UNSC may vote on Syria resolution later Wednesday amid differences on drafts |
Kuwait News Agency - 18 July, 2012
The Security Council "scheduled" a vote for Wednesday on a Western-drafted resolution, under Chapter 7, that would threaten Syria with non-military action if it does not comply with UN demands to halt the violence.
Moreover, western member states of the council indicated that they were not impressed by amendments Russia introduced, late on Tuesday, to a competing draft to win the Council's support, diplomats said.
They said postponing the vote for later this week is a possibility, "depending on what happens during the next hours." Voting on both draft resolutions during the same Council meeting is also a possibility, they added.
Speaking to reporters following a Council informal meeting late Tuesday called for by Russia to examine its "enriched" draft, British Deputy Ambassador Philip Parham said a vote has been "scheduled" for Wednesday. "We'll have to see what happens between now and then when any text is put to a vote." He described the Russian revised draft as "inadequate," and said that despite the amendments introduced, "I don't believe the Russian draft has the nine votes" needed for any Council resolution to pass in the absence of a veto.
Asked if the Council could vote on both drafts later today, he said "that's possible." Russia's Deputy Ambassador Alexander Pankin told reporters, late on Tuesday, "the meeting of the Council is scheduled for tomorrow, but we are in consultations, as you see. We are trying to reach consensus, but it's difficult. Let's see." He insisted that Chapter 7 and the sanctions are still "red line" for Russia and vowed to veto the Western draft.
While the Western draft resolution, under Chapter 7, threatens Damascus with sanctions if it fails to pull its forces and heavy weapons from populated areas in ten days and extends the mandate of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) for 45 days, the Russian draft suggests three months instead and does not mention any sanctions.
The Mission's current mandate expires on Friday, July 20th.
British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said the Western sponsors of the resolution - US, UK, France, Germany and Portugal - are willing to postpone the vote till Thursday or Friday, if the Russian delegation presents "serious elements" to its draft. One key addition to the Russian draft is to request UNSMIS "as an urgent first step" to develop a mechanism for each city and population centre affected by the hostilities in order to achieve a ceasefire and secure synchronized withdrawal of Government forces and opposition armed groups to enable the municipal authorities to address acute social needs of the population." This proposal was conveyed by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to the Arab-UN Joint Special Envoy for Syria Kofi Annan during his most recent to Damascus.
Diplomats speculate that given the fact that the Russian position has not changed and that its proposed amendments are "not serious," the Council Western members will insist on the vote later on Wednesday.
They predict Russia will be embarrassed twice later today: first because its draft will not gather the nine votes needed, second because it will cast its veto on the Western draft, putting an end to UNSMIS and probably to Annan's mission which Moscow fought hard to have them created.
The diplomats question even the logic behind renewing the mandate of UNSMIS if its observers are confined to their hotel rooms, unable to do their job because of the increased level of violence and risks to their lives.
The Western co-sponsors met late Tuesday with the 'Friends of Syria' group - The GCC countries, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey - to brief them on the latest negotiations regarding the Syria draft resolutions.