Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

U.S., UK, France Seek Wider U.N. Support for Syria Probe

Over the objections of Russia and China, the United States, the UK, and France have been circulating a letter among UN member states pushing for a wider investigation into the Assad regime's alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Inter Press Service

The United States, Britain and France, three veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council, are making a strong push for an “urgent” U.N. investigation of the alleged use of chemical weapons Wednesday in Syria.

The UK Deputy Permanent Representative Ambassador Phillip Parham told reporters Thursday that a letter, signed by over 35 member states, was being delivered to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for a “swift investigation”.

But he refused to identify the countries, nor was letter made public.

The letter, a copy of which was obtained by IPS, did not contain the list of signatories. The only three permanent members taking the lead, and whose signatures appear on the letter, were the United States, Britain and France.

Both Russia and China, the other two permanent members, were not signatories.

The letter, dated Aug. 21, says: “We would like to bring to your attention credible reports of the use of chemical weapons on 21 August 2013 in Rif Damascus. Given the gravity of these reports, we judge it essential that all the pertinent facts are swiftly investigated.”

The letter requests the secretary-general to launch an urgent investigation into these allegations “as expeditiously as possible” under the auspices of the secretary general’s ‘Mechanism for the Investigation of Alleged Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons.’

This “mechanism” was derived from the mandate established by the U.N. General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/42/37C of Nov. 30, 1987.

The letter requests Ban to “report back to Member States as soon as possible”.

Russia, which has stood by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, claims the alleged chemical arms attack was a “pre-planned provocation” orchestrated by the rebels.

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying, “All of this looks like an attempt at all costs to create a pretext for demanding that the U.N. Security Council side with opponents of the regime and undermine the chances of convening the Geneva conference.”

The proposed conference was aimed at peace negotiations between the Syrian government and rebels, but it has failed to get off the ground.

Currently, there is a U.N. team in Damascus trying to investigate earlier attacks with chemical weapons, but the team’s mandate is limited to whether or not chemical weapons were used in these attacks last year. And the team does not have a mandate to pin the blame either on the Syrian government or the rebels.

“We are aware that the UN Mission is now in Damascus,” the letter notes. “We urge you to do all you can to ensure that the Mission has urgent access to all relevant sites and sources of information.”

To assist the investigation, the letter lists a selection of open source information, along with web links.

Meanwhile, in a statement released Thursday, the secretary-general said he was shocked to hear the reports of the alleged use of chemical weapons in the suburbs of Damascus.

Professor Ake Sellstrom, a Swedish expert on chemical weapons, and his team are currently in Syria to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons reported by the government of Syria at Khan al-Assal, as well as two other allegations of the use of chemical weapons reported by member states, he noted.

According to the agreement reached in Damascus in July, the two parties are discussing, in parallel, other allegations and their related sites.

The United Nations mission to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria is following the current situation in Syria carefully, and remains fully engaged in the investigation process that is mandated by the secretary-general, said a statement from his spokesman.

“Professor Sellstrom is in discussions with the Syrian government on all issues pertaining to the alleged use of chemical weapons, including this most recent reported incident. The Secretary-General reiterates that any use of chemical weapons by any side under any circumstances would violate international humanitarian law,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, the 15-members of the Security Council issued a statement Thursday calling for a U.N. investigation of the chemical weapons attack. But it stopped short of adopting a resolution, which would have been vetoed by Russia and possibly China.

Philippe Bolopion, U.N. Director at Human Rights Watch, said the “tortuous Security Council unofficial statement” on Syria misses the mark and fails the victims.

“When faced with serious allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria, rather than seeking the truth and demanding cooperation with U.N. investigators, Russia and China chose once again to protect a government that has been slaughtering its own population,” he said.

“They will go down in history as two major enablers of Assad’s bloody tactics to repress the Syrian people.”

Thalif Deen is a contributor to Inter Press Service.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Haim Saban is a media mogul and major donor to the Democratic Party known for his hardline stance on Israel and opposition to the Iran nuclear deal.


Nikki Haley, Donald Trump’s first U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is known for her lock-step support for Israel and is widely considered to be a future presidential candidate.


Brian Hook is the director of policy planning and senior policy advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and is the head of the Iran Action Group.


Josh Rogin is a journalist known for his support for neoconservative policies and views.


Laurence Silberman, a senior justice on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, was a mentor to controversial Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and has been a vocal supporter of right-wing foreign and domestic agendas, including the campaign to support the invasion of Iraq.


The People’s Mujahedin of Iran, or MEK, advocates regime change in Iran and has strong connections with a wide range of top political figures in the U.S.


Eli Lake is a columnist for Bloomberg View who has a lengthy record of advocating for aggressive U.S. foreign policies towards the Middle East.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

The tragic end of Jamal Khashoggi should serve as a reminder that it’s time for the United States to move on and leave the motley crew of undesirable Middle Eastern partners, from Israel to Saudi Arabia, to their collective fate. They deserve each other.


Jobs should not be an excuse to arm a murderous regime that not only appears to be behind the assassination of a U.S. resident and respected commentator but is also responsible for thousands of civilian casualties in Yemen—the majority killed with U.S-supplied bombs, combat aircraft, and tactical assistance.


The contradictions in Donald Trump’s foreign policy create opportunities for both rivals and long-standing (if irritated) US allies to challenge American influence. But Trump’s immediate priority is political survival, and his actions in the international arena are of little concern to his domestic supporters.


While the notion that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic is decades old, it has been bolstered in recent years, by the campaign to add to the definition of anti-Semitism any criticism that singles Israel out and doesn’t apply the same standard to other countries. The bottom line is that this entire effort is designed not to combat anti-Semitism but to silence criticism. 


Short-term thinking, expedience, and a lack of strategic caution has led Washington to train, fund, and support group after group that have turned their guns on American soldiers and civilians.


Trump is not the problem. Think of him instead as a summons to address the real problem, which in a nation ostensibly of, by, and for the people is the collective responsibility of the people themselves. For Americans to shirk that responsibility further will almost surely pave the way for more Trumps — or someone worse — to come.


The United Nations has once again turn into a battleground between the United States and Iran, which are experiencing one of the darkest moments in their bilateral relations.


RightWeb
share