» 02/17/2012, 00.00
SYRIA - UN
UN General Assembly condemns Syria
The non-binding resolution was supported by 137 in favour, 12 against and 17 abstentions. It does not criticize opposition violence. Ban Ki-moon calls on Assad to stop possible "crimes against humanity". Russian and Chinese envoys in Damascus; in Tunis, Western and Arab countries studying support maybe even military intervention. No attention paid to what Syrian people want.
New York (AsiaNews) - The UN General Assembly yesterday overwhelmingly approved a motion condemning Syria, supporting the proposal of the Arab League urging President Bashar Assad to step down from power.
The resolution, similar to the one presented to the Security Council on Feb. 4 (see Media 06/02/2012 Chinese media claim veto to UN resolution against Damascus "for the good of the people"), received 137 votes in favor, 12 against and 17 abstentions. Russia and China, who had vetoed the Security Council, voted against the motion (there is no veto in the Assembly). They were joined by Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, Bolivia and others. But the resolution is non-binding and is only a moral victory.
The U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, emphatically, praised the outcome: "Today - she said - the UN General Assembly has sent a clear signal to the people of Syria: the world is with you."
Vitaly Churkin, the Russian Ambassador, rejected the resolution because it "reflects a worrying line ... the attempt to isolate the Syrian leadership, refusing all contact with it and trying to impose a political solution through a foreign formula ".
Previously, the Arab League - which submitted the resolution - rejected the amendments proposed by Russia, which wanted to include a condemnation of violence by the Syrian opposition.
Even countries that have supported the motion, like India, maintain that it is unbalanced.
Bashar Jaafari, the Syrian ambassador, rejected the resolution, saying that it is part of a plot to overthrow the Syrian government and allow the "terrorist" opposition to take power.
Earlier, speaking from Vienna, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon has asked Syria to stop the killings of civilians. "We see neighbourhoods indiscriminately bombed - he said - hospitals used as torture centres, children under 10 years killed and abused. It is almost certain that we are dealing with crimes against humanity".
According to the UN, in the 11 months of unrest over 5400 people have been killed, but the opposition and Saudi Arabia - which dominates the Arab League - say that the dead are at least 7 thousand.
The deadlock makes every party even more determined to go his own way. Zhai Jun, Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs is in Damascus today for talks with the government. Last week the Chinese authorities in Beijing met with opposition members. In the next week, the Russian envoy Alexei Pushkov will arrive in Damascus. Moscow will only support a resolution that also condemns opposition violence and does not exclude Assad and the Syrian government from any dialogue on the future of Syria.
Next week in Tunis, Arab and Western countries have organized a meeting of "Friends of Syria" to find ways to support the opposition and remove Assad. Arab countries - Saudi Arabia and Qatar in the lead - want a NATO intervention similar to that which ousted leader Gaddafi in Libya and are studying ways of supporting the opposition with weapons.
AsiaNews sources point out that in recent months, the Syrian arena has become a field of conflict between different foreign powers and no one seems to cares anymore about what the Syrian people want. In this framework, the proposals for reform offered by Assad - a referendum on new constitution for February 26 - are falling on deaf ears or impossible to apply because of the violence bordering on civil war.
West and the Arab League to press Moscow for a UN resolution that will stop Assad
The Security Council could deal with the Syrian crisis Thursday or Friday. An Arab-European draft resolution faces Russia's veto threat. The violence continue: yesterday a hundred deaths, especially in the province of Homs.
As fighting reaches Damascus, apostolic nuncio expects dark days ahead
Mgr Mario Zenari describes the tensions residents face. For the past two days, the capital has been the scene of fighting between rebels and the Republican Guard, with 64 dead. The witness of nuns from Azeir monastery (Homs) is a sign of hope for Christians, Alawis and Sunnis.
18/02/2012 SYRIA - CHINA
Chinese envoy in Damascus to "strengthen cooperation"
Beijing remains opposed to a violent regime change or the intervention of an external military force and hopes for the expansion of the internal dialogue and reform. Yesterday 40 people were killed.
"Friends of Syria" arm rebels and sanction Assad
The opposition confirms receiving arms from Western countries. Saudi Arabia decides to arm the rebels and overthrow Assad. France, Great Britain, the United States are pushing for a resolution of the UN Security Council. Hamas sides with the opposition, for an "Islamic Syria". Damascus declares that the Tunis meeting supports "terrorism". Tomorrow the referendum for new constitution.
Damascus accepts Arab observers, but on conditions
Assad has informed the Arab League of his assent to observers to monitor the situation in order to avoid a tightening of sanctions. However, he also places conditions, which the Arab countries will discuss. Today Hillary Clinton meets with opposition in Geneva.
POLAND - CHINA - WYD
Beijing's tricks and violence to stop Chinese youth from reaching WYD
Vincenzo Faccioli Pintozzi
The government yesterday blocked a group of 50 young pilgrims who had already boarded a plane bound for Krakow. Interrogated for hours by immigration, they were "admonished" and sent home with orders not to contact anyone abroad. Meanwhile, "young Chinese Catholics" hang around central World Youth Day locations in groups of five or six, with the task of spying on fellow countrymen. They work for cultural institutes or Chinese companies in Poland.
ISLAM - EUROPE
Fr Samir: Islamic terror in France and Germany a crisis of integration, but above all of politics
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