International pressure mounts on Syria
Arab and European countries circulate UN resolution condemning rights violations, as many more killed in violence.
|Russia’s FM Lavrov has described the violence in Syria as “quite similar to a true civil war” [Reuters]
Diplomatic pressure on the Syrian government has escalated as a UN resolution that would condemn the country’s human rights violations has received support from several Arab nations.
In a growing sign of regional opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on democracy protests, a draft resolution circulated by European countries to the General Assembly’s human rights committee on Thursday was backed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and Morocco.
The European and arab co-sponsors decided to press for the resolution after the 22-member Arab League suspended Damascus on Wednesday over the crackdown and threatened economic sanctions if the government continued to violate an Arab-brokered peace plan. It gave Assad’s government three days to halt the violence, which the UN estimates has killed more than 3,500 people, and accept an observer mission.
At least 22 people, including 18 civilians and four defected soldiers, were killed on Thursday, bringing the two-day toll to 49 dead, Syrian activists said.
Mark Lyall Grant, the British ambassador to the UN, said the draft resolution was the result of close consultations with the Arab League, and he urged the human rights committee to show “that the UN will not allow atrocities in Syria to go unchallenged.”
If the resolution is approved by the human rights committee, it is virtually certain to be adopted by the 193-member General Assembly. While resolutions approved by the assembly are not legally binding, they do reflect world opinion.
“True civil war”
Amid reports of violence on Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters that the West and the Arab League should not just single out President Assad over the violence, but also urge restraint from the opposition.
“Today I saw a television report about some new so-called rebel Free Syrian Army organising an attack on the government building, on the building belonging to Syria’s armed forces,” he told reporters.
“This was quite similar to a true civil war.”
Russia and China last month vetoed a council resolution condemning the deadly crackdown on the eight-month-old uprising which the UN says has caused at least 3,500 deaths.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticised the international community on Thursday for remaining indifferent to the events in Syria because the country is not rich in oil.
“The silence and indifference of those who spoke out against Libya to the massacres in Syria create irreparable wounds on the human conscience,” Erdogan said at an international energy conference in Istanbul.
Erdogan’s comments came just after the leader of Syria’s exiled Muslim Brotherhood said that his compatriots would accept Turkish “intervention” in the country to resolve months of bloody unrest.
“The Syrian people would accept intervention coming from Turkey, rather than from the West, if its goal was to protect the people,” Mohammad Riad Shakfa, Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood leader, said in Istanbul.