The Middle East Channel

Russia and Iraq present peace plans for Syria

Russia and Iraq present peace plans for Syria After months of reticence on international involvement in Syria, Russia has proposed a surprisingly tougher draft resolution on Syria to the United Nations Security Council. The resolution would call on all parties to immediately end violence, “including disproportionate use of force by the Syrian authorities.” Western countries ...

Russia and Iraq present peace plans for Syria

After months of reticence on international involvement in Syria, Russia has proposed a surprisingly tougher draft resolution on Syria to the United Nations Security Council. The resolution would call on all parties to immediately end violence, “including disproportionate use of force by the Syrian authorities.” Western countries believe the language was too weak, but were willing to negotiate, optimistic that these efforts would end the Security Council deadlock. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was encouraged that Russia acknowledged the need for the Security Council to address the violence in Syria, however said “There are some issues in it that we would not be able to support. There’s unfortunately a seeming parity between the government and peaceful protesters.” Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Iraq will send a delegation to Syria to discuss an Iraqi peace initiative encouraging dialogue between the government and opposition in efforts to end the conflict. Elsewhere, Syrian army defectors killed 27 soldiers in a three-pronged, seemingly coordinated attack. The insurgency is becoming increasingly better armed and organized, with the Free Syrian Army claiming to have orchestrated many recent attacks.

Headlines  

Daily Snapshot

An Iraqi soldier (R) walks past a US soldiers during a handover ceremony of Imam Ali Base, known to the US military as Camp Adder, on the outskirts of the southern city of Nasiriyah, on December 16, 2011. Iraq took control of the last American military base in the country, a day after US forces marked the end of their mission, bringing a divisive war to a low-key conclusion (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images). 

Arguments & Analysis

‘An unstable, divided land’ (Reiar Visser, International Herald Tribune)

“The main reason Mr. Maliki could not offer American forces guarantees for staying in the country beyond 2011 was that his premiership was clinched by pandering to sectarian Shiites. As a result, he has become a hostage to the impulses of pro-Iranian Islamists while most Sunnis and secularists in the government have been marginalized. His current cabinet is simply too big and weak to develop any coherent policies or keep Iranian influence at bay. By consistently thinking of Mr. Maliki as a Shiite rather than as an Iraqi Arab, American officials overlooked opportunities that once existed in Iraq but are now gone. Thanks to their own flawed policies, the Iraq they are leaving behind is more similar to the desperate and divided country of 2006 than to the optimistic Iraq of early 2009.”

‘Syria’s opposition: gaining ground’ (The Economist)

“Barely two months old, the SNC is still fragile. Many of its members, both in exile and within Syria, grumble that policies are often conjured up on the spur of the moment and are sometimes naive. Views differ within the SNC on whether to seek foreign intervention. And some SNC members think Islamists are over-represented. The enthusiasm of Turkey’s Islamist government for the SNC may account for the Islamists’ disproportionate presence in it. The Free Syrian Army is also causing problems for the SNC…Assorted defectors have become more audacious, targeting security checkpoints and intelligence buildings. But the SNC is trying to keep the uprising peaceful and wants to bring the Free Syrian Army under tighter political control.”

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