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European powers draft resolution on Syria

European powers draft resolution on Syria

The U.N. Security Council’s European powers, backed by a group of like-minded Arab states, today drafted a resolution condemning Syria’s brutal repression of protesters and endorsing an Arab League plan calling on President Bashar al-Assad to step aside.

The four-page draft, which was obtained by Turtle Bay, instructs U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to "to take all necessary measures," including through appoint a special envoy, to support the Arabs effort to promote a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria.

The development comes after the Arab League secretary general, Nabil Elaraby, and the Qatari prime minister, Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, wrote to the U.N. secretary general to request the Security Council convene a ministerial meeting on Syria, where they could brief the council on the league’s latest diplomatic initiative.

The move set the stage for a potential conflict with Russia, which has criticized the Arab League for trying to foist a political settlement on the Syrian leadership. Russia’s U.N. envoy Vitaly Churkin told Turtle Bay that the Arab League was seeking to impose a "pre-cooked," political settlement on the Syrian government, and insisted that any acceptable plan would needed to be agreed to by both the government and the opposition.

The council’s four European powers, led by Britain, and supported by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Morocco, are hoping to put their resolution to a vote next week. They are hoping that a broad show of support for the plan by the Arab leadership will persuade Russia to back down.

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