Reflections on Gen. Mood’s decision to stand down UNSMIS observers in Syria
On May 15, we wrote:
What will it take for the international community to recognize that by sending more monitors to Syria, it is adding to Bashar al-Assad’s panoply of human shields? Those shields protect him from military action to force him to halt the killing. They also short-circuit the thinking processes of the leaders of all countries who still–at this late date–support the Security Council’s 6-point peace plan.
It is time to dismantle the Kofi Annan 6-point peace plan. UNSMIS should be put into lockdown until al-Assad complies with the conditions in the peace plan, and withdrawn if he doesn’t.
How can this be achieved?
USMIS can be stopped the same way the Arab peace monitor mission was stopped–by countries withdrawing their members, and refusing to send any additional members to the delegation. When the UNSMIS mission comes up for an extension at the end of 90 days, it should be blocked by a majority of the Security Council.
–Stop the UN farce!—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #37 (May 15), May 15, 2012.
On May 22, we wrote:
(T)he UNSMIS mandate should not be extended past its present 90-day term. The observers currently in Syria should immediately be ordered to stand down, before they or their leaders or a significant number of them are killed by IEDs, RPGs, or other instruments of war. They are at great risk, as the recent attacks on them have demonstrated.
We should bear in mind the tragic fate of Sérgio Vieira de Mello (a potential future Secretary General) and some 20 other members of the U.N. Mission in Bagdad who were killed by bombs on August 19, 2003. The Mission was not adequately protected. The bombing not only had tragic consequences, but also led to a precipitate withdrawal of the United Nations from Iraq.
–U.S. Covert Action in Syria?—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #40 (May 22), May 22, 2012.
General Robert Mood should be applauded for taking the clear-headed decision to stand down the UNSMIS observers in Syria, before any of them were killed by bullets or bombs.
Sérgio Vieira de Mello’s security contractors told him he needed to move his office to another building, located further back from the street, due to the risk of a car-bomb explosion. Vieira de Mello was ending his tour and scheduled to leave Bagdad within a week or two. In the circumstances, he decided to leave the move to the next guy.
There was no next guy. Vieira de Mello, a very strong internal candidate to beome the next Secretary General of the United Nations, was killed, along with 20 other U.N. personnel, as a result of the bomb attack on U.N. headquarters in Bagdad on August 19, 2003.
General Mood’s decision comes none too soon. Given the fact that the unarmed observers had become targets of gunfire attacks and hostile mobs, the decision to stand down was the only reasonable decision under the circumstances.
If the Syrian government does not comply immediately with the cease-fire provisions of the Security Council’s 6-point plan, the UNSMIS observers should be withdrawn from the country as soon as possible.
The unarmed observers, and General Mood, have performed their duties with great valor, and should now be protected and withdrawn until such time as the factual predicates of their mission are fulfilled.
Briefing by General Robert Mood to closed meeting of Security Council, June 19, 2012.
On June 19, the head of UNSMIS, General Robert Mood, briefed the members of the Security Council at a closed meeting of consultations. Following the meeting, he, the Unter-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, and the President of the Security Council delivered informal remarks at a press stake-out outside the Council’s chambers. Links to the video and audio of their remarks are listed below.
(1) General Robert Mood and Hervé Ladsous, informal comments following closed Security Council meeting on June 19, 2012.
19 Jun 2012 – Informal comments to the media by Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations and Major General Robert Mood, Head of the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) Informal Remarks following closed session of Security Council on June 19, 2012.
(2) SC President, Li Baodong (China), informal comments following closed Security Council meeting on June 19, 2012.
SC President, Li Baodong (China) on Syria (19 June, 2012) – Security Council Media Stakeout
19 Jun 2012 – Informal comments to the media by H.E. Mr. Li Baodong, Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations and President of the Security Council for the month of June 2012 on the situation in Syria.
(3) Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari (Syria), informal comments following closed Security Council meeting on
Bashar Ja’afari (Syria) on Syria (19 June, 2012) – Security Council Media Stakeout
19 Jun 2012 – Informal comments to the media by H.E. Mr. Bashar Ja’afari, Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations on the situation in Syria.
Latest News Reports and Opinion
The New York Times reports,
…General Mood and his superior, Hervé Ladsous, the under secretary general for peacekeeping operations, who also appeared before the Council, indicated in their comments to reporters that the monitoring operation could not resume unless President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and his armed opponents honored the terms of the peace plan that first placed the monitors in Syria two months ago.
General Mood announced Saturday that he had suspended the patrols of his monitors because it was too dangerous amid the escalating violence, which Mr. Ladsous characterized last week as a civil war. The monitors have been continually threatened by gunfire and explosions, and were physically blocked on at least two occasions from promptly investigating evidence of civilian massacres that antigovernment activists said had been committed by Mr. Assad’s soldiers and loyalist militias. The Syrian government has denied any complicity in the killings.
By some estimates more than 3,000 Syrians have died since mid-April when the Annan plan was put in place in an attempt to end the conflict, which began in March 2011 as a peaceful antigovernment protest. Activist groups monitoring the violence in Syria reported that at least 30 people died Tuesday in hot spots around the country, including at least 10 in Homs and nine in the Damascus suburbs.
Earlier Tuesday, a Russian cargo ship carrying refurbished Russian-made attack helicopters to Mr. Assad’s military reversed course and headed back home after its insurance coverage was revoked by a leading British maritime insurer, the British foreign secretary, William Hague, told Parliament in London.
The ship, the 400-foot MV Alaed, owned by the Russian shipping company Femco, was tracked about 100 miles northwest of the Scottish coast early Tuesday, according to the Web site MarineTraffic.com. The state-owned Russian news agency Ria Novosti reported that it was carrying “a cargo of Mil Mi-25 attack helicopters” and “coastal-based antiship missiles” to Syria.
\–Rick Gladstone and Ravi Somaiya, “Doubt Is Cast on Mission by Monitors Inside Syria, New York Times, June 19, 2012.
Richard Spencer, “Telegraph view: West takes a step closer to Syria intervention; The halting of a ship carrying Russian helicopters bound for Syria seriously undermines Moscow’s anti-interventionist stance and brings the possibility of direct Western involvement in the crisis a step closer, according to the Telegraph’s Middle East Correspondent Richard Spencer,” The Telegraph, June 19, 2012 (with video).
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