First Published: 2012-05-31

 

Washington: Action outside UN likely in Syria

 

Rice's remarks appear to signal that Washington, its allies will consider whether to act alone should Russia, China continue to block tough action against Syria.

 

Middle East Online

Worst case scenario in Syria: Proxy war

UNITED NATIONS - The US envoy to the United Nations has warned that UN Security Council members may have to act alone to end the violence in Syria if the crisis worsens and the Council remains divided.

US Ambassador Susan Rice's remarks marked a rhetorical escalation after a massacre last week blamed on a militia loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad dealt a major blow to an already fragile UN peace plan.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Rice said if the Syrian government did not adhere to special envoy Kofi Annan's plan, then the UN Security Council had to "assume its responsibilities" and step up pressure on Damascus.

In the absence of either scenario, and if the violence continued to worsen, "then members of this council and members of the international community are left with the option only of having to consider whether they're prepared to take actions outside of the Annan plan and the authority of this council."

Urging Security Council penalties on Syria, she sketched out an alternative situation in which violence escalates, spreads to other countries in the region and finally breaks into a sectarian proxy war with arms flowing in from all sides. In that case, she said, Security Council members would be left to consider taking action outside the UN, a scenario she said the US and allies have sought to avoid.

Rice's remarks appeared to signal that Washington and its allies would consider whether to act alone should Russia and China continue to block tough action against Syria over its brutal 14-month crackdown on protests.

"The decision rests, in the first instance, with the Syrian government, whether it will fulfill its commitments. And if it does, then the opposition has an obligation to reciprocate," Rice said.

"If it doesn't, this council has a responsibility to act and act swiftly and surely. And if we don't, then we are all resigning ourselves to a third scenario, which we still hope to avoid."

More than 100 people were killed in the central town of Houla on May 25-26, including 49 children and 34 women, according to UN military observers who visited the site.

Some were blown to bits by artillery and tank fire but most were summarily executed, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. UN officials suspect the massacre was carried out by a pro-government militia.

In a coordinated move on Tuesday, the United States and several Western powers expelled Syrian diplomats over the massacre and warned Assad that time was running out for the battered UN-brokered peace plan.

More than 13,000 people have been killed, mostly civilians, since an uprising erupted in March 2011 against the Assad family's 40-year rule, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

 

Extremist groups capture last major regime holdout in northwest Syria

Deadly fighting rages in Yemen southern towns

‘Islamic State’ suicide bombers target Iraq-Jordan crossing

Four Egypt Islamists killed while preparing bombs

France opens preliminary probe into forced labour allegations in Qatar

‘Islamic State’ kills Iraq senior officers in Anbar province

Entrepreneurs encourage people to ‘buy Syrian’

Over 100 children killed in Yemen since March 26

Libya militia alliance 'carries out air raids' against IS

UN 'confident' rebels will sign Mali peace deal

Petraeus gets two years probation for info leak

Iranian ships turn back from Yemen

Palestinians mourn as Jews celebrate

UN chief set to appoint Mauritanian diplomat as Yemen envoy

Obama takes 'full responsibility' for deaths of Qaeda hostages in US operation

Turkey warns Austria over decision to condemn ‘Armenian genocide’

Yemen conflict poses dangers across Gulf of Aden

Hopes for final deal on second day of Iran nuclear talks in Vienna

Security tightened at Saudi shopping malls

US returns stolen Egypt artifacts

EU mulls military action against human traffickers in Libya

Libyan journalist shot dead in Benghazi

Arms experts warn of 'Faustian bargain' with Iran

Fresh Saudi-led air strikes target Yemen rebels

Rebel-IS clashes in Syria kill at least 42 fighters in 24 hours

Who’s more dangerous: Jihadists who left their countries or those staying at home?

France foils 'imminent' attack by jihadist sympathiser

Algeria army kills three armed Islamists west of capital

Israel removes Palestinian teen's name from memorial wall

Egyptian businessman testifies at Al-Jazeera retrial

Kenya asks donors to save world’s largest refugee camp

Sanctions, possible Congress intervention to dominate fresh nuclear talks

Arab army chiefs kick off work on building regional force

One year after agreement, Palestinian reconciliation hits rock bottom

Arab coalition resumes airstrikes against Huthi rebels

UN member states urged to protect Iraqi cultural sites

London mulls ways to help Europe's refugee crisis

Finalising of Iran nuclear deal set to begin

Saudi–led coalition declares end to Yemen air war

Palestine teenager inscribed on Israel memorial wall

Deadly attack targets busy restaurant in Somalia capital

War in Yemen raises profile of Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Libya condemns 'death smugglers' after shipwreck

Sudan security agents detain opposition activist

Main Kurdish party vows to be 'sultan' Erdogan's nightmare