(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
There are at least two resolutions are being presented to the UN Security Council to have an international agency take control of Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons and their destruction.
American, British and French diplomats were meeting at the UN in New York on Tuesday night to draw up a resolution that would set deadlines for Bashar al-Assad to give up his chemical weapons backed by the threat of force.
However, a major standoff loomed as Russia made clear it would not abandon its Syrian ally. Instead the Russian foreign ministry said Moscow would push for a security council declaration on disarmament, which would have no binding authority and would not allow the use of force against the Assad regime.
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, insisted the disarmament process would work “only if the US and those who support it on this issue pledge to renounce the use of force, because it is difficult to make any country – Syria or any other country in the world – unilaterally disarm if there is military action against it under consideration”.
Russia proposes to work with the Assad regime and the UN secretariat to lay out a “workable, precise and concrete” disarmament plan with a timetable but no chapter 7 enforcement mechanism.
Syria has accepted the Russian proposal to place the chemical weapons it possesses under international control.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem earlier announced that Damascus had agreed to the Russian proposal because it would “remove the grounds for American aggression,” according to an Interfax report.
“We held a very fruitful round of talks with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday, and he proposed an initiative relating to chemical weapons. And in the evening we agreed to the Russian initiative,” Walid al-Moualem was quoted as telling the speaker of Russia’s lower house parliament house in Moscow.
It comes as France plans to submit a resolution to the U.N. Security Council calling for Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile to be turned over to international control, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said at a press conference in Paris on Tuesday.
Fabius said that the resolution would threaten “extremely serious” consequences if Syria violates conditions on chemical weapons.
The UN Security Council is scheduled to meet ina closed door session today at 4 PM EDT.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama is preparing to speak this evening to press his policy for the use of military force to a very skeptical American public. In the light of the latest developments, the speech is expected to take a different direction. It does appear from statements from the White House press office that military intervention will still be an integral part of his policy towards Syria.
In the Senate, the vote on the resolution that passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week was rescheduled for Wednesday. That vote, as well, may not happen as a group of senators craft a new resolution tailored to the recent Russian proposal.
All of this is unlikely to stop the fighting or even guarantee that chemical weapons won’t be used against the Syrian civilian population since no one knows who is in possession of these weapons. What we do know is that this is a small step to use diplomacy to back away from increased hostilities.