Bitterness over Libya taints UN council`s Syria debate

Last Updated: Monday, January 9, 2012 - 00:13

United Nations: The UN Security Council this
week returns to the battle over Syria`s deadly crackdown on
protests -- but opponents of UN action, led by Russia, keep
trying to switch the debate to Libya.

Western nations have been infuriated and frustrated by
demands by Russia and others for an inquiry into the NATO
airstrikes in Libya which they use as a reason to oppose UN
action in Syria. US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, calls it
a "bogus" move, hiding other motives.

Diplomats predicted that Russia and its allies would
again raise Libya when top UN officials on Tuesday brief the
15 member Security Council on latest events in Syria and Arab
League efforts to end bloodshed.

Ten months into President Bashar al-Assad`s assault on
opponents, the council has still not passed a resolution on
the violence, which the UN estimates has left more than 5,000
dead.

Russia and China vetoed one European text in October --
calling it a first step toward "regime change" -- and
negotiations on a rival Russian text are deadlocked.

Rice and her Russian counterpart Vitally Churkin are
locked in a tense battle over Syria and whether NATO attacks
in Libya overstepped UN resolutions 1970 and 1973 passed in
February and March last year.

"In the brave new world, no-fly zone means free wheeling
bombing of the targets you choose to bomb," said Churkin.

Rice, a member of President Barack Obama`s cabinet, has
sternly rejected the accusations against NATO. In an interview
she gave details of the closed-door negotiations that
led to the Libya resolutions.

France and Britain led initially demands for the no-fly
zone. The United States launched into the diplomatic campaign
in the final 48 hours after initially doubting "the wisdom and
the efficacy of a no fly zone by itself", said Rice.

India and South Africa, which abstained on the European
text on Syria, appear to be maintaining their opposition and
using the Libya case.

"Susan Rice very correctly said `yes military operations
would have to be undertaken,`" said India`s UN envoy Hardeep
Singh Puri. But the resolution`s arms embargo had been
infringed and the council had not followed up its own calls
for a ceasefire, he charged.

"Clearly some on the council wanted the military
operation to complete its course and result in the removal of
the people there," Puri said.

Brazil has just left the council. With India and South
Africa it has argued for greater political efforts in Syria.

Brazil`s UN envoy, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti indicated that
the so-called IBSA countries (India, Brazil and South Africa)
felt under pressure from the West, on one side, and Russia and
China on the other.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, January 8, 2012 - 22:56

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