Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters in New York on May 13th that, despite the resignation of UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, efforts to find a political solution in Syria must continue. To that end, Russia has introduced a draft resolution to the Security Council “in order to try to develop a positive momentum even under the current difficult circumstances.” The resolution, Churkin said, is mostly on the humanitarian aspect of the situation and uses, as its point of departure, the recent truce in Homs that allowed rebel fighters to leave the city, while allowing in humanitarian supplies. “But also our hope is that it’s going to help to move ahead the political process in Syria,” he said. He added that “we do believe that the third round of Geneva II Conference must be convened as quickly as possible.”
As for a third round of talks, Churkin reported that the Syrian government is prepared to do that, but the opposition is not, so it’s up to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon or Brahimi’s successor to decide whether or not convene further talks. He said:”We know that some countries have their doubts about the wisdom of convening the third round; we don’t share those doubts… We believe that getting the parties into the habit of talking in itself has serious value in this kind of a process.”
Obama Sets the Stage for More Bloodshed in Syria
President Obama met with the Syrian Opposition Coalition President Ahmad Jarba on May 13 in Washington when the latter was meeting with the National Security Adviser Susan Rice. During their meeting, Obama and Rice praised Jarba and his coalition delegation and accused “the Assad regime’s deliberate targetting of Syrian civilians through aerial bombardments — including the use of barrel bombs — and the denial of food and humanitarian assistance to civilians located in areas under siege by the regime.” Obama said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has lost all legitimacy to rule his country and has no place in the future of the nation.
A week earlier, the White House had said in a statement that Obama has approved $287 million in nonlethal assistance to the opposition and its $1.7 billion commitment to humanitarian aid in Syria and neighboring countries, Associated Press reported. The statement did not mention Jarba’s previous plea to the Obama administration for anti-aircraft weapons. Officials say the non-lethal assistance that is being provided includes communications equipment, body armor and night-vision goggles — but declined to give a detailed inventory of the aid.
Last week, during his talks in talks with Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department, Jarba indeed made the request, according to unnamed officials cited by Agence France Presse.
The ground for more aid to Jarba in order to enhance anti-Assad activities was put in place on May 6 when the United States officially recognized the Syrian National Coalition as a diplomatic foreign mission and boosted assistance to the group.