UN discusses urging end to all military flights over Aleppo
Michelle Nichols, Reuters, Oct 3 18:57 EDT
UN – Negotiations will begin here on Monday on a draft UNSCR drafted by France and Spain that urges Russia and Pindostan to ensure an immediate truce in Aleppo and to “put an end to all military flights over the city.” The draft text, seen by Reuters, also asks Ban Ki-moon to propose options for a UN-supervised monitoring of a truce and threatens to “take further measures” in the event of non-compliance by “any party to the Syrian domestic conflict.” The council began talks on the text on Monday afternoon, diplomats said. The draft UNSCR urges Russia and Pindostan “to ensure the immediate implementation of the cessation of hostilities, starting with Aleppo, and, to that effect, to put an end to all military flights over the city.” Vitaly Churkin told a news conference on Monday:
We are engaged in discussions on the draft UNSCR text, but a resolution singling out aviation, where terrorists (on the ground) would be allowed to do whatever they want, would not be a very attractive proposition. I am not even sure many other members would like to see a resolution on cessation of hostilities that has no chance of working. If you pass a resolution, you expect something to happen.
Russia and China have previously protected the Syrian government from council action by blocking several resolutions, including a bid to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has said that any state that opposes the resolution would be deemed complicit in war crimes. He told TV5 Monde television on Monday that he hoped to obtain results on the draft resolution this week. The draft UNSCR expresses “outrage at the unacceptable and escalating level of violence and at the intensified campaigns, in recent days, of aerial bombings in Aleppo” and demands “the Syrian government end all aerial bombardments, in order to facilitate safe and unhindered humanitarian access.” British UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters:
I hope the resolution can be adopted in the coming days, but even that is not going to not end the war. What will end the war is not another piece of paper, it’s a change of mindset, it’s a change of heart, and it’s a decision actually to fulfill every single existing obligation, and if everyone around the UNSC table did that, then the war in Syria would be over very rapidly.
Russia says UN measure on Aleppo truce will not work
Carole Landry, AFP, Oct 4 2016
UN – Russia on Monday dismissed a French-drafted UNSCR aimed at imposing a ceasefire in Aleppo as having “no chance of working,” insisting the priority should be fighting Jihadis in Syria. The UNSC was holding negotiations over the draft text that calls for ending all military flights over Aleppo, allowing humanitarian aid to be delivered and setting up a monitoring mechanism for the ceasefire. Vitaly Churkin told a news conference that some council members were unenthusiastic about the proposed resolution presented late Sunday. He said:
I’m not even sure many other council members would like to see a resolution on cessation of hostilities which has no chance of working. If the only effect of that resolution is that the secretary general will start thinking of some monitoring mechanism which is not going to work in the first place, then there is not much sense in having that resolution.
The draft UNSCR obtained by AFP expresses “outrage over the unacceptable and escalating level of violence,” calling on all parties to “ensure full implementation of the cessation of hostilities, including an end to all aerial bombardments.” The measure urges Russia and Pindostan to “ensure the immediate implementation of the cessation of hostilities, starting with Aleppo, and to that effect, to put an end to all military flights over the city.” It calls on Ban Ki-moon to present options within five days of the adoption to set up a mechanism monitoring the ceasefire. The draft says the UNSCR would threaten to take “further measures” if the sides failed to comply, but it does not invoke Chapter 7, which allows for sanctions and the use of military force. Diplomats said a vote at the council could take place this week. Churkin declined to say whether Russia would veto the measure, but repeated that grounding planes would constitute a unilateral measure Moscow could not accept. He recommended “stronger concerted action against terrorists” and said:
Had it not been for our involvement in Syria, it might well be that the black flags would be flying over Damascus.
French Ambassador Francois Delattre said “it’s our responsibility to do everything humanly possible” to try to unite the council behind an effort “to end the martyrdom of Aleppo.” France distributed the text to the council’s ten non-permanent members following talks among the Big Five on Friday. British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said London backs the French proposal, but that it would not end the war. He said:
What will end the war is not another piece of paper.
Russia wants new UNSCR to ban extremist propaganda
Edith Lederer, AP, Oct 3 2016
UN – Russia is pressing for a new UNSCR that would prohibit and counter “terrorist propaganda” used by extremist groups to recruit young people around the world. Vitaly Churkin told a news conference late Monday that he discussed the draft resolution earlier with members of the UNSC. He said:
We believe that resolute action by the Security Council is needed to stop the worldwide spread of propaganda of terrorism and its distorted narratives. Those who incite to terrorism have to be sanctioned, like other supporters of terrorism. The time has come for the international community to create a robust campaign, especially on the Internet and in social media, to counter the campaigns used by Daesh, AQ, Nusra and their affiliates to recruit new members online. During a world summit in Sep 2005, a UNSCR called upon all countries to take measures to prohibit by law incitement to commit a terrorist act or acts, and to “prevent such conduct. It also called on all nations to deny safe haven to anyone guilty of such conduct. While many of that resolution’s provisions remain relevant today, the nature of the threat has changed dramatically, and an updated resolution is needed. Our draft is aimed at countering terrorist ideology and violent extremist ideology. It would prohibit terrorist propaganda, including acts of public justification of terrorism intended to incite further terrorist activities. It calls for a UN role in implementation and international cooperation, exchange of information, and assistance in tackling the issue. We don’t expect it to be adopted within days, because there are some difficult issues to resolve.
Pindostan suspends Syria talks with Russia over bombing of rebel-held areas
Julian Borger, Martin Chulov, Graun, Oct 3 2016
Pindostan has cut off contacts with Russia on a Syrian truce, giving up hopes of restoring a ceasefire. Washington also pulled out military personnel who had been dispatched to work with their Russian counterparts to mount joint bombing operations against Daesh & Nusra. A few hours earlier, Moscow declared military contacts with Pindostan had also stopped and Putin suspended a six-year agreement with Washington on the reduction of military stocks of plutonium, as the bitter differences over Syria and Ukraine continued to drive a downward spiral in the Pindo-Russian relationship. Two waves of airstrikes struck eastern Aleppo’s M10 hospital, one of the last three functioning major hospitals in the east of the city. The first strike hit the hospital on Monday morning, killing seven people and leaving a large hole near the entrance. It was still reported to be functioning until a second strike in the early evening, when rescue workers were still at the scene. The hospital had already been struck from the air on Saturday and workmen were repairing the damage at the time of the first strike on Monday. On Sunday, Syrian or Russian aircraft targeted an underground hospital in an opposition area north of Hama. Reports from the city said that no one had been killed in the attack on the hospital, which is tunnelled into the side of a mountain, but powerful bombs, possibly bunker-busters designed to destroy buried or hardened targets, wrecked the emergency ward, brought down interior ceilings, crumbled cement walls and destroyed generators. Adm (retd) Kirby said:
Pindostan is suspending its participation in bilateral channels with Russia that were established to sustain the cessation of hostilities. This is not a decision that was taken lightly. Russia has failed to live up to its own commitments. Rather, Russia and the Syrian regime have chosen to pursue a military course inconsistent with the cessation of hostilities, as demonstrated by their intensified attacks against civilian areas, targeting of critical infrastructure such as hospitals, and preventing humanitarian aid from reaching civilians in need.
Under the Sep 9 truce deal, Russian and Pindo diplomats in Geneva would have coordinated implementation. The Pindo diplomats have now been recalled. Pindostan also declared it was calling back military officials who had been deployed to take part in the “joint implementation centre.” However, Kirby said that military coordination with Russia would continue, “to ensure the safety of our respective military personnel and enable the fight against Daesh.” Before the State Dept announcement on Monday, deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov said even those military exchanges had dried up. Gatilov said:
All contacts between the military have been stopped of late, there has been no exchange of information.
Moscow has blamed Pindo-backed Syrian opposition groups for failing to separate themselves from JFS on frontlines and for flouting the truce with attacks on Syrian army positions. France circulated a draft UNSCR expressing outrage at the bombing of the 275,000-strong population of eastern Aleppo and calling for a restoration of the ceasefire “including an end to all aerial bombardments as well as the provision of immediate, safe and unhindered humanitarian access,” according to the draft text seen by the Guardian. Russia has agreed to consider the resolution but says it has reservations about parts of it. Western diplomats say they expect a very tough battle over the resolution but argue the alternative is UNSC silence on the horrors of Syria. French ambassador François Delattre said:
We of course don’t give up, you will not be surprised. We considered that this is our responsibility to do absolutely everything we can, everything humanly possible, to try to unite the security council behind our efforts to end the martyrdom in Aleppo.
Also on Monday, Putin announced that Moscow was pulling out of a 2000 arms control deal with Pindostan under which both countries were supposed to reduce their stocks of weapons-grade plutonium. Putin had complained earlier this year that Pindostan had not been keeping its end of the bargain, after work fell behind on a plant that had been designed to convert Pindo plutonium to fuel for nuclear power stations. However, announcing his decision yesterday, the Kremlin blamed “unfriendly acts” by Pindostan. As conditions for returning to the treaty, Moscow said that Pindostan would have to lift sanctions imposed on Russia for its intervention in Ukraine, pay compensation for those sanctions, and to reduce Pindo troop presence in eastern Europe to its level in 2000.
Pindostan suspends talks with Russia on ending Syria conflict
David Usborne, Independent, Oct 3 2016
The diplomatic chill between Pindostan and Russia deepened dramatically as Pindostan suspended dialogue between them on ending the war in Syria. By summarily shutting down lines of communication, Pindostan was carrying out a threat it first issued a week ago when it accused Moscow of violating the terms of a ceasefire agreement for the country that had been hammered out just weeks earlier. The decision was confirmed by the State Dept. It leaves Pindostan with scant options. It is also an admission of failure for Jackass Kerry. He had put off carrying out the threat to end dialogue for most of last as he made several attempts to salvage the ceasefire in telephone talks with Lavrov. Pindostan has bluntly blamed Russia for the agreement’s demise accusing it of resuming the bombing of rebel-held parts of Aleppo in direct violation of its provisions, alongside the forces of Assad. Pindostan also accused the Russians of being responsible for an airstrike on a humanitarian convoy last month that killed 20 people. Both Russia and Syria denied the charge. Josh Earnest said patience had run out with Russia. He told reporters in Washington:
What is clear is that there is nothing more for the United States and Russia to talk about with regard to stopping the ongoing violence in Syria and that is unfortunate.
Adm (retd) Kirby said:
This is not a decision that was taken lightly. Unfortunately, Russia failed to live up to its own commitments,. and was also either unwilling or unable to ensure Syrian regime adherence to the arrangements to which Moscow agreed. Russia and the Syrian regime have chosen to pursue a military course, inconsistent with the Cessation of Hostilities, as demonstrated by their intensified attacks against civilian areas, targeting of critical infrastructure such as hospitals, and preventing humanitarian aid from reaching civilians in need, including through the September 19 attack on a humanitarian aid convoy.
As a first consequence, Pindostan will order the return home of officials who had been picked to help set up a joint Pindo-Russia centre that was to have coordinated military operations in Syria as well as begin intelligence sharing had the ceasefire taken hold. Cooperation between the two countries on avoiding any inadvertent clashes between them as they use military power to attack terror networks in Syria will not be affected, however. Shortly before the State Dept announcement on Syria, Putin issued a decree suspending a plutonium clean-up treaty between Moscow and Washington that was originally concluded in 2000. The treaty was designed to ensure that both superpowers worked to reduce stockpiles of nuclear weapon-grade plutonium and dispose of it safely.