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Terrorism & Security

Britain presses Syria's Assad on promised reforms

A draft UN Security Council statement condemning Syria's use of violence has stalled, with China, Russia, and Lebanon opposing the initiative.

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The United Nations Security Council also appears to be divided over a draft statement condemning the violence in Syria. China and Russia, who both have the ability to veto a Security Council statement, are unhappy about the Libya intervention and reluctant to get entangled elsewhere in the region, while Lebanon is hesitant to criticize its neighbor.

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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has also called for an independent investigation to the violence. Syria's envoy to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, insisted that was unnecessary, saying the country had a functioning government and would be able to carry out an investigation of its own. "Syria has a government, has a state," said Mr. Jaafari. "We can undertake any investigation by our own selves with full transparency.... We have nothing to hide."

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Assad Tuesday, urging him to curb the use of violence and to implement the reforms demanded by protesters, Reuters reports. He said that lifting the emergency law was a start, but not enough, and called the violence a "disturbing process."

Prime Minister Erdogan is dispatching an envoy to Damascus and the country's national security council is meeting to discuss the possibility of a civil war in Syria. Turkey is also preparing for a possible influx of Syrian refugees across its eastern border with Syria, according to Bloomberg.

Syria's unrest presents a worrying guessing game for the US, Israel, and many other countries, the Los Angeles Times notes. Unlike Libya, which sits politically and geographically on the periphery of the Arab world, Syria is at the center. It has close strategic ties to both Lebanon and Iran, support from Russia, and also shares a border with Israel, with whom it has no diplomatic relations.

Regime change is "threatening to upend some longstanding alliances and encouraging neighbors to scramble for sudden advantage" and could affect issues ranging from the US-Iran relationship to water rights in Jordan, according to the LA Times.

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