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Posts tagged ‘Ban Ki-moon’

Obama’s New Diplomat for Europe Caught Swearing about EU.

Washington’s new top diplomat for Europe, Victoria Nuland, has been apparently caught being decidedly undiplomatic about her EU allies in a phone call about Ukraine posted Thursday on YouTube.

“F–k the EU,” Nuland apparently says in a recent phone call with US ambassador to Kiev, Geoff Pyatt, as they discuss the next moves to try to resolve the crisis amid weeks of pro-democracy protests which have rocked the country.

The call appears to have been intercepted and released on the social networking video site, accompanied by Russian captions of the private and candid conversation.

Although the State Department did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment, White House spokesman Jay Carney alleged that the fact that it had been “tweeted out by the Russian government, it says something about Russia’s role.”

It was impossible to immediately verify the undated post, although the woman speaking sounds like Nuland, who served previously as the State Department’s top spokeswoman before becoming assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs late last year.

Nuland and Pyatt appear to discuss the upheavals in Ukraine, and President Viktor Yanukovych’s offer last month to make opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk the new prime minister and Vitaly Klitschko deputy prime minister. Both men turned the offer down.

Nuland, who in December went down to Independence Square in Kiev in a sign of support for the demonstrators, adds she has also been told that the UN chief Ban Ki-moon is about to appoint a former Dutch ambassador to Kiev, Robert Serry, as his representative to Ukraine.

“That would be great I think to help glue this thing and have the UN glue it and you know, f–k the EU,” she says, in an apparent reference to differences over their policies.

“We’ve got to do something to make it stick together, because you can be pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it,” Pyatt replies.

Carney refused to discuss any details of the call, saying “we do not discuss private conversations.”

“Assistant Secretary Nuland has been in contact with her EU counterparts and relations with the EU are stronger than ever,” he added.

Nuland was Thursday in Kiev meeting with Yanukovych, who told her that he wanted to quickly adopt constitutional changes called for by pro-Western demonstrators.





© AFP 2014

Bolton: Syria Peace Talks ‘Doomed to Failure’.

The international peace talks in Switzerland to discuss a resolve in Syria’s civil war are “doomed to failure,” claimed former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton on Fox News on Wednesday.

The talks got off to a rocky start Wednesday, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry argued a solution for Syria’s civil war must include President Bashar al-Assad stepping down from power, according to CBS News. The talks are an attempt to address the three-year civil war in Syria between rebel forces and the regime of President Assad that has claimed as many as 130,000 lives.

Story continues below video.

“The notion that these powers were willing to talk about easing Assad out has never been accurate. And yet, that has formed the basis of the Obama administration’s policy,” he said.
Bolton said Russia needed Syria because it was the location of their “only naval base outside the territory of Russia.” He maintained part of the problem was that the Obama administration based their policy of the “illusion” the U.S. and Russia were in agreement on a solution for Syria.

“I think, in fact, you can make a case that the administration’s policy on Syria has been based on illusions for three straight years — the most important of which, right now, is the illusion that the United States and Russia shared a common interest in a peaceful transition of power away from the Assad regime.

“That has never been Russia’s position,” Bolton explained.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Wanda Carruthers

Shocker, Zoological President of The Zoo invites UN secretary to centenary celebration.


Jonathan the Igbo Man

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, on Thursday received a letter of invitation from President Goodluck Jonathan to attend activities marking the nation’s centenary scheduled for February 27.
The UN Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria reports that the UN Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, received the invitation on behalf of Ban who was in Kuwait for a fund raising conference to support the Syrian people.
However, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Martin Uhomoibhi, delivered the invitation also accompanied by Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Joy Ogwu and the Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Amb. Usman Sarki.
Speaking with reporters, Uhomoibhi described the letter as “a very special letter from Mr. President, inviting the UN Secretary-General to do all he can to be present at the centenary celebration.
“There is a role for the Secretary-General’s office to deliver a goodwill message for Nigerians.
“The letter also contained a concept paper describing in very meticulous detail the importance which Nigeria ascribes to the celebration and the need for the UN to reinforce this commitment and the belief of Nigeria that our great country is committed to peace, democracy and good government.
“It also stresses the need to remain a united, strong and indivisible country for many, many years to come.”
Uhomoibhi added that “the reception was warm, the reception was very cordial and we have it on good record that they will give it very serious consideration, based on this personal delivery of this message to the Secretary-General”.
Responding to questions on whether the passage of anti-homosexuality law by government would not discourage the UN Secretary-General from honouring the invitation, the Permanent Secretary said there was no linkage between anti-gay legislation and the celebration.
“Absolutely not and I do not see any reason whatsoever why a nation such as ours that has played an important role in the development of the human race can be summarised negatively in terms of one piece of legislation, a legislation which an independent country such as Nigeria has decided to effect because it considered it to be in its own interest.”
Also on what difference the centenary celebration would make in the political structure of Nigeria in view of speculations regarding the likely consequences, Uhomoibhi said he believed this was the problem of the elite.
According to him, such imaginations are the problems of the elite, saying “we should not deceive ourselves on how the average Nigerian feels about his country”.
“The tragedy is that these elite are so blinded in their views, yet they know that they know they are nothing without Nigeria; yet they exploit Nigeria to their own selfish advantage.
“The average Nigerian is committed to Nigeria and does not conceive of such illusions or delusions of the fragmentation of the nation.
“You recalled that six years after independence as a nation, Nigeria fought a war of unity not a war to break but a war to unite and it has not changed.
“There are very many things that bind our country together than what the elite who are fighting for their own selfish reasons would want to claim. But the truth is Nigeria will remain strong; Nigeria will remain united
“Nigeria will be a lesson and will present a lesson to the rest of humanity on how to build a complex society such as ours into one strong united polity.
“A nation is a dynamic entity, Nigeria is changing and evolving and getting better in forging the pillar of unity.
“No country, not even the U.S., including those countries that have been around for 200 and more years, that have experienced full development without issues confronting them as a people; nations all round the world are still growing.
“Nigeria is also developing and growing.
“What I am telling you is that Nigeria does it better than most nations in the way that we confront issues that bind us together and the nation engages in dialogue and communication as we seek to forge unity among ourselves.

“That is what we are doing in Nigeria and we are doing it very, very well.”

Source: Radio Biafra.

UN in Final Report: Chemical Arms Were Used Repeatedly in Syria.

UNITED NATIONS — Chemical weapons were likely used in five out of seven attacks investigated by U.N. experts in Syria, where a 2 1/2-year civil war has killed more than 100,000 people, according to the final report of a U.N. inquiry published on Thursday.

U.N. investigators said the deadly nerve agent sarin was likely used in four incidents, in one case on a large scale.

The report noted that in several cases the victims included government soldiers and civilians, though it was not always possible to establish with certainty any direct links between the attacks, the victims and the alleged sites of the incidents.

“The United Nations Mission concludes that chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic,” the final report by chief U.N. investigator Ake Sellstrom said.

Syria’s U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari and the opposition Syrian National Coalition did immediately comment on the 82-page report.

The investigation found likely use of chemical weapons in Khan al-Assal, near the northern city of Aleppo, in March; in Saraqeb, near the northern city of Idlib, in April; and in Jobar and Ashrafiat Sahnaya, near Damascus, in August.

As initially reported by Sellstrom in September, there was “clear and convincing” evidence that sarin was used on a large-scale against civilians in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Ghouta on Aug. 21, killing hundreds of people.

In the final report on Thursday, the experts said sarin had likely also been used on a small-scale in Jobar, Saraqeb and Ashrafiat Sahnaya.

The inquiry was only looking at whether chemical weapons were used, not who used them. The Syrian government and the opposition have accused each other of using chemical weapons, and both have denied it.


Rebels have seized all kinds of weapons from military depots across Syria, according to the United Nations. Western powers say the rebels do not have access to chemical arms.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon established the Sellstrom investigation after the Syrian government wrote to Ban accusing the rebels of carrying out the chemical weapons attack in Khan al-Assal.

Sellstrom delivered the final report to Ban on Thursday. Ban will brief the U.N. General Assembly on the report on Friday and the U.N. Security Council on Monday.

“The use of chemical weapons is a grave violation of international law and an affront to our shared humanity,” Ban said. “We need to remain vigilant to ensure that these awful weapons are eliminated, not only in Syria, but everywhere.”

The United Nations has now received 16 reports of possible chemical weapons use in Syria, mainly from the Syrian government, Britain, France, and the United States. The experts looked closely at seven of those cases.

The U.N. experts were from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the World Health Organization.

France, Britain, and the United States said the technical details of Sellstrom’s initial September report on the Aug. 21 attack pointed to government culpability, while Syria and Russia blamed the rebels.

Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government agreed to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal after the Aug. 21 Ghouta attack, which had led to threats of U.S. airstrikes. Syria also acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution in September to enforce the deal, brokered by the United States and Russia, which requires Syria to account fully for its chemical weapons and for the arsenal to be removed and destroyed by mid-2014.

The Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has been charged with supervising the elimination of Syria’s chemical arsenal.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

World Bank Report on Palestinian Economy May Contain More Assumptions Than Realities.

World Bank
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) and Salam Fayyad (center), former prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority, look over a map during their visit to the West Bank‘s Area C, outside Ramallah. A new World Bank report, entitled ‘Area C and the Future of the Palestinian Economy,’ blames Israel for shortcomings within the Palestinian economy. (U.N. Photo/Mark Garten)

A new World Bank report that blames Israel for shortcomings within the Palestinian economy may be based more on assumptions for the future than on current realities.

The 70-page study, entitled “Area C and the Future of the Palestinian Economy,” was published Oct. 8. Conducted over a period of three years, it posits that Israeli restrictions on travel and access to resources in Israeli-controlled territories cost the Palestinian Authority an estimated $3.4 billion.

Yet a close look at the report reveals it makes numerous assumptions about Palestinian aspirations and behavior patterns, establishes a series of questionable multipliers, and downplays the significance of complex political factors and security realities, according to Steven Plaut, professor of economics at the University of Haifa.

“I think the World Bank doesn’t fully understand the Israeli economy or the Palestinian economy. What’s worse, they have a political agenda. They produce findings to match their political agenda,” Plaut told

“I think they are making it up as it goes along,” he said.

According to the report, “The total potential value added for alleviating today’s restrictions on the access to and activity and production in Area C is likely to amount to $3.4bn or thirty-five per cent of Palestinian GDP in 2011.”

Area C represents areas that are under full Israeli military and municipal jurisdiction according to the internationally recognized Oslo Accords, signed in 1993 by Israel and the Palestinians.

“Unleashing the potential from that ‘restricted land’—access to which is currently constrained by layers of restrictions—and allowing Palestinians to put these resources to work would provide whole new areas of economic activity and set the economy on the path to sustainable growth,” says Mariam Sherman, who directed operations for the World Bank in the West Bank and Gaza.

The new World Bank findings strongly suggest Israel is to blame for Palestinian economic failings. The report focuses most heavily on three areas: agriculture in land Palestinians do not have access to, allocations of water resources and exploitable resources and tourism surrounding the Dead Sea.

The report postulates the Palestinian economy would grow if Palestinians had access to invest in Dead Sea mineral works and tourism, areas that are currently controlled by Israel and could potentially remain in Israel’s possession as part of any bilateral permanent peace agreement.

“Part of the problem is the starting assumption that in the near future, the Palestinians will have their own state,” Plaut told “Economic reports that are meant to prepare the Palestinians for statehood, as opposed to current economic realities, are not helpful.”

The report also looks at agriculture in Israel’s Judea and Samaria communities as an indicator of loss and potential for the Palestinian economy. The report suggests that if Palestinians had access to the fertile ground of Israeli communities—no different than the adjacent grounds of Palestinian-controlled areas A and B—the Palestinians would be able to develop similar agricultural production.

Yet in 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew residents from 21 Jewish communities in Gaza and turned over greenhouses that were producing millions of dollars in agricultural exports to local Palestinians. Rather than utilizing the existing infrastructure for economic output, Palestinians destroyed the greenhouses.

Today, the former Jewish communities of Gaza are known more for their use as launching pads for rockets against Israeli cities than for Palestinian agricultural output.

Many in Israel believe that should Israel withdraw from territories it controls in Judea and Samaria, those territories would suffer the same fate as the once-vibrant communities in Gaza.

Rather than holding Palestinians accountable for nontransparent governance, misappropriation of foreign donations and the consistent promotion of terror that has led Israel to taking severe security measures, the report blames Israel for the potential effect such measures might have on a Palestinian economy.

In response to the report, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor states, “It postulates an abstract economy which is detached from all political and security aspects, unrelated to regional and global trends, and therefore totally unrealistic.”

“Pretending that all these key factors do not exist, or do not influence heavily the Palestinian economy, makes for a particularly partial rendering of the actual situation,” Palmor says.

One particular security measure that drew the attention of the report is checkpoints—barriers designed to curb the flow of terrorists and weapons from Palestinian communities into Israeli villages.

“It’s not the checkpoints, it’s the terrorism,” Plaut told “If somebody doesn’t like the economic damage caused by checkpoints, then the first thing that should be done is to stop the terrorism.”

In the same week the World Bank report was released, a Palestinian from the town of al-Bireh broke through security apparatus into the neighboring Jewish community of Psagot and shot a 9-year-old Israeli girl in the neck at point-blank range.

According to Plaut, Palestinians would be the first to benefit from a cessation of terror.

“If we talk strictly about economics, the policy that is best for Palestinians is free trade with Israel. Any barriers to economic trade hurt both sides. In the absence of terrorism, Israel has no reason to withhold the trading of resources or commodities,” he says.

While the World Bank report attempts to calculate the effects that Israeli security arrangements have on the Palestinian economy, it fails to consider the economic impact that expensive round-the-clock security measures have on the Israeli economy, Plaut believes.

“The costs are probably higher to Israelis, but Israel can afford it. Israel is a well-developed, prosperous country, whereas the Palestinian economy is underdeveloped,” he says.

In Plaut’s estimation, the primary recipient of blame for Palestinian economic incompetence should be the Palestinian Authority itself.

“If you would take away the foreign aid, the standard of living for Palestinians would drop down to third-world levels, similar to what we currently see in Jordan,” he says. “Palestinians in the West Bank, and particularly in Gaza, are living under a cleptocracy, governed by Fatah and Hamas. Economic prosperity for Palestinians is not necessarily an Israeli issue.”



Kenya Forces Take Control of Besieged Mall; Seek to End Bloodbath.

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenyan security forces took control of the besieged shopping mall in Nairobi Monday, killing two militants and freeing an unspecified number of hostages as it sought to end a two-day siege in which 69 people died.

Police and army officials occupy every level of the four-story Westgate Mall and the operation to flush out the gunmen and rescue those held captive may end “soon,” Interior Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku told reporters. Smoke continued to billow out of the building about three hours after a fire broke out amid sporadic bursts of gunfire.

“Evacuating hostages has gone on very well,” Ole Lenku said. “We are very certain that they are very, very few hostages if any in the building.”

The attack was the deadliest in the country since the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in downtown Nairobi that killed 213 people. Al-Shabab, the Somali Islamist militant group, claimed responsibility for the raid.

The group had threatened to strike Kenya after it deployed troops in Somalia in October 2011 to fight the militants whom it blamed for a series of kidnappings and the murder of a British tourist in Kenya. Al-Shabab denied the accusations

The attack began Sept. 21 when armed assailants burst into the mall around lunchtime, tossing hand grenades and spraying gunfire. At least 63 people are missing, the Kenya Red Cross said earlier today. It’s unclear if anyone left in the building is being forcibly held or hiding.

The attackers, all of them male and some of whom were dressed in female clothing, are “a multinational collection” of people, Kenya Chief of Defense Forces General Julius Karangi said.


A series of large explosions and automatic gunfire rocked the upscale mall at about 1:15 p.m. Shortly afterward, dozens of soldiers, some of them carrying heavy machine guns, and an army tank were seen at the main access road to the complex as thick black smoke billowed from the building.

The attackers had set fire to Nakumatt, a retail store, in the mall to create a distraction and possibly escape, Karangi said. Authorities have surrounded the building, he said.

“The risk for an attack on Westgate or another of Nairobi’s upscale malls was high and well known, but also very difficult to prevent entirely,” Clare Allenson, an Africa analyst at Eurasia Group in Washington, said in an email. “However, the lack of adequately equipped police first responders and generally poor communication and coordination of early efforts to secure the building underscores the weak state of Kenya’s security institutions overall.”


Accelerating growth in Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy, and its reputation as a relatively stable democracy has made the country a regional hub for companies including Toyota Motor Corp., and Google Inc., and the African headquarters for the United Nations.

Kenya’s prestige has already been shaken by International Criminal Court indictments of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, for their alleged involvement in crimes against humanity.

The men are accused of organizing violence following a disputed election in 2007, charges both deny. More than 1,100 people were killed in two months of ethnic and political clashes.

The court Monday allowed Ruto a one-week absence from his trial, which began on Sept. 10, to permit him to deal with the crisis.

Kenyatta, who lost a nephew in the attack, vowed to hunt down the attackers.

“We will punish the masterminds swiftly and painfully,” Kenyatta, 51, said in a nationally televised press briefing Sunday. Foreigners including four Britons, two French people, two Canadians, a South African, a Chinese, and Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor are confirmed among the dead.

The Westgate Mall caters to wealthy Kenyans and expatriate employees with about 80 shops that include cafes, a casino, a multi-screen movie theater, and a children’s play area.

Survivors of the attack hid in air vents, supply closets and washrooms for hours and found different ways to escape including jumping onto a next-door building or were escorted by security officials, some clutching children and crying.

World leaders and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon have condemned the attacks and offered to help. President Barack Obama called Kenyatta Sunday to express his condolences and reiterate U.S. support to bring the attackers to justice, according to a statement from the White House.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., a Republican member of the House intelligence committee, said he’s worried that the group may attack in the United States.

Al-Shabab is one of the only al-Qaida affiliates that has actively recruited in the United States, King said yesterday on ABC’s “This Week.”

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Assad Slams Western Powers on UN Draft Resolution.

Image: Assad Slams Western Powers on UN Draft Resolution


BEIJING — Syrian President Bashar Assad denounced the United States, France, and Britain for submitting a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council to place Syrian chemical weapons under international control, saying they were fighting an “imaginary enemy.”Assad, who was interviewed by China’s state television CCTV in Damascus said he was not concerned about the draft resolution and that China and Russia would “ensure any excuse for military action against Syria will not stand.”

“I am not concerned. Since its independence, Syria has been committed to all the treaties it has signed. We will honor everything that we have agreed to do,” an article posted on the CCTV website on Monday quoted Assad as saying, “And more importantly, I want to say, by submitting the draft to the U.N. Security Council, or by urging the U.S. and Russia to agree on a deal, the U.S., France, and Britain are just trying to make themselves winners in a war against a Syria which is their imaginary enemy.”

Russia and the United States brokered the deal to put Assad’s chemical arms stockpiles under international control to avert possible U.S. military strikes that Washington said would punish Assad for a poison gas attack last month.

Washington has blamed Assad’s forces for the attack, which it said killed more than 1,400 people. Assad blamed rebels battling to overthrow him, saying it made no sense for his forces to use chemical weapons when they were gaining the upper hand and while U.N. chemical inspectors were staying in central Damascus.

Under the U.S.-Russian deal, Assad must account for his chemical weapons stockpiles within a week and see them destroyed by the middle of next year.

Envoys from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China — met last Thursday for a third straight day to discuss a draft resolution Western powers hope will make the deal legally binding.

Russia, a key ally of Assad, is unhappy with the draft’s references to possible punitive measures against Syria under Article 7 of the U.N. charter, which talks about U.N. authorization for sanctions and military force.

In the interview, Assad said gunmen could hinder the access of chemical weapons inspectors to sites where the weapons were stored and made.

“We know that these terrorists are obeying the orders of other countries and these countries do drive these terrorists to commit acts that could get the Syrian government blamed for hindering this agreement,” he said.

Asked whether Syria had lots of chemical weapons, Assad said: “Syria has been manufacturing chemical weapons for decades so it’s normal for there to be large quantities in the country.”

“We are a nation at war, we’ve got territories that have been occupied for more than 40 years, but in any case, the Syrian army is trained to fight using conventional weapons,” Assad added.

He said the chemical weapons were stored “under special conditions to prevent any terrorist for other destructive forces from tampering with them, that is, destructive forces that could come from other countries.”

“So there is nothing to worry about. The chemical weapons in Syria are in a safe place that is secure and under the control of the Syrian army,”  Assad said.

Separately, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi told U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that China was willing to send experts to help in the Syrian chemical weapons destruction process, and reiterated that a political solution was the only way to solve the crisis in Syria.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said on Saturday Syria had handed over information about its chemical weapons arsenal, meeting the first deadline of the disarmament operation.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


Bernard-Henri Levy: Syria Deal Legitimizes Assad as a ‘Partner’.

One of the many deep problems with the Russian-American agreement to disarm Syria of chemical weapons is that it legitimizes Syrian President Bashar Assad, says acclaimed French author Bernard-Henri Levy.

“Assad has been transformed, as if by magic, from a war criminal and enemy of humanity (in the words of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon) into an unavoidable, nay, legitimate, negotiating partner — whose spirit of cooperation and responsibility I fear we will soon hear being widely praised,” Levy writes in The Wall Street Journal.

Levy also challenges the idea that a U.S. Russian agreement to place Assad’s chemical weapons under international control can be carried out.

“How, in a country at war, does one gather up and then destroy 1,000 tons of chemical weapons scattered across the entire territory?” he says, calling the deal “unverifiable” as well.

“According to the best estimates, the task would require 20 times more inspectors than the United Nations mustered in Syria last summer, and who, for the most part, remained shut up in their hotels or were trotted around by the regime.”

He also notes that the agreement is “unaffordable,” saying the United States “has invested $8 billion to $10 billion to destroy its own chemical weapons, and, 20 years later, the task is not yet finished.”

In addition, he criticizes the agreement’s mid-2014 timetable, calling it “meaningless.”

“[It] sounds like a bad joke in a country where, for 2 1/2 years now, hundreds of civilians have been killed each day by conventional arms.” Levy states.

Levy also argues that the agreement will have a negative impact on U.S. efforts to contain North Korea and Iran. The two countries, he says, “will have good reason to believe . . . that the West’s word, its warnings, the promises it makes to its allies, aren’t worth a thing.”

But he adds that the agreement, more than anything else, will likely create more horror for Syrian civilians, “who now more than ever find themselves trapped.”

“They are caught in a vise between the regime’s army — supported by Russian advisers, Hezbollah auxiliaries and Revolutionary Guards from Tehran — and the jihadists who draw strength from the West’s abdication and who increasingly are able to present themselves, despite poisonous future results not difficult to imagine, as the last hope of a people pushed to the brink,” Levy says.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Dan Weil

UN: ‘Widespread’ Syria Chemical Weapons Use; Tough Resolution Sought.

UNITED NATIONS — U.N. inspectors Monday reported widespread use of chemical weapons in Syria as Britain, France, and the United States launched a push for a tough Security Council resolution on the issue.

The keenly awaited inspectors’ report stated that there was clear evidence sarin killed hundreds of people in an August 21 attack that triggered threats of western military strikes against Bashar Assad‘s regime.

“The conclusion is that chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic . . . against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale,” said the report, which was to be released later by U.N. Secretary General  Ban Ki-moon.

The report said there was “clear and convincing” evidence of the use of sarin gas in the August 21 attack and that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent were used to deliver it.

The detail was in the first page of the report which was inadvertently leaked when it was included in an official picture of U.N. investigation leader Ake Sellstrom handing over the report to Ban.

Ban was to give the full report to the U.N. Security Council on Monday.

The United States, Britain, and France blame Assad’s forces for the attack and say it killed more than 1,400 people. The government, backed by Russia, denies the charge and blames opposition rebels.

The details of the report’s contents emerged as the western allies, meeting in Paris, warned Syria of “serious consequences” if it stalls on handing over its chemical weapons.

Kickstarting a week of intense diplomatic activity in the wake of a weekend U.S.-Russia deal on the proposed disarmament, the three powers also moved to bolster rebels fighting Assad’s regime and reiterated calls for the Syrian president to step down.

The tough tone triggered an immediate warning from Russia that western saber-rattling could derail efforts to bring the regime and rebels to the table for negotiations aimed at ending a civil war that has raged for over two years and left more than 110,000 people dead.

Secretary of State John Kerry said it was vital that the allies, who came to the brink of launching air strikes against Assad earlier this month, maintain the pressure on the regime.

“If Assad fails to comply with the terms of this framework make no mistake we are all agreed, and that includes Russia, that there will be consequences,” Kerry said. “If the Assad regime believes that this is not enforceable and we are not serious, they will play games.”

British Foreign Minister William Hague added: “The pressure is on them [the Syrians] to comply with this agreement in full. The world must be prepared to hold them to account if they don’t.”

The United States and Russia agreed in Geneva on Saturday that an ambitious accord aimed at eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons by mid-2014 be enshrined in a Security Council resolution backed up by the threat of unspecified sanctions in the event of non-compliance.

Russia has made it clear it will block any move to write an explicit authorization for the use of military force into the resolution.

Lavrov said that kind of approach would scupper hopes of a resumption of suspended peace negotiations in Geneva.

“If for someone it is more important to constantly threaten . . . that is another path to wrecking completely the chances of calling the Geneva-2 conference,” Lavrov told journalists in Moscow.

The U.S.-Russia deal agreed on Saturday gives Assad a week to hand over details of his chemical weapons stockpiles and calls for inspections of what the United States says are some 45 sites linked to the program, which is to be underway by November with the aim of neutralizing the country’s chemical capacity by mid-2014.

The deal was greeted with dismay by rebel leaders, who fear that the West’s willingness to do business with Assad will consolidate his grip on power and stall the momentum of moves to provide them with the arms they need to tilt the balance of the civil war in their favor.

Fabius and Kerry attempted to reassure the rebels that they had not been forgotten with the French minister announcing an international meeting with leaders of the Syrian National Coalition on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York next week.

“We know that in order to negotiate a political solution, there has to be a strong opposition,” Fabius said.

France has long championed the opposition coalition but there is concern in other western capitals about the prominent role that hardened Islamist fighters are playing in the fight against Assad’s forces.

Kerry also emphasized that Assad’s agreement to the chemical weapons handover did not give him any more right to remain in power.

“Nothing in what we’ve done is meant to offer any notion to Assad . . . that he has some extended period as a leader, so-called,” Kerry said.

© AFP 2013

Menendez: Prosecute Assad for War Crimes.

Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Syrian President Bashar Assad should be prosecuted for war crimes for the recent chemical attack on civilians.

Referring to a statement by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday that Assad has committed crimes against humanity, Menendez urged the U.N. to pursue those charges against the Syrian leader.

Menendez told NBC’sMeet the Press” the Obama administration’s deal is “full of opportunities but fraught with danger,” and warned that Assad could use the negotiation period to buy more time on the battlefield “and continue to ravage innocent civilians.”

Although the deal with Russia continues to be negotiated, Menendez urged Congress to keep military force on the table as an option to remove chemical weapons from Assad’s control.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Audrey Hudson

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