U.N. Human Rights Council debates draft resolution on Syria

The United Nations Human Rights Council began an emergency session on Syria Wednesday to debate a draft resolution aimed at ending fighting around the strategic town of Qusayr and condemn the involvement of foreign pro-regime fighters. The draft resolution specifically targets the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah, which has significantly increased their involvement in the ...

AFP/Getty Images/ FABRICE COFFRINI
AFP/Getty Images/ FABRICE COFFRINI
AFP/Getty Images/ FABRICE COFFRINI

The United Nations Human Rights Council began an emergency session on Syria Wednesday to debate a draft resolution aimed at ending fighting around the strategic town of Qusayr and condemn the involvement of foreign pro-regime fighters. The draft resolution specifically targets the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah, which has significantly increased their involvement in the Syrian conflict. The British based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that Hezbollah has sent reinforcements to Qusayr despite a threat from the opposition Free Syrian Army's Brigadier General Salim Idris who said that it will "hunt Hezbollah" if its attacks on "Syrian territory do not stop within 24 hours." According to the SOHR, Sunni militiamen from Lebanon have also joined the fight, making the battle increasingly more sectarian. Western countries and Russia are at odds over arming warring parties in Syria, jeopardizing a peace conference that the United States and Russia are working to organize. Russia condemned the lapse of an EU ban on sending arms to Syria saying it is "undermining" the chances of holding a peace conference; meanwhile, the United States and Israel are criticizing Russia for going forward with a shipment of an advanced anti-aircraft missile system to the Syrian regime. Israel's defense minister alluded to a possible military action if the missiles reach Syria. The opposition Syrian National Coalition urged the EU to promptly send "specialized weaponry to repel the fierce attacks against unarmed civilians." However, there remain divisions between the EU member states, and those that have expressed willingness to consider sending arms, primarily Britain and France, have said they have no immediate plans to deliver weapons.

Headlines

Head of Libya's Parliament, Mohamed al-Magarief, resigned Tuesday complying with a law passed earlier this month that bans Qaddafi-era officials from office for 10 years. Israel has finalized a deal that will end military exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews, that if ratified will come into effect in four years. Nuclear negotiator and anti-United States hardliner Saeed Jalili is emerging as the frontrunner in Iran's presidential election set for June 14. The University of Bologna in Italy may have found the oldest complete Torah, an 850-year old scroll, which was mislabeled in its library. Amid a dramatic increase in bombings and attacks across Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki made an appearance Tuesday vowing to confront perpetrators of violence. 

The United Nations Human Rights Council began an emergency session on Syria Wednesday to debate a draft resolution aimed at ending fighting around the strategic town of Qusayr and condemn the involvement of foreign pro-regime fighters. The draft resolution specifically targets the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah, which has significantly increased their involvement in the Syrian conflict. The British based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that Hezbollah has sent reinforcements to Qusayr despite a threat from the opposition Free Syrian Army’s Brigadier General Salim Idris who said that it will "hunt Hezbollah" if its attacks on "Syrian territory do not stop within 24 hours." According to the SOHR, Sunni militiamen from Lebanon have also joined the fight, making the battle increasingly more sectarian. Western countries and Russia are at odds over arming warring parties in Syria, jeopardizing a peace conference that the United States and Russia are working to organize. Russia condemned the lapse of an EU ban on sending arms to Syria saying it is "undermining" the chances of holding a peace conference; meanwhile, the United States and Israel are criticizing Russia for going forward with a shipment of an advanced anti-aircraft missile system to the Syrian regime. Israel’s defense minister alluded to a possible military action if the missiles reach Syria. The opposition Syrian National Coalition urged the EU to promptly send "specialized weaponry to repel the fierce attacks against unarmed civilians." However, there remain divisions between the EU member states, and those that have expressed willingness to consider sending arms, primarily Britain and France, have said they have no immediate plans to deliver weapons.

Headlines

  • Head of Libya’s Parliament, Mohamed al-Magarief, resigned Tuesday complying with a law passed earlier this month that bans Qaddafi-era officials from office for 10 years.
  • Israel has finalized a deal that will end military exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews, that if ratified will come into effect in four years.
  • Nuclear negotiator and anti-United States hardliner Saeed Jalili is emerging as the frontrunner in Iran’s presidential election set for June 14.
  • The University of Bologna in Italy may have found the oldest complete Torah, an 850-year old scroll, which was mislabeled in its library.
  • Amid a dramatic increase in bombings and attacks across Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki made an appearance Tuesday vowing to confront perpetrators of violence. 

Arguments and Analysis

Buying Time? Money, Guns and Politics in the West Bank (International Crisis Group)

"In its latest report, Buying Time? Money, Guns and Politics in the West Bank, the International Crisis Group examines political, economic and security conditions in the West Bank. The last year was the most tumultuous for the Palestinian Authority (PA) since Hamas seized Gaza in 2007. For now, the mood has quieted somewhat, but if relevant parties do not get beyond managing conflict triggers to addressing root issues, today’s superficial calm could well be fleeting.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

Several factors argue against a looming escalation: the Hamas-Fatah split has rendered popular mobilisation dangerous to both the West Bank and Gaza regimes; Palestinians remain tired from the consequences of the second intifada; and, importantly, foreign assistance has helped reshape the West Bank’s political economy while giving most of its residents an interest in preserving the system.

At the same time, many of the conditions for an uprising are in place: political discontent, the leadership’s loss of legitimacy, hopelessness, economic fragility, increased violence and an overwhelming sense that security cooperation serves an Israeli — not Palestinian — interest.

The "collapse" of the PA is less likely to be a discrete event, and its "dissolution" less a matter of conscious intent, than a process: the gradual hollowing out of institutions that were never particularly strong.

 Steps such as regularising tax revenue transfers to the PA that Israel is obligated to make, as well as greater efforts by Israel to rein in settler attacks against Palestinians and to curtail incursions by its security forces into ostensibly Palestinian-controlled areas, could help stabilise the West Bank for now. But at some point Palestinians may well decide their long-run well-being would be better served by instability, and only by rocking the boat might they come closer to their desired destination."

How We Lost the Syrian Revolution (Edward Dark, Al Monitor)

"So what went wrong? Or to be more accurate, where did we go wrong? How did a once inspirational and noble popular uprising calling for freedom and basic human rights degenerate into an orgy of bloodthirsty sectarian violence, with depravity unfit for even animals? Was it inevitable and wholly unavoidable, or did it not have to be this way?

The simple answer to the above question is the miscalculation (or was it planned?) of Syrians taking up arms against their regime, a ruthless military dictatorship held together by nepotism and clan and sectarian loyalties for 40 years of absolute power. Former US ambassador to Syria Robert Ford specifically warned about this in his infamous visit to Hama in the summer of 2011 just as the city was in the grip of massive anti-regime protests and before it was stormed by the Syrian army. That warning fell on deaf ears, whether by design or accident, and we have only ourselves to blame. Western and global inaction or not, we are solely responsible for our broken nation at the end of the day.

Nietzsche once said, "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster." That has proved to be very prophetic in the Syrian scenario. Away from the all the agendas, whitewashing, propaganda, and outright lies of the global media stations, what we s
aw on the ground when the rebel fighters entered Aleppo was a far different reality. It hit home hard. It was a shock, especially to those of us who had supported and believed in the uprising all along. It was the ultimate betrayal."

–By Jennifer T. Parker and Mary Casey

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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