Monday, October 24, 2005

Agreement Building on Syria Resolution

The UN Security Council will take enjoin the debate on Syria's transgressions tomorrow. At the center of the debate will be an as yet undisclosed resolution issued jointly by the US and France that will take Syria to task for its role in the assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri last February. (Kuwait News Agency: Council to send "strong, clear, unambiguous signal" to Syria).

According to US ambassador to the UN John Bolton, the US is working closely with France and Russia to finalize the draft of the resolution and obtain a consensus on its wording and implications. The goal is to be unambiguous - not one of the UN's strongest suits. That the negotiations are coming down to those three nations would imply some disagreement over the potential threat of the use of force.

Said ambassador Bolton, "we thought of a lot of different options but we haven't settled on what direction we are going to go yet. There is no decision on chapter seven. We are still consulting, but it is going to be a strong resolution." Chapter seven refers to the threat of "serious consequences", the UN euphemism for military action.

A resolution against Syria that does not invoke chapter seven is worthless. Unless faced with a unified front in the Security Council that leaves Syria without any doubt that they will face military action if they don't fully cooperate with the UN investigation, halt support of the Iraqi insurgency, and halt support for the terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah, then Syria will have no incentive to change their ways.

This is Bolton's first real challenge since being appointed by President Bush during a Senate recess, bypassing the confirmation process. It will be interesting to see if he is up to the challenge of staring down both France and Russia. A strong message to Syria that invokes chapter seven will be a huge victory for Bolton and will signal a significant shift in the US' influence in the Security Council. Given Bolton's latest comments, the only sticking point now is that chapter seven clause. We will see in the coming days how strong Bolton will be as US ambassador. This particular challenge may well decide if he will ultimately be confirmed by the Senate when his 18 months are up or if he will be a weakened lame duck ambassador without any real influence.


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