All posts tagged un security council

R2P Too? Why Syria Is Not Libya in UN Eyes

Foreign Secretary William Hague at the United Nations Security Council meeting on Syria, 31 January 2012

US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at UN Security Council meeting on Syria / Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Flickr

Mehrunisa Qayyum - “Syria is not Libya,” Ambassador Peter Wittig emphasized as he responded to questions comparing global reactions to NATO intervention in Libya but not Syria. Edward Luck, U.N. Special Advisor on the Responsibility to Protect, echoed back, “Syria is not Libya.”

Syria is not Libya for a variety of reasons. First, Libya has only one-third of Syria’s population and a more homogeneous one. Second, Iran is a key ally of Syria. And third, Syrian politics rests of other sensitive “fault lines,” including the Kurdish issue, Lebanon, and Israel. Even so, the demographic makeup and political alliances should not obviate the flagrant abuse of human rights violations committed by the Assad regime.

Still, can Syria at least learn from Libya’s history of authoritarian leaders, economic sanctions, and a bloody but game-changing revolution?

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Five comments on Palestine joining UNESCO

So the UNESCO’s general conference has voted to admit Palestine as a member. The U.S. government has made good on its Congressionally-mandated commitment to withhold its dues payments to UNESCO. Israel has come up with a cute PR line (UNESCO is supposed to be about science, not science fiction), Europe is hopelessly split — oh, and the Palestinian territories are still occupied.

Nevertheless, there are a few signposts for what might be coming down the pike worth paying attention to after today’s vote:

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Palestinian refugees weathering the Syrian storm

Bachar al-Assad _MG_2493

A Western states backed UN Security Council resolution threatening “targeted measures” against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad may have been crushed this week by Russia and China’s veto, but that is hardly an indication that major world powers have grown unconcerned about the seven-month long uprising that has now been estimated to have cost 2,900 lives. From the US, to the European Union, to Russia and Iran, to Turkey, and the Arab states of the Gulf, officials have either been cautiously treading their ties with the government of President Bashar Assad in his growing international unpopularity, or blatantly calling for his resignation. Analysts and academics the world over are also watching carefully, gauging the impact on the politics of the entire region should the international community intervene, by broad implementation of sanctions or otherwise.

Notably guarded in their public stances, however, are the many Palestinian refugees who have enjoyed some of the unique freedoms in access to employment and education unavailable to them elsewhere in the Arab world. The refugee camps in which they reside have also evolved over the years from haphazard temporary shelters to full fledged neighborhoods near major cities. Historically, Palestinian refugees have been content to follow the Syrian government because they recognize how well they have been treated and try to behave in a manner fitting the hospitality of their Syrian hosts.

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Letter to President Abbas

I write this letter on the eve of your request for full UN membership. I feel compelled to express my support, not as a Palestinian sympathizer or as a pro-Israel supporter, not even as a political scientist, but as an average human being that knows the difference between right and wrong, integrity and hypocrisy,morality and national interests.

I have been following your government’s PR campaign for weeks, if not months now. Your conflict with the Israelis has been an endless source of professional and personal interest to me.

I can imagine the tremendous amount of pressure you are under at the moment; taking on the most powerful state in the world cannot be easy. Even if you knew ahead of time what the general tone of the president’s speech at the UN General Assembly would be, it could not have made you feel good to hear that on the one hand, the U.S. supports the uprisings in Tunisia, Libya, Syria and Egypt, and on the other hand, your pursuit for a UN seat is somehow unworthy of American support.

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"If they can get what they want without concessions, why negotiate?"

Presidential hopeful Rick Perry asks a great question, “If they [Palestinians] perceive they can get what they want from the U.N. without making any concessions why should they negotiate with Israel?

It is a great question.  But let’s take a more balanced look at it.  If Israel can get what it wants— land, water, and prevention of violent attacks— by delaying any real compromise, why should it negotiate with the Christian and Muslim families of Palestine? 

It seems that Israeli leaders have figured out that they can achieve security and control of the natural resources of Palestine through settlements, separations walls, and disproportionate violence, so why should Israel even consider serious negotiations—negotiations that would address the right of return of Christian and Muslim Palestinian families who were violently expelled from their homes and villages in 1948, negotiations that would demand equal treatment of Jews, Christians and Muslims—with Palestinian leaders. 

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