UN Security Council Endorses Political Transition Plan for Syria

After multiple failed efforts to unite the United Nations Security Council to condemn the Syrian regime for its brutal crackdown on the opposition, the Council unanimously endorsed a six-point plan aimed at ending the violence in the country. The Council called upon the regime to work with UN envoy Kofi Annan “in an inclusive Syrian-led political process to address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people,” according to a UN press release of Wednesday’s presidential statement.

Vetoes by Russia and China had scuttled two Security Council resolutions since October. But the program from Annan, the former UN Secretary-General who recently visited Syria, was able to unite the 15 members of the Council for a statement of support.

The Security Council expressed its “full support” for Annan’s efforts to “facilitate a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system… including through commencing a comprehensive political dialogue between the Syrian Government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition.”

The presidential statement does not specify a result if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad does not follow through with the plan, but it does say the powerful UN body will “consider further steps as appropriate.”

In addition to the political transition clause, the proposal also calls for Syria to “achieve urgently an effective United Nations supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties” including an immediate two-hour humanitarian ceasefire each day for aid to reach the needy in Syria.

While the regime has been the focus of the international coverage of the Syrian violence, killing thousands of civilians in roughly a year, the opposition is also included in the UN statement. With the country moving towards civil war, the Council calls for Annan to engage them in arranging the UN-supervised ceasefire with the regime.

The Council said in the statement it “expresses its gravest concern at the deteriorating situation in Syria which has resulted in a serious human rights crisis and a deplorable humanitarian situation.” In addition, the Security Council also “expresses its profound regret at the death of many thousands of people in Syria.”

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the UN resolution and said in comments released by the State Department the Assad regime will “face increasing pressure and isolation” if they don’t commit to it.

However, military intervention as seen in Libya still seems to lack support. The UN statement specifically noted that the Security Council “reaffirms its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria”—which appears to rule out foreign interference.

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, March 21, 2012)