Syrian opposition group warns: If the UN won't act, 'we have other options'
The opposition Syrian National Council issued an ultimatum of its own as the UN Security Council prepared to vote on extending the mandate of the UN's cease-fire monitors in Syria.
United Nations, N.Y.
With world powers playing a bit of brinksmanship over international action on Syria, Syria’s largest opposition coalition is presenting an ultimatum of its own: Either the UN Security Council passes a resolution with real consequences targeting President Bashar al-Assad and his regime’s violence, or the opposition will turn elsewhere for the means to defend itself and the Syrian people.Skip to next paragraph
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The implication of the opposition’s message is that the Security Council’s failure to finally act on a crisis that has left it paralyzed for over a year will lead to the full-blown civil war and wider regional conflict that world powers say they dread.
“What we are saying here is that if there is no possibility of counting on what is the legitimate mandate of the United Nations Security Council, then we have other options,” says Bassma Kodmani, head of foreign relations for the Syrian National Council (SNC) executive office. “If the door is closed in the face of the Syrian people, then we need to explore other scenarios.”
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Dr. Kodmani is part of an SNC delegation meeting at the UN in New York this week with members of the Security Council in the run-up to an anticipated vote on a resolution to extend the mandate of the UN’s observer mission in Syria.
Western powers are demanding that any extension of the monitoring mission fall under a UN Charter provision – the charter’s Chapter 7 – that authorizes consequences for noncompliance that could run from economic sanctions to, eventually, the use of force. Russia, which has already vetoed two resolutions on Syria over the course of the crisis, says it wants only a reauthorization of the 300-member mission charged with monitoring the “cease-fire” that was supposed to have taken effect under international Syria envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan.
The monitoring mission’s mandate expires Friday. But by Tuesday afternoon and as intensive negotiations continued, it appeared a vote on a Syria resolution set for Wednesday would lapse until at least Thursday.
Speaking Tuesday afternoon with a group of journalists, Dr. Kodmani said her organization supports a resolution under Chapter 7 as a “very last chance to breathe life into the Annan peace plan.” She also said it is the only way for the Security Council to convince the Assad regime that the international community is serious about halting violence that has left more than 17,000 Syrians dead – more than 4,000 of those since Mr. Annan’s plan for a cease-fire and a political transition was launched effect in April.