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America could intervene in Syria without UN approval

America has raised the possibility of intervening in Syria without United Nations approval and accused Russia of pushing the country into civil war.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, bluntly criticised Russia’s continued backing for President Bashar al-Assad’s regime yesterday (Thursday). This support was illustrated last night by the disclosure that a Russian cargo ship carrying weapons had docked in Syria last Saturday, one day after the massacre in Houla which claimed at least 108 civilian lives.

Addressing students in Denmark, Mrs Clinton urged Russia to use its influence on Mr Assad to curb the fighting.

“The Syrians are not going to listen to us. They will listen – maybe – to the Russians, so we have to keep pushing them,” she said.

Russian officials, added Mrs Clinton, “are telling me they don’t want to see a civil war. I have been telling them their policy is going help to contribute to a civil war.”

Western governments believe that diplomatic cover afforded by the Kremlin has emboldened Mr Assad and encouraged him to resist pressure to negotiate a settlement of the conflict.

Earlier, Susan Rice, the American ambassador to the UN, said that Russia’s veto-wielding membership of the Security Council would not necessarily prevent international action.

If the violence worsened and the peace plan proposed by Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general, made no progress, some countries would consider whether to bypass Russian and Chinese opposition in the UN.

“Members of this Council and members of the international community are (then) 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,” said Ms Rice.

Leaders of the Free Syrian Army, the rebel movement, issued a statement giving the regime until Friday (today) to obey the Annan plan, or they would formally abandon a ceasefire.

But Mrs Clinton noted the obstacles to any Western military intervention, starting with the probable Russian and Chinese vetoes that would prevent any action from having UN support.

“We’re nowhere near putting together any type of coalition other than to alleviate the suffering,” she said. “We have very strong opposition from Russia and China – but it’s primarily from Russia – and that makes it harder to put together an international coalition.”

There are growing fears that Syria risks becoming a “failed state” comparable to Iraq during the worst days of its conflict, when different sects battled for power and militant Islamist groups allied to al-Qaeda also rose to the surface.

Ban Ki-Moon, the UN secretary general, spelled out the dangers, saying: “The massacre of civilians of the sort seen last weekend could plunge Syria into a catastrophic civil war – a civil war from which the country would never recover.”

One day after the killings in Houla, a Russian cargo vessel, the Professor Katsman, landed in the Syrian port of Tartous carrying weapons for the regime. Russian arms sales to Mr Assad totalled about $1billion last year and outstanding contracts are believed to be worth three or four times that total. The Syrian army relies on Russia for most of its tanks, armoured vehicles and heavy weapons.

The UN has deployed 290 observers to monitor a ceasefire called for by the Annan plan. But Mr Ban added: “Let me state plainly: the UN did not deploy in Syria just to bear witness to the slaughter of innocents. We are not there to play the role of passive observer to unspeakable atrocities.”

Some countries want more observers to be sent, noting that violence falls wherever they are deployed.

However, there is a real risk of the fighting spreading into Lebanon. Hizbollah, the Shia extremist group based in south Lebanon, is believed to have brought weapons into the country from Syria, including medium-range missiles. The arrival of these arms in Lebanon will raise tensions between Sunni and Shia, already inflamed by the crisis in Syria.

In London, David Cameron convened a meeting of the National Security Council. Britain will consider pushing for “further sanctions”, he said, but the possibility of military action was not on the table.

Short URL: http://www.cckerala.com/?p=11033

Posted by on Jun 1 2012. Filed under Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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