Guns and diplomacy: Militarizing the Syrian conflict
| Saturday, 02.11.2012, 06:15 PM

Russia and China vetoed the latest UN Security Council resolution Saturday on the ongoing violence in Syria because it leaves out sanctions on the opposition alongside those on the Assad government, and leaves out Russian proposals.
Moscow says it had no other option but use its veto right, claiming the draft didn't realistically reflect the situation in Syria, and a result could have sent an unbalanced signal to all sides of the conflict.
“The Russian delegation was forced to vote against this draft resolution. We seriously regret this outcome of our joint work,” stated Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin. 
Russia and China were the only voting members to oppose the draft. And as permanent members of the UNSC, they had the option to use veto power to block the draft's passage.
Beijing and Moscow have both taken issue with the draft's vague wording, which they say leaves the door open for possible international military intervention in Syria and creates a picture of the current situation that favors opposition forces over the Assad government.
The vetoes triggered blistering reprimands of both countries from the other 13 members in the chamber, all of whom had voted in favor. “The United States is disgusted,” the U.S. envoy, Susan Rice, said in accusatory tones rarely seen at the UN. She added that Russia and China should consider themselves “complicit” in massacres committed by the al-Assad regime. 
“Any further blood that flows will be on their hands.”
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said that resolution's Western co-sponsors had not included key proposals such as isolating the Syrian opposition from violent extremist groups or a call to arms for other states to use their influence to prevent such alliances.
“Unfortunately, some of our colleagues choose to make rather bizarre interpretations of the Russian proposals,” the Russian UN Ambassador said.
Russia and China reminded others that it was not their place to intervene in another country's domestic affairs and Churkin said Russia had been accused of rewriting Arab League resolution drafts. 
After heated political debates leading up to the votes, U.S. President Barack Obama urged the international community to protect the Syrian people from “abhorrent brutality.”
Medvedev: UN resolution would have brought no peace to Syria 
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has clarified the reasons behind Moscow’s veto on the UN resolution on Syria for the prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Before calling Medvedev on Wednesday, Erdogan promised to launch “a new initiative” with countries “standing by the Syrian people, not the Syrian government.” 
Noting Turkey’s leading role in the region, Medvedev insisted the crisis in Syria should be settled by the Syrian people themselves, without any foreign interference.
“The UN document would not have facilitated resolving the crisis in a peaceful way,” Medvedev said. "An objective, balanced” document is required for Syria, to tell both the Syrian regime and the opposition to end the bloodshed, he added. The pair have agreed to coordinate their efforts. 
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov called the Western reaction “hysterical,” saying Moscow cannot afford a one-sided approach, which disregards the violent role of the Syrian opposition.
Lavrov: Assad ready for talks, “fully commits” to end violence 
Syria’s President Assad has agreed to talks with the opposition and will follow the Arab League’s roadmap, increasing the number of observers in the country, even in the most hostile areas in Syria.
This follows talks with the Russian delegation headed by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday. 
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has announced that President Assad has agreed to send a government delegation to Moscow to meet with representatives of the opposition.
Assad stands firm in his resolve to stop violence in his country, wherever it should come from, said Lavrov. The parties reaffirmed using the Arab League’s initiative to find “a swift way out of the crisis.”
Assad said he is ready for talks with the opposition, agrees to keep the Arab League's peace plan, said he wishes to boost the number of monitors and continue the league's mission, and will end the violence while allowing parliamentary elections and a vote on a new constitution. Russia said will coordinate talks between Assad and the opposition. 
Damascus is also to shortly announce a national referendum to draw up a new constitution. According to President Assad, the text of the new constitution has already been drafted and will soon be published. It is set to deprive the ruling political party of its monopoly and officials expect the referendum to be set for March. Afterward the country will go to parliamentary polls, so far planned for May.
The opposition Syrian National Council replied it does not object to Russia mediating the talks.
British, Qatari troops already waging secret war in Syria?
British and Qatari troops are directing rebel ammunition deliveries and tactics in the bloody battle for Homs, according to an Israeli website known for links to intelligence sources.
Four centers of operation have been established in the city with the troops on the ground paving the way for an undercover Turkish military incursion into Syria. The Debkafile site said the presence of British and Qatari troops in Homs topped the agenda of Tuesday’s talks between Assad’s officials and head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service Mikhail Fradkov.
The scenario painted by the report closely resembles Libya’s collapse into anarchy. UN Security Council resolution 1973 forbade any ground troops from intervening in Libya while creating a pretext for NATO to launch a bombing campaign against Muammar Gaddafi’s troops.
However Qatar, Britain and France later said they sent units to assist rebels. Secret French weapons drops were found and there were also unconfirmed reports of Western special forces. 
The Pentagon and its allies proposed the creation of a humanitarian corridor in Syria with a view to delivering supplies and humanitarian aid to Syrian civilians, but critics liken it to Libya's no-fly zone.
White House talks peace, Pentagon 
prepares for war
The White House is saying “no” to arming opposition and other military involvement in the Syrian conflict – for the moment. Pentagon and U.S. Central Command launched a review of U.S. military capabilities in case that “no” turns a “yes.”
The backdoor for military action was ajar with State Department, with spokesman Victoria Nuland saying that U.S. never takes any option off the table, even though they “don't think more arms into Syria is the answer." It appears the Pentagon has a similar view. 
Two senior administration officials told CNN that “options are being prepared” for Obama. Support for opposition groups and outright military strikes are among the options being looked at. 
Obama said in an interview Sunday that he believes it is possible to resolve the conflict peacefully “without recourse to outside military intervention.” However, some congressional lawmakers, including Arizona's Republican Senator John McCain, called for the U.S. to explore the prospect of arming opposition forces in Syria.  "We should start considering options, arming the opposition," McCain said. "The bloodletting has got to stop."
The U.S. and other Western powers are wary of engaging closely with would-be rebel forces without the legal protection of UN resolution, similar to the one that was passed in the case of Libya. But after Russian and Chinese vetoes, they may be looking at other options. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has vowed to strengthen existing sanctions against the Syrian regime and to add further ones. 
The UK and U.S. simultaneously withdrew their ambassadors to Damascus Monday, with the UK Foreign Secretary calling President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime “murderous and doomed.” Italy, Spain and France reportedly recalled their ambassadors from Syria on Tuesday. Gulf Cooperation Council countries did the same while expelling Syrian ambassadors from their nations. 
UN, Arab League to get stronger observer mandate in Syria
The Arab League and UN are also considering a joint mission to Syria. It must be stronger in numbers and equipment, and the mandate different, they said, and Assad has reportedly agreed to it. 
The UN chief Ban ki-moon told reporters that Arab League Secretary, General Nabil al-Arabi intends to revive the Arab League observer mission in Syria. 
Ban Ki-moon said the United Nations was ready to help, but indicated no decision had been taken, and also said he believed the failure to reach an agreement at the UNSC could be disastrous for Syrians. 
Death and diplomacy: 
Homs on the brink
Homs is now the physical and political frontline of the unrest engulfing Syria. Heavy fighting continues in the rebel stronghold city, about 100 miles north of Damascus.
Contradicting reports are coming from Free Syrian Army and Government sources, with little verification from either side. Hundreds have reportedly died with many coming from Homs. 
The opposition blames the army for using tanks, mortars and heavy machine-guns. The government says that armed terrorist groups had attacked police roadblocks and other targets with mortars of their own. 
Syrian Special Forces report a major offensive success against militants in residential quarters in Homs.
The military insists militants were given a chance to surrender, but instead the gangs imposed a regime of terror on Homs civilians, attacking and murdering citizens. 
While activists say that Assad’s government has basically bombed some parts of the city, the government has completely refuted any type of involvement, blaming it on terrorist groups. 
On Wednesday, the opposition called for a no-fly zone, asking for financial support from Arab nations. 
While encountering problems on the front, armed opposition says Bashar Assad would only understand a no-fly zone being imposed over his country as a clear signal to stop the bloodshed.
Syrian National Council’s Radwan Ziadeh claimed a dialogue with the Assad regime is impossible. “We will not accept any dialogue with Bashar al-Assad,” he said, “Without international intervention Bashar al-Assad will not stop the killings. Without such kind of action enforcing no-fly zone in Syria, I don't think that Bashar al-Assad will understand the message and stop the violence.”
-RT, The Independent, Reuters, TAAN 

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