- By Colum LynchColum Lynch is Foreign Policy’s award-winning U.N.-based senior diplomatic reporter. He previously wrote FP’s Turtle Bay blog, for which he was awarded the 2011 National Magazine Award for best reporting in digital media. He was also the silver medal recipient of the 2013 Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Prize for a three-part series documenting the U.N.’s systemic failure to protect civilians in Darfur, Sudan. Colum’s investigations have uncovered an American spy operation in Iraq, Russia’s monopoly of the $1 billion-a-year U.N. aircraft leasing market, and a Chinese diplomatic campaign to silence U.N. investigators scrutinizing Chinese arms deals in Africa. His deep digs into the U.N. bureaucracy have exposed sexual misconduct by U.N. blue helmets from Bosnia to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and documented monumental dysfunction in the U.N. office charged with rooting out misconduct and corruption. He now devotes his reporting chops to documenting President Donald Trump’s efforts to reorder the international system. Born in Los Angeles, Colum received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1985 and a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 1987. Before moving to FP, Colum reported on diplomacy and national security for the Washington Post for more than a decade. He has appeared frequently on national news programs, including the Lehrer NewsHour, as well as on MSNBC, NPR, and the BBC.
The Arab League, led by a former Egyptian diplomat, has been ramping up pressure on the Syrian government to halt its crackdown on protesters.
But Egypt’s U.N. delegation has been providing diplomatic support to Syria as it faces a Western-backed move in the General Assembly U.N. committee to condemn Damascus. Diplomats say that the resolution is likely to secure the support of several Arab countries, particularly those in the Persian Gulf.
The European-drafted resolution on Syria has garned support from some Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Jordan, with Morocco and Kuwaiti expected to follow suit, according to U.N.-based diplomats. But Egypt is not expected to back it, diplomat said.
"The Arab world has sent a very clear message: the massive human rights violations and the suffering of the Syrian people have to stop," said Peter Wittig, Germany’s U.N. ambassador. "We appreciate that there is strong support for a resolution by the General Assembly: we hope it will show Assad just how isolated he is."
It is not the first time that Egypt has sought to soften the diplomatic blow to Syria’s human rights record. In May, Egypt led an effort to water down a resolution condemning Syrian conduct before the U.N. Human Rights Council.
And last month, Egypt, which is acting as chair of the coordinating bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), circulated a copy of a letter from the Syrian ambassador, Bashar al Jaafari urging the organization’s 119 members to vote against a draft U.N. General Assembly resolution condemning Syria. The draft is likely to be tabled on Thursday.
Egypt doesn’t formally endorse the Syrian letter and as chair of the NAM it is required to pass along any letters from the group’s members.
But Egypt attached a detailed cover letter that suggests where its sympathies’ lie. The Syrian letter, the Egyptians note, "reminds" NAM members that their leaders have "expressed deep concern with regard" to resolutions that target specific countries in the General Assembly’s human rights committee.
Egypt also highlighted Syria’s reminder to NAM members that the group’s leaders had previously stressed that the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva "should not allow confrontation approaches, exploitation of human rights for political purposes, selective targeting of individual countries for extraneous considerations and double standards."
"In this context," Egypt continued, "the said letter kindly urges all NAM countries to continue to act upon their commitments and principled positions, and in this regard expects them to oppose and vote against the abovementioned draft resolution."
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