Syrian official: UN resolution shows US lost

It’s difficult to argue with that assessment, too. Yesterday afternoon, Samantha Power bragged that the UN Security Council agreed to impose a chemical-weapons disarmament regime on Syria, with Russia and China on board:


Power then made this statement:

That depends on the definition of “ready.” The actual UNSC resolution does not include an option to resort to force under Chapter VII, as McClatchy reported afterward:

U.S. officials said the resolution deems Syria’s chemical arsenal a threat to international peace and security and makes it legally binding for President Bashar Assad’s government to comply with an expedited plan to hand over the weapons to international authorities for destruction.

The tricky part, however, is in language about what happens should Syria fail to fulfill its end of the deal, which includes refraining from the use or transport of chemical weapons, and allowing international authorities unfettered access to related facilities.

U.S. negotiators gave up the demand of military force, authorized under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, as a consequence for noncompliance, compromising with the Russians on softer wording that says the Security Council would be “authorized to impose measures under Chapter 7,” according to diplomats and news reports.

That means no punitive measures would kick in automatically. Instead, chemical weapons authorities would have to report any alleged violations to the Security Council, which would have to determine whether Syria had in fact failed to comply with the resolution. And even after that, the Security Council would have to agree on the appropriate punishment under Chapter 7, which allows for measures other than military action.

Translation: The mechanism for responding to alleged noncompliance gives Assad’s chief ally, Russia, at least two opportunities to block punitive consequences at the Security Council.


An even clearer translation: the US lost. Despite Power’s claims, the UN isn’t “ready” to impose anything under Chapter VII.  Russia made sure of that.  It will take at least one vote at the UNSC and possibly two for the UN to be “ready” to act under Chapter VII, and it’s a safe bet that Russia will exercise its vetoes in either or both cases to make sure no one attacks Syria — at least not under the auspices of the UN.

That brings us to the Syrian lawmaker, Issam Khalil, who declared victory to the Associated Press.  Khalil points out that this is essentially the deal that Russia had pushed all along — and to which Bashar al-Assad had already agreed:

A Syrian lawmaker says the draft U.N. resolution on Syria represents a failure for U.S. diplomacy since the text doesn’t spell out possible military action over Syria‘s chemical weapons.

Issam Khalil told The Associated Press on Friday the U.S. failed to “impose its will” and have the draft invoke Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter.

Khalil says the text is “more similar” to the original Russian initiative that Syria had already accepted.

The bluster about military strikes ended up netting the US nothing … except egg on our faces.  Now we have the Russians leading Western diplomacy, Assad as an essential player in securing chemical weapons, and all the incentives for both to string this out as long as possible.


This must be what’s known as smart power.

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