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Tuesday, November 01, 2005 

US, UK, France drop the threat of sanctions

The three pro-sanctions nations surprised the world by removing any mention of sanctions in the UN resolution against Syria today.

They were expected to push for a resolution threatening sanctions if Syria did not 'fully co-operate' with Mehlis. Russia and China were expected to abstain, allowing the resolution to pass, but not giving their support to it.

But at the last minute, the reference was changed to 'further action if necessary'. it is clear that the Russian, Chinese and Algerian negotiators had an important part to play in getting that through.

The last minute change does, however, allow the big three to claim that the 'international community' is behind them.


Syrians glued to UN debate
By Kim Ghattas
BBC News, Damascus

Syria's ailing economy would be hard-hit by sanctions
In homes and cafes, at work and in the car, many Syrians tuned in to news channels on the radio and television, waiting anxiously for the outcome of the United Nations Security Council session in New York.
Flicking from one channel to another, Syrians were relieved when it became absolutely clear that sanctions had not been imposed on the whole of the country and its already ailing economy.

But people in Damascus were also shocked to see their country be the focus of a Security Council meeting.

"This is serious, we are headline news, the world is looking at us and it's a bit worrying," said one young Syrian, who gave his name as Anas.

"I still think we have nothing do with the Hariri assassination, but I'm not sure what I think about how the government is dealing with everything, it makes us look bad."

The unanimous adoption of the binding resolution was a surprise to some, who had hoped that Algeria, for example, would vote against it.


Ahead of the vote, Syria's state-controlled newspapers had said the resolution was Washington's way of marginalising Syria and stripping it of its regional role.

It came a day after Syria announced it was setting up its own enquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The move was seen as a way for Damascus to deflect some of the pressure ahead of the UN vote.

"The whole resolution was more antagonistic than expected, even though some positive changes were made," said George Jabbour, a member of parliament who is close to government thinking.

"What happens next depends on (chief UN investigator) Detlev Mehlis, whether he will co-operate or dictate to the Syrian commission."

But one Syrian dissident said the commission would have no impact, because no Syrian judge would have the courage to summon relatives of the Syrian president, who were named in one version of the UN report as having had a possible role in the planning of the Hariri murder.

But critics of the Syrian leadership also said they were relieved that their country had escaped sanctions.

"If there had been sanctions on the country and not just on individuals, then this would have given the Syrian regime a pretext to say that the government and the people were one, which is not the case," said one.

"They would have said people should close ranks with the leadership in the face of international pressure."

Asad should move rapidly to start the investigation by calling Mehles to Damscus for a meeting with the president to see the evidence that he has this meeting is better to come from Syria than from Mehles as it is coming the presidet will seek help from the security services which are loyal to him and can be trusted to conduct a full investigation at the same meeting he will ask the security service that he trusts to coperate with Mehles compleetly,with this plan Syria will be jumping forward to lead the investigation instead of being under it,s mercy.

The resolution indicate that Rusia and China are impotent against the US.

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