U.N. Delays Vote On Syria Resolution After Bombing

Originally published on July 18, 2012 7:30 pm

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Today's violence in Syria has prompted the U.N. Security Council to delay a vote on a new resolution on the crisis. Kofi Annan, the international envoy to Syria, requested the delay so that the deeply divided Security Council would have more time to reach a consensus. NPR's Jackie Northam has that story.

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: The Security Council vote will decide the fate of the U.N. monitoring mission in Syria. The monitors were deployed last April to oversee the implementation of Kofi Annan's peace plan, but the violence has only intensified since then. The U.N. mandate for the monitors expires on Friday. A Western draft resolution would extend the mission for another 45 days, but it would also warn of sanctions and potential military action against the Syrian regime if it fails to abide by the peace plan.

Russia has twice vetoed similar drafts in the past, but the new wave of violence in Syria has changed that dynamic, says Princeton University's Anne-Marie Slaughter, who until recently was director of policy planning at the State Department.

ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: Part of what I would be thinking about if I were on the Security Council is at least thinking about the scenario that this is the endgame, that things are going to unroll very quickly in the next couple of weeks. And then, though, just as in Libya, just as in Yemen, the question is going to be, what next?

NORTHAM: Slaughter says that what next probably propelled Annan to ask for a delay in the voting, so Russia and the Western nations could find some compromise on the wording of the text. Russia has been a staunch ally of the Assad regime. Radwan Ziadeh, a member of the opposition Syrian National Council, says Moscow may now be hedging its bet.

RADWAN ZIADEH: The change on the ground, especially after this operation in Syria, will convince the Russians that to keep and to reserve their interests in the future, they have to change their position, and they have to support the Syrian people.

NORTHAM: Princeton University's Slaughter says one advantage in extending the U.N. monitors' mission would be to have people on the ground in Syria before the beginning of a political transition, but she says the U.N. also runs the risk of undermining its own relevance if the monitors appear ineffective.

SLAUGHTER: I mean, they have not managed to stop violence in any way, and the people on the ground, the people in the region see that. So the Security Council also has to think about, well, if we reauthorize these monitors and they don't do anything, what does that say about our own power?

NORTHAM: Slaughter says the U.N. also runs the risk of looking slow and flat-footed in its decision-making, especially compared to the speed with which events are unfolding in Syria. But Aram Nerguizian, a visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, says, at the end of the day, both the regime and the opposition in Syria will do whatever it takes to win - with or without action by the U.N.

ARAM NERGUIZIAN: None of this is going to end well. We're looking at a cycle of instability that's going to last at least a decade regardless of whether there is a diplomatic solution.

NORTHAM: The Security Council vote has now been rescheduled for Thursday. Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.