The Middle East Channel

The U.N. Security Council meets to discuss Syria after an upsurge in violence

The U.N. Security Council meets to discuss Syria after an upsurge in violence The United Nations Security Council is meeting today to debate a draft resolution aimed to quell violence in Syria. At the same time, the Syrian opposition has declared today a “day of mourning and anger” after nearly 100 people were killed on ...

The U.N. Security Council meets to discuss Syria after an upsurge in violence

The United Nations Security Council is meeting today to debate a draft resolution aimed to quell violence in Syria. At the same time, the Syrian opposition has declared today a “day of mourning and anger” after nearly 100 people were killed on Monday in a surge of regime violence and clashes mostly in the Homs province. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, leaders of the Arab League, and British and French foreign ministers have traveled to New York in support of the resolution presented by Morocco that calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to agree to a ceasefire and resign prior to negotiations. Russia opposes the resolution, instead advocating for talks without preconditions. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov criticized the proposal saying it “will not lead to a search for comprise” and is a “path to civil war.” U.S. White House spokesman Jay Carney said that governments, when making their decisions, must take into account that “The regime has lost control of the country” and “Assad’s fall is inevitable.” The resolution does not include reference to military intervention, which Russia said it would veto, but does state that the Security Council could “adopt further measures” if Assad does not comply within 15 days.

Headlines  

  • Egypt’s military council announced the rules for what will be the first presidential election since the fall of Hosni Mubarak, but was criticized for bypassing the parliament.
  • A U.S. drone air strike killed at least 12 al Qaeda militants in Yemen in one of the biggest assaults on leaders within the organization there.
  • Three U.S. pro-democracy NGO workers that have been prevented from leaving Egypt have sought refuge at the U.S. embassy as tensions between the two countries rise over the case.
  • Two Libyan dissidents are suing a former officer for the MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service, for complicity in their abduction and torture by Qaddafi’s secret police.
  • Israel’s Likud party began voting in its primaries which Prime Minister Netanyahu is expected to win over extreme right candidate, Moshe Feiglin.
  • About 35 Ethiopian Christians are facing deportation from Saudi Arabia for “illicit mingling” after being arrested in a private home where they had gathered to pray prior to Christmas.

Daily Snapshot

An election campaign tent for candidate Mohammed al-Juwaihel burns down in Kuwait City, late on January 30, 2011 after it was set ablaze by hundreds of angry Kuwaiti tribesmen over remarks Juwaihel made and deemed highly offensive by the tribe (AFP/Getty Images). 

Arguments & Analysis

‘Report from Syria’ (Ayman Mohyeldin, Time)

“Unlike the Arab revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya where critical masses quickly and overwhelmingly exposed the unpopularity of their regimes, the battle for the hearts and minds of Syrians and those watching the uprising from afar still rages, just like the 10-month conflict itself.” 

‘Saleh should stay in New York’ (J. Dana Stuster, The National Interest)

“The GCC deal is a bad deal, but it was necessary to begin the process of introducing reforms. The United States should abide by it with the recognition that, as painful as it is to see justice denied to protesters who lost friends and loved ones to regime violence, it moves toward a Yemen that represents the interests of its people, so that events like those of the past year do not happen again.” 

‘Riyadh plays its hand of Syria’ (Roula Khalaf, Financial Times)

“Jamal Khashoggi, the prominent Saudi commentator, sees Syria policy now as part of “the war against Iran”, one strand of a multifaceted battle that includes Saudi support for the European oil embargo and western financial restrictions on the Islamic republic. Amid growing confidence that the kingdom has escaped the winds of change sweeping through the region, he adds, the attitude in Riyadh is “let’s get the most” out of the situation. Yet no one in Riyadh is under any illusion about the complexity of the crisis in Syria — a country with a delicate sectarian balance and a strategic position in both the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Sunni Arab states’ power struggle with Shia Iran. The conflict on the ground, moreover, has become increasingly militarised as defectors challenge Mr Assad’s security forces, and the government loses control of parts of the country.”

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