures to contain the violence in Syria.

This is why the Security Council was unable to act in 2011.  Russia’s and China’s obstruction of effective Security Council action was most obvious when they vetoed a draft Security Council resolution on October 4, 2011–when the estimated death toll stood at 2,700–and on February 4, 2012.  But it has also been evident in the shaping of the Security Council’s responses to Syria since February 4. The two resolutions that have passed (2042 and 2043) clearly serve the immediate interests of the Russians and their partners in defending al-Assad, the Chinese.

Third, the Security Council has backed Kofi Annan’s 6-point peace plan for Syria, first in a “presidential statement” on March 21, 2012, and subsequently with Security Council Resolutions 2042 and 2043 on April 14 and April 21, respectively.

Those six points are worth recalling:

“To this aim, the Security Council fully supports the initial six-point proposal submitted to the Syrian authorities, as outlined by the Envoy to the Security Council on 16 March 2012, to:

(1) commit to work with the Envoy in an inclusive Syrian-led political process to address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people, and, to this end, commit to appoint an empowered interlocutor when invited to do so by the Envoy;

(2) commit to stop the fighting and achieve urgently an effective United Nations supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties to protect civilians and stabilize the country. To this end, the Syrian government should immediately cease troop movements towards, and end the use of heavy weapons in, population centres, and begin pullback of military concentrations in and around population centres. As these actions are being taken on the ground, the Syrian government should work with the Envoy to bring about a sustained cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties with an effective United Nations supervision mechanism. Similar commitments would be sought by the Envoy from the opposition and all relevant elements to stop the fighting and work with him to bring about a sustained cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties with an effective United Nations supervision mechanism;

(3) ensure timely provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting, and to this end, as immediate steps, to accept and implement a daily two hour humanitarian pause and to coordinate exact time and modalities of the daily pause through an efficient mechanism, including at local level;

(4) intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons, including especially vulnerable categories of persons, and persons involved in peaceful political activities, provide without delay through appropriate channels a list of all places in which such persons are being detained, immediately begin organizing access to such locations and through appropriate channels respond promptly to all written requests for information, access or release regarding such persons;

(5) ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists and a non-discriminatory visa policy for them;

(6) respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully as legally guaranteed.

39 days have passed since the Security Council’s “presidential statement” on March 21 endorsing the 6-point peace plan put forward by Kofi Annan. None of the provisions of the peace plan have been observed on the ground, and there appears to be zero likelihood that they ever will be.

The greatest and most fatal flaw in the plan is that even if it were to succeed, it would leave Bashar al-Assad in power.

The plan has provided a smokescreen behind which the U.S. and other countries can pretend they are doing something, when they are not. The United States, moreover, seems determined to prevent other countries from acting on their own to intervene with arms or military forces in Syria to stop the killing.

So, there we have it. No leadership from Obama. Russia and China determined to block any military action or supply of weapons to the opposition. And the Security Council continuing to play al-Assad’s fool’s game of “permitting” the peace observers sent by the U.N. to “observe” what is going on.

Nothing is lilely to change, so long as none of the above key factors is changed.

Yet we should not give up. We should never forget the people of Syria for a single day. They represent the aspirations and immediate political goals of billions of people throughout the world. As U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague declared on March 22,

Assad should step aside in the best interests of Syria and the unity of its people. One year after the regime first tried to stamp on dissent, allowing a genuine dialogue on transition would be the most fitting way to mark this tragic anniversary. Until it does, we will not forget the people of Syria for a single day (emphasis added).

–William Hague, “Op-ed: UK Foreign Secretary William Hague vows not to forget Syrian people for a single day,” ynetnews.com/Israel Opinion, March 22, 2012.

The Trenchant Observer

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For links to other articles by The Trenchant Observer, click on the title at the top of this page to go to the home page, and then consult the information in the bottom right hand corner of the home page. The Articles on Syria page can also be found here.

With al-Assad defiant, freeze on UNSMIS, military action required—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Upadate #29 (April 24)

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

In view of Bashar al-Assad’s (entirely foreseeable) refusal to comply with the provisions of Security Council Resolution 2042 (April 14, 2012) and Resolution 2043 (April 21, 2012), what is to be done?

The entire Kofi Annan 6-point peace plan was built on a flawed concept of negotiating with a war criminal while he continued to commit crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other grave violations of fundamental human rights, on a very wide scale. The Devil’s Bargain that was sought was the Dictator’s cessation (or reduction) in the commission of these crimes in exchange for non-intervention by outside powers and a “Syrian-led” process of negotiations between the government and the opposition which would lead to, as its only logical outcome, the Dictator remaining in power. The flawed concept put all of the cards in al-Assad’s hands, and those of his Russian backers.

Security Council Resolution 2043, creating the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), was based on a continuation of the flawed 6-point peace plan, and the further assumption that the introduction of 300 unarmed U.N. observers in Syria, with a mandate to observe but not to protect the civilian population, would somehow bring the violence to a halt.

Instead of introducing peace observers after a truce had taken hold, Annan and the Security Council decided to try to use the U.N. observers to force al-Assad to halt the killing.  The Security Council and Annan continued to delude themselves by giving credence, even the slightest credence, to the commitments on paper which al-Assad and his officials signed.

Caught up in the process of getting permission from al-Assad for this or that–the latest being an agreement on the status of the observers and their mission, members of the Security Council mistook paper progress for real progress on the ground, as fresh assaults on cities and towns continued.

What is to be done?

Al-Assad and the Russians and the Chinese appear to have calculated that the 6-point peace plan of Kofi Annan and the establishment of a U.N. observer mission would provide a shield for the al-Assad regime against any foreign military intervention to halt the killing–i.e., the wanton commission of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

So far, their calculation appears to have been accurate.

What should the West, the Arab countries, and the civilized world do now?

They can wait for 90 days as al-Assad plays games with the U.N. observers, while continuing his atrocities. That is the course of inertia, and what is likely to occur absent strong leadership from some quarter.

That leadership should come from Barack Obama and the United States, but we have observed for a very long time Obama’s lack of resolve in confronting either al-Assad or Vladimir Putin and the Russians. He appears fixated on electoral politics, even at the cost of the national interest, and in addition seems to have a character which abhors confrontation of any kind.

Recommendations

1. Given Syria’s defiance on the ground with the provisions of Security Council Resolutions 2042 and 2043, the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) should immediately be placed in lock-down status until Bashar al-Assad complies with the cessation of hostilities provisions of Resolutions 2042 and 2043.

These unarmed U.N. observers should not be placed in the middle of an ongoing armed conflict, much as the Dutch U.N. peacekeepers were dispatched to Srebrenice without the mandate and means to defend the population of the city against the commission of genocide.

Additional members of UNSMIS should not be deployed to Syria until the conditions detailed above have been met.

2. Great Britain, the United States and France should take the lead in preparing a draft U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the use of “all necessary measures” to protect the civilian population of Syria against crimes against humanity, and to halt the commission of war crimes against armed insurgents by the Syrian regime.

The text of the draft resolution prepared by these civilized nations should be made public, and placed on the agenda of the Security Council for debate.

After a short but appropriate time for negotiation of a consensus with the Russians and the Chinese, the resolution should be put to a vote.

If the reolution is vetoed by Russia or China or both, nations in a position to do so should then use military force to stop al-Assad and the commission of crimes against humanity and war crimes by his forces. Such action would be consistent with international law.  The legal justifications have been set forth in earlier articles by the Observer.

3. The United States and other countries in a position to do so should, under  the direction of a small and integrated military coordination committee, immediately move to deploy their military assets to the region of Syria so that they may be placed into action on short notice.

A second U.S. aircraft carrier is already in the Persian Gulf.  Additional measures should be taken on an extremely urgent basis.

This is what should be done.  For history.  For stability in the Middle East, and beyond. For our own conception of who we are. For humanity.  Pour l’humanité.

The Trenchant Observer

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For links to other articles by The Trenchant Observer on this topic, and others, click on the title at the top of this page to go to the home page, and then consult the information in the bottom right hand corner of the home page. The Articles on Syria page can also be found here.

Security Council issues “presidential statement”; al-Assad’s military onslaught continues unabated—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #14 (March 22)

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

On March 21, 2012, the U.N. Security Council unanimously endorsed the issuance of a “presidential statement” on Syria which was notable primarily for its support by Russia and China. The statement reiterated the proposals Kofi Annan took to Damascus and presented to Bashar al-Assad on his recent visit to Syria–which were not made public previously.

Al-Assad’s response was to continue shelling cities and towns, and to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity–today.

See

“UN peace push fails to halt Syria violence; Ten civilians fleeing to Turkey on a bus among dozens killed, as violence rages despite Security Council statement,” Al Jazeera, March 22, 2012 (20:02 h)

“Syria: Government Uses Homs Tactics on Border Town; Indiscriminate Shelling, Sniper Killings, Attacks on Fleeing Residents,” Human Rights Watch, March 22, 2012.

Alastair Beach, “UN finally agrees peace plan for Syria – but will it end bloodshed? Russia and China fall into line – but Ban Ki-moon admits fallout from conflict could spread through the region,” The Independent, March 22, 2012.

Ariel Zirulnick, “Syria thumbs its nose at the UN; Despite a UN statement yesterday calling for an end to the violence, which was backed even by Syria ally Russia, 82 people were killed yesterday in clashes around the country,” Christian Science Monitor, March 22, 2012.

“Bürgerkrieg in Syrien; Assad-Truppen rücken gegen Protesthochburgen vor; Alle Appelle der Uno verpuffen: In Syrien sind erneut heftige Kämpfe zwischen Aufständischen und der Assad-Armee ausgebrochen, unter anderem in Daraa, Sabadani und Hama. Nach Angaben von Aktivisten schießen die Regierungstruppen mit Panzern in Wohnviertel,” Der Spiegel, den 22 März 2012.

(Le Monde.fr avec AFP et Reuters), “Répression en Syrie: des roquettes tombent sur le Liban,” Le Monde, le 22 mars 2012 (mis à jour à 15h58).

The statement contains contradictory provisions, with one calling for an immediate ceasefire and another calling for a two-hour “pause” in the fighting to allow humanitarian relief through and the wounded to be evacuated from areas of fighting.

Unfortunately, although the Council’s peace plan contains many positive elements, it has no legal force, and even provisions that would have required a response from al-Assad within seven days were eliminated in order to get the Russians to sign on to the statement.

The text of the operative paragraphs of the March 21 Presidential Statement (U.N. Doc. S/PRST/2012/6) follow:

“To this aim, the Security Council fully supports the initial six-point proposal submitted to the Syrian authorities, as outlined by the Envoy to the Security Council on 16 March 2012, to:

(1) commit to work with the Envoy in an inclusive Syrian-led political process to address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people, and, to this end, commit to appoint an empowered interlocutor when invited to do so by the Envoy;

(2) commit to stop the fighting and achieve urgently an effective United Nations supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties to protect civilians and stabilize the country. To this end, the Syrian government should immediately cease troop movements towards, and end the use of heavy weapons in, population centres, and begin pullback of military concentrations in and around population centres. As these actions are being taken on the ground, the Syrian government should work with the Envoy to bring about a sustained cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties with an effective United Nations supervision mechanism. Similar commitments would be sought by the Envoy from the opposition and all relevant elements to stop the fighting and work with him to bring about a sustained cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties with an effective United Nations supervision mechanism;

(3) ensure timely provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting, and to this end, as immediate steps, to accept and implement a daily two hour humanitarian pause and to coordinate exact time and modalities of the daily pause through an efficient mechanism, including at local level;

(4) intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons, including especially vulnerable categories of persons, and persons involved in peaceful political activities, provide without delay through appropriate channels a list of all places in which such persons are being detained, immediately begin organizing access to such locations and through appropriate channels respond promptly to all written requests for information, access or release regarding such persons;

(5) ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists and a non-discriminatory visa policy for them;

(6) respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully as legally guaranteed.

“The Security Council calls upon the Syrian government and opposition to work in good faith with the Envoy towards a peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis and to implement fully and immediately his initial six-point proposal.

“The Security Council requests the Envoy to update the Council regularly and in a timely manner on the progress of his mission. In the light of these reports, the Security Council will consider further steps as appropriate.”

Delay is the enemy. Russia and China vetoed the Security Council resolution aimed at stopping the atrocities on February 4, 2012. Thousands have died as a result of the delay in concerted international action which has occurred to date. Today is March 22.

Thousands more will undoubtedly die before the Security Council authorizes action that can stop the killing by al-Assad, if indeed it can ever reach that point given Russia’s brazen support of the Syrian Dictator as government forces continue to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Syrian population.

What is needed is a Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire, period. Al-Assad’s promises are worthless. What counts is his and Syria’s actions on the ground in implementing the ceasefire.

What is llkely, however, is more delay, while al-Assad proceeds with his murderous onslaught against the oppostion to his reign of terror. Russia, by arguing for not making demands on al-Assad, not setting deadlines, continues its perfidious game of acting to maintain Bashar al-Assad in power and to protect its perceived interests with its last client state in the Middle East (and practically anywhere else). These interests include the maintainance of military-technical cooperation, the naval base at Tartus, and Russia’s communications and listening post for the region.

These are the hard realities.

Watch what is going on in Syria on the ground, not what the diplomats are saying. Words alone will not stop the tanks and artillery that are bombarding civilian population centers, apartment buildings and homes throughout Syria–today.

The sole priority for the Security Council–and all other actors–should be an immediate cessation of hostilities. This demand should not be linked in any way to other demands, such as that for the initiation of a political dialogue (listed as point 1 in the presidential statement!).

The demand for an immediate ceasefire should be contained in a legally binding Security Council resolution. Compliance should be measured by facts of the ground.

Western, Arab, and other civilized nations should–with the greatest urgency–prepare options for the use of military force to bring the killing to a halt.

See Michael O’Hanlon, “What Are Our Military Options in Syria?” The New Republic, March 19, 2012.

Delay is the enemy. Action is required. Leadership–from any quarter–is also required.

We should not forget the people of Syria “for a single day”. In the words of British Foreign Secretary William Hague,

Assad should step aside in the best interests of Syria and the unity of its people. One year after the regime first tried to stamp on dissent, allowing a genuine dialogue on transition would be the most fitting way to mark this tragic anniversary. Until it does, we will not forget the people of Syria for a single day (emphasis added).

–William Hague, “Op-ed: UK Foreign Secretary William Hague vows not to forget Syrian people for a single day,” ynetnews.com/Israel Opinion, March 22, 2012.

The Trenchant Observer

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www.twitter.com/trenchantobserv

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