United Nations, Asharq Al-Awsat – The United Nations witnessed a flurry of diplomatic activity on Sunday as three permanent Security Council members, The United States, Britain, and France attempted to convince other members, China, Russia, and Algeria to change their position and support a draft UN resolution threatening Syria with sanctions if it does not cooperate with the UN investigation into the death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
The disagreement centers on paragraph 13 which threatens to adopt “additional measures”, according to Article 41 of the UN Charter, if need be, to ensure Damascus complies with the resolution. The threat of sanctions is considered unacceptable by Russia, China, and Algeria who believe it is not necessary at this stage.
French diplomatic sources told Asharq al Awsat that the next few hours preceding the Council meeting will be crucial as discussions continued and a US source remained optimistic the resolution would be adopted with little or no change.
The United States and France expect to receive the support of 12 members of the Security Council after obtaining the support of non-permanent members Brazil, Tanzania, Argentina, the Philippines.
Hoping to demonstrate the Council was in agreement on Syria, France, the United States, and Britain are seeking a unanimous vote. This will depend on whether they are ready to give in on Article 13 to gain the support of Russia, Algeria, and China.
Whereas US ambassador John Bolton stressed the necessity of the UN resolution and that it should be “very strong, very clear", even if unanimity is not achieved, his French counterpart, Marc de la Sabliere, indicated Paris would continue to hope for a consensus until the last minute.
Undoubtedly, Paris and Washington have different goals, especially regarding sanctions with France reaffirming that sanctions can only be considered a step-by-step measure and opposed imposing sanctions immediately. Differences emerged in the run up to resolution 1559, adopted in September 2004, when French refused to put pressure on Hezbollah to force it to disarm, in conflict with the US administration.