Archive for the ‘ Global Oligarchy ’ Category

Trump peace plan delights Israelis, enrages Palestinians

January 29, 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump unveiled his long-awaited Mideast peace plan Tuesday alongside a beaming Benjamin Netanyahu, presenting a vision that matched the Israeli leader’s hard-line, nationalist views while falling far short of Palestinian ambitions.

Trump’s plan envisions a disjointed Palestinian state that turns over key parts of the West Bank to Israel. It sides with Israel on key contentious issues that have bedeviled past peace efforts, including borders and the status of Jerusalem and Jewish settlements, and attaches nearly impossible conditions for granting the Palestinians their hoped-for state.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the plan as “nonsense” and vowed to resist it. Netanyahu called it a “historic breakthrough” equal in significance to the country’s declaration of independence in 1948.

“It’s a great plan for Israel. It’s a great plan for peace,” he said. He vowed to immediately press forward with his plans to annex the strategic Jordan Valley and all the Israeli settlements in occupied lands. Netanyahu said he’d ask his Cabinet to approve the annexation plans in their next meeting on Sunday, an explosive move that could trigger harsh international reaction and renewed violence with the Palestinians.

“This dictates once and for all the eastern border of Israel,” Netanyahu told Israeli reporters later. “Israel is getting an immediate American recognition of Israeli sovereignty on all the settlements, without exceptions.”

Given the Palestinian opposition, the plan seems unlikely to lead to any significant breakthrough. But it could give a powerful boost to both Trump and Netanyahu who are both facing legal problems ahead of tough elections.

Trump called his plan a “win-win” for both Israel and the Palestinians, and urged the Palestinians not to miss their opportunity for independence. But Abbas, who accuses the U.S. of unfair bias toward Israel, rejected it out of hand.

“We say 1,000 no’s to the Deal of the Century,” Abbas said, using a nickname for Trump’s proposal. “We will not kneel and we will not surrender,” he said, adding that the Palestinians would resist the plan through “peaceful, popular means.”

The plan comes amid Trump’s impeachment trial and on a U.S. election year, and after Netanyahu was indicted on counts of fraud, breach of trust and bribery in three separate cases. The longtime Israeli leader, who denies any wrongdoing, also faces a March 2 parliamentary election, Israel’s third in less than a year. He hopes to use the plan, and his close ties with Trump, to divert attention from his legal troubles.

The Palestinians seek all of the West Bank and east Jerusalem — areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war — for an independent state and the removal of many of the more than 700,000 Israeli settlers from these areas.

But as details emerged, it became clear that the plan sides heavily with Netanyahu’s hard-line nationalist vision for the region and shunts aside many of the Palestinians’ core demands. Under the terms of the “peace vision” that Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has been working on for nearly three years, all settlers would remain in place, and Israel would retain sovereignty over all of its settlements as well as the strategic Jordan Valley.

“The Israeli military will continue to control the entire territory,” Netanyahu said. “No one will be uprooted from their home.” The proposed Palestinian state would also include more than a dozen Israeli “enclaves” with the entity’s borders monitored by Israel. It would be demilitarized and give Israel overall security control. In addition, the areas of east Jerusalem offered to the Palestinians consist of poor, crowded neighborhoods located behind a hulking concrete separation barrier.

Trump acknowledged that he has done a lot for Israel, but he said he wanted the deal to be a “great deal for the Palestinians.” The plan would give the Palestinians limited control over an estimated 70% of the West Bank, nearly double the amount where they currently have limited self-rule. Trump said it would give them time needed to meet the challenges of statehood.

The only concession the plan appears to demand of Israel is a four-year freeze on the establishment of new Israeli settlements in certain areas of the West Bank. But Netanyahu clarified later that this only applied to areas where there are no settlements and Israel has no immediate plans to annex, and that he considered the plan to impose no limitations on construction.

Thousands of Palestinians protested in Gaza City ahead of the announcement, burning pictures of Trump and Netanyahu and raising a banner reading “Palestine is not for sale.” Trump said he sent a letter to Abbas to tell him that the territory that the plan has set aside for a new Palestinian state will remain open and undeveloped for four years.

“It’s going to work,” Trump said, as he presented the plan at a White House ceremony filled with Israeli officials and allies, including evangelical Christian leaders and wealthy Republican donors. Representatives from the Arab countries of Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates were present, but there were no Palestinian representatives.

“President Abbas, I want you to know, that if you chose the path to peace, America and many other countries … we will be there to help you in so many different ways,” he said. “And we will be there every step of the way.”

The 50-page plan builds on a 30-page economic plan for the West Bank and Gaza that was unveiled last June and which the Palestinians have also rejected. It envisions a future Palestinian state consisting of the West Bank and Gaza, connected by a combination of roads and tunnels. It also would give small areas of southern Israel to the Palestinians as compensation for lost West Bank land.

But the many caveats, and ultimate overall Israeli control, made the deal a nonstarter for the Palestinians. Netanyahu and his main political challenger in March elections, Benny Gantz, had signed off on the plan.

“Mr. President, because of this historic recognition and because I believe your peace plan strikes the right balance where other plans have failed,” Netanyahu said. “I’ve agreed to negotiate peace with the Palestinians on the basis of your peace plan.

The Jordan Valley annexation is a big part of Netanyahu’s strategy and a key promise meant to appeal to his hard-line nationalist base, which mostly applauded the Trump plan. U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the plan’s release, said they expected negative responses from the Palestinians, but were hopeful that Jordan and Egypt, the only two Arab nations to have peace treaties with Israel, would not reject it outright.

Jordan gave the plan a cool reaction, saying it remained committed to a two-state solution based on Israel’s pre-1967 lines. It also said it rejected any unilateral move by Israel, referring to the annexation plan.

The reaction of Jordan, which would retain its responsibilities over Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque under the plan, is particularly significant. Located next to the West Bank, Jordan also is home to a large Palestinian population.

Egypt, the first Arab country to reach a peace deal with Israel, urged Israelis and Palestinians to carefully study the plan. The European Union also said it needed to study it more closely. Saudi Arabia, another key Arab country, said it appreciated the Trump administration’s efforts and encouraged the resumption of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians “under the auspices of the United States.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the United Nations supports two states living in peace and security within recognized borders, on the basis of the pre-1967 borders, according to his spokesman.

The Palestinians see the West Bank as the heartland of a future independent state and east Jerusalem as their capital. Most of the international community supports their position, but Trump has reversed decades of U.S. foreign policy by siding more blatantly with Israel. The centerpiece of his strategy was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the American Embassy there. He’s also closed Palestinian diplomatic offices in Washington and cut funding to Palestinian aid programs.

Those policies have proven popular among Trump’s evangelical and pro-Israel supporters. But the Palestinians refuse to even speak to Trump and they called on support from Arab leaders.

Associated Press writer Josef Federman in Jerusalem and Deb Riechmann in Washington contributed.

SYRIA. Has American bet on Islamic Front failed?

26 December 2013

The Americans tried to bet on the Islamic Front (IF) in Syria, but failed. Interest in this movement has recently begun to arouse in America, when it became clear that the IF move away the Free Syrian Army (FSA), associated with the pro-western “national coalition”.

On November 20, 7 large groups of Mujahideen announced the creation of a coalition – the Islamic Front – which included about 45,000 fighters.

They stated that the Islamic Front was an independent political, military and social entity, whose main objective was to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad and establish an Islamic order in the country, writes UmmaNews.

According to reports, the movement includes Ahrar al-Sham, Liwa al-Tawhid, Liwa al-Haqq, Sukur al-Sham, The Army of Islam, Ansar al-Sham and The Kurdish Front.

The Islamic Front withdrew from the Supreme Military Council of the FSA which acted in coordination with the pro-western puppet National Coalition. A few days later, the Mujahideen took over the bases and warehouses of the FSA in the province of Idlib, where weapons and military equipment, delivered to Syria from Turkey, had been stored.

Mujahideen took over the headquarters of the Supreme Military Council of the FSA in the town of Atma. Its head – brigadier general Salim Idris – left Syria

Media started writing about the Islamic Front and leaked information that “the IF leaders oppose groups associated with Al-Qaeda”.

Following this, American foreign minister Kerry said Washington was ready to bet on the Islamic Front as “its player” and to start negotiations:

“The United States has not yet met representatives of the Islamic Front. There has been no discussion. It’s possible that it could take place”, said Kerry.

But very soon, a senior US diplomat admitted that “Islamist rebels” rejected talks with America.

“The Islamic Front has refused to sit down with us without giving any reason”, said the American emissary to Syria Robert Ford.

Pro-Assad media condemned Washington attempts to talk with Mujahideen and stated that the Islamic Front “in its principles, strategies and objectives is the same as Jabhat al-Nusrah”.

The Islamic Front includes one of the largest Syria’s movements, Ahrar al-Sham, which has close relations with Jabhat al-Nusrah. These days, Al-Qaeda and the Islamic Front seized together a large Alawite base in Aleppo.

Moreover, as reported, Mujahideen brigades, included in the Islamic Front, not only cooperate with Jabhat al-Nusrah (Al-Qaeda in Syria), but also fight under its leadership.

For example, in the area of Qalamoun, an operational headquarters has been established under the leadership of Jabhat. It includes Ahrar al-Sham, Liwa al-Haqq, which are members of the Islamic Front, and Ahrar al-Sham – a core group of the IF.

It is obvious that in Syria, the west is trying to repeat the scenario of Mali. It is to be recalled that in 2012, vast areas of northern Mali (Azawad) were under the control of Islamic movements, where Mujahideen established the rule of Sharia. In Azawad, there were three major groups: Ansar al-Din, The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA) and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

The West flatly refused to talk to AQIM and MOJWA but was ready to negotiate with the Ansar al-Din. In exchange, infidels demanded to cut ties with al-Qaeda and abandon “terrorism”.

After a meeting between the representatives of Ansar al-Din with emissaries of regional movements, western media wrote that the movement “renounced all forms of terrorism and extremism” and almost agreed to democracy.

But it was all lies.

In his interview with Sahara Media, Emir of Ansar al-Din, Iyad Ag Ghaly, emphasized that it would be mandatory in Mali to set the rule of Sharia, and as for the Al-Qaeda, there were no plans to break ties with it. In an interview to Al Jazeera, the spokesman of the movement, Sanda Ould Bouamama, also stressed that the relations between Ansar al-Din and Al Qaeda had been based on Muslim brotherhood:

“Everyone knows that we are a local independent Islamic group. Our relations with al Qaeda and other groups are the same as our relations with any other Muslims. We share the same faith – that is all. Nothing more, and nothing less”, said the representative of Ansar al-Din.

The same policy of disinformation was tried half a year ago, when the Mujahideen of the IEA opened a political office in Qatar for possible talks with US.

In the press, there were the same information leaks about a supposedly moderate wing of the IEA, which, they said, was almost ready to give up “terrorism” and agree to democracy.

Department of Monitoring
Kavkaz Center

Source: Kavkaz Center.

Palestine votes at UN General Assembly

Tue Nov 19, 2013

Palestine has cast its first vote at the United Nations General Assembly, taking another step toward becoming a full member of the UN.

“This is an important step in our march for freedom and independence and full membership of the United Nations,” said Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour on Monday.

“I think that this is a very, very special moment in the history of the struggle of the Palestinian people at the United Nations,” Mansour said, adding, “It is another step for strengthening the pillars of… Palestine in the international arena.”

“It (the vote) is an important one because it reflects that the international community, particularly the General Assembly, is hungry and waiting for…Palestine to become a full member of the United Nations,” he said.

On November 29, 2012, the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status at the UN from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state” despite strong opposition from Israel and the US.

One hundred and thirty-eight voted in favor of the measure, nine against and 41 abstained.

The move followed a failed bid to join the international body as a full member state in 2011 because of a lack of support in the UN Security Council.

On October 31, 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization General Conference in Paris admitted Palestine as its 195th member state, with 107 votes in favor, 14 votes against, and 52 abstentions.

Source: PressTV.

Diplomat: Jordan to Replace Saudis on UN Council

November 8, 2013 (AP)

Jordan will replace Saudi Arabia on the Security Council for a two-year term starting in January after the Saudis’ unprecedented rejection of the seat hours after they were elected, a U.N. diplomat said Thursday.

The diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because the deal was made privately, said Jordan’s U.N. Ambassador Prince Zeid al Hussein was flying to Amman on Thursday night to discuss Jordan’s new role on the U.N.’s most powerful body.

Earlier this week, Jordan dropped its bid for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council, leaving Saudi Arabia a clear path in the now uncontested election next Tuesday.

Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights organization, said: “It is appalling that seats on the world’s top human rights body are being traded like merchandise, treated as trinkets by non-democracies.”

The U.N. General Assembly, which voted on Oct. 17 to give Saudi Arabia the seat traditionally reserved for an Arab nation on the council, will have to formally approve Jordan as a replacement. Since Jordan is almost certain to be the only candidate, its election is virtually assured.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry stunned the diplomatic world with the announcement that it was rejecting the seat, less than 24 hours after it was elected. The Saudis issued a scathing attack on the Security Council’s failures to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the war in Syria, and to convene a conference on creating a zone in the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.

The rejection appeared largely directed at the country’s longtime ally, the United States.

The oil giant and the world’s superpower are at odds over a number of Mideast issues, including how Washington has handled some of the region’s crises, particularly in Egypt and Syria. It also comes as ties between the U.S. and Iran, the Saudis’ regional foe, appear to be improving somewhat.

Jordan, which shares a border with Israel, has been a key behind-the-scenes player in efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. U.S. Secretary of State was in Amman on Thursday trying to rally support for his peace efforts from King Abdullah II and warning of a return to violence if peace efforts fail.

Jordan also shares a border with Syria and has become a major destination for refugees fleeing the 2 1/2-year civil war.

According to the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, Jordan had 250,000 Syrian refugees in January and is expected to have 432,500 in December, second only to Turkey.

In April, Prince Zeid sent a letter to the Security Council saying the refugee crisis had sparked “a grave humanitarian situation” that threatens the country’s security and stability.

In August, King Abdullah warned that ethnic and sectarian violence sweeping across several Arab countries could lead to the “destruction” of the Muslim world.

The civil war in Syria has taken on an increasingly sectarian tone, pitting predominantly Sunni rebels against a regime dominated by an offshoot of Shiism, which is allied with Shiite-majority Iran. Jordan is worried that the violence could spill across the border.

Diplomats from a number of countries had tried to persuade Saudi Arabia to change its mind and take the seat, arguing that it could achieve more inside the council than outside. But the Saudis never backed down.

On Oct. 21, Foreign Minister Saud Al Faisal sent letters to a number of “friendly countries” seeking support for its decision to turn down the seat. One letter, obtained by AP, said support for the Saudi decision would be deeply appreciated and demonstrate “the depth of bilateral relations between our two countries.”

Source: ABC News.

US, Israel lose UNESCO voting right in dispute

November 09, 2013

PARIS (AP) — American influence in culture, science and education around the world took a high-profile blow when the U.S. automatically lost voting rights at UNESCO by missing a deadline to repay its debt to the world’s cultural agency.

The U.S. hasn’t paid its dues to the Paris-based U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in three years in protest to the decision by world governments to make Palestine a UNESCO member in 2011. Israel suspended its dues at the same time in support of the U.S. and also lost voting rights on Friday.

Under UNESCO rules, the U.S. and Israel had until Friday morning to resume funding or explain themselves, or to automatically lose their vote. A UNESCO official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue, said nothing was received from either country.

The suspension of U.S. contributions — which account for $80 million a year, or 22 percent of UNESCO’s overall budget — brought the agency to the brink of a financial crisis and forced it to end or scale back American-led initiatives such as Holocaust education and tsunami research over the past two years.

Many in Washington are now worried that the U.S. is on track to becoming a toothless UNESCO member with a weakened voice in international programs such as fighting extremism through education and promoting gender equality and press freedoms.

Some fear that a weaker U.S. presence will lead to growing anti-Israeli sentiment within UNESCO, where Arab-led criticism of Israel for territorial reasons has long been an issue. “We won’t be able to have the same clout,” said Phyllis Magrab, the Washington-based U.S. national commissioner for UNESCO. “In effect, we (now won’t) have a full tool box. We’re missing our hammer.”

The UNESCO tension has prompted new criticism of U.S. laws that force an automatic funding cutoff for any U.N. agency with Palestine as a member. The official list of countries that lose their votes was expected to be read aloud on Saturday before the entire UNESCO general conference.

In a speech Friday night, David Killion, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to UNESCO, told delegates that top U.S. officials, including President Barack Obama “have been working tirelessly to seek a legislative remedy that would allow the United States to resume paying our contributions to UNESCO. Regrettably, that remedy has not yet been achieved.”

But in defense of the U.S. suspension of funds, Killion reminded member nations that the United States had articulated its “principled position” regarding Palestine long before the controversial 2011 decision.

Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, Nimrod Barkan, said in an interview that his country supports the U.S. decision, “objecting to the politicization of UNESCO, or any international organization, with the accession of a non-existing country like Palestine.”

UNESCO may be best known for its program to protect the cultures of the world via its Heritage sites, which include the Statue of Liberty and Mali’s Timbuktu. But its core mission, as conceived by the U.S., a co-founder of the agency in 1946, was to be an anti-extremist organization. In today’s world, it tackles foreign policy issues such as access to clean water, teaches girls to read, works to eradicate poverty, promotes freedom of expression, and gives people creative thinking skills to resist violent extremism.

Among UNESCO programs already slashed over funding shortages is one in Iraq that was intended to help restore water facilities. In danger is a Holocaust and genocide awareness program in Africa to teach about non-violence, non-discrimination and ethnic tolerance, using the example of the mass killing of Jews during World War II.

This loss is a particular blow to the U.S., since Holocaust awareness was one of the areas the country aggressively promoted in the agency’s agenda when it rejoined in 2002 after an 18-year hiatus, during which the U.S. had withdrawn from UNESCO over differences in vision.

Some U.S. legislators also are concerned. “The United States must not voluntarily forfeit its leadership in the world community,” Rep. Keith Ellison, a Democrat from Minnesota, told the AP in an email.

With efforts by Obama to get the money restored having failed or stalled, Ellison plans to introduce legislation in Congress to overturn what he calls the “antiquated” laws that automatically halted the flow of funds to the agency from November 2011.

The Obama administration has proposed language to amend the legislation, but it remains on the table amid recent U.S. budget setbacks. For some it’s a question of sooner rather than later, with the U.S. racking up arrears to UNESCO of some $220,000 a day, which it will have to pay back if it ever wants to fill the empty chair and get back the vote.

“Paying off three years is manageable, but it indeed becomes much more difficult if you allow many years to pass and the bill gets larger and larger and larger,” said Esther Brimmer, former U.S. assistant secretary of state for international organizations.

The Palestinian ambassador to UNESCO, Elias Sanbar, said other countries are beginning to make up for the U.S. shortfall. “Is this in the interest of the U.S., to be replaced?” he asked. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova lamented the changes that are not only seeing America silenced within her organization but also bringing UNESCO financially to its knees.

“I regret to say that I’m seeing, in these last two years … a declining American influence and American involvement,” Bokova said in an interview. “I can’t imagine how we could disengage with the United States at UNESCO. We are so intertwined with our message. What I regret is that this decision became so divisive and triggered this suspension of the funding,” she added.

Bokova said she accepts political reality and will find ways for UNESCO to continue its work, despite a 2014 budget that’s down by an estimated $150 million. Some fear this debacle will have more serious consequences, if Palestine joins other more strategically important international agencies such as the World Health Organization.

UN votes to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons

September 28, 2013

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Friday night to secure and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, a landmark decision aimed at taking poison gas off the battlefield in the escalating 2 1/2-year conflict.

The vote after two weeks of intense negotiations marked a major breakthrough in the paralysis that has gripped the council since the Syrian uprising began. Russia and China previously vetoed three Western-backed resolutions pressuring President Bashar Assad’s regime to end the violence.

“Today’s historic resolution is the first hopeful news on Syria in a long time,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the council immediately after the vote, but he and others stressed that much more needs to be done to stop the fighting that has left more 100,000 dead.

“A red light for one form of weapons does not mean a green light for others,” the U.N. chief said. “This is not a license to kill with conventional weapons.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the “strong, enforceable, precedent-setting” resolution shows that diplomacy can be so powerful “that it can peacefully defuse the worst weapons of war.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that the resolution does not automatically impose sanctions on Syria. The resolution calls for consequences if Syria fails to comply, but those will depend on the council passing another resolution in the event of non-compliance. That will give Assad ally Russia the means to stop any punishment from being imposed.

As a sign of the broad support for the resolution, all 15 council members signed on as co-sponsors. For the first time, the council endorsed the roadmap for a political transition in Syria adopted by key nations in June 2012 and called for an international conference to be convened “as soon as possible” to implement it.

Ban said the target date for a new peace conference in Geneva is mid-November. Whether the council can remain united to press for an end to the conflict remains to be seen. “We know despite its clear usefulness, one resolution alone will not save Syria,” France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said after the vote.

Syria’s U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari accused unnamed nations of already giving the resolution a negative interpretation and trying to “derail it from its lofty purposes.” And Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who have been harshly critical of Obama’s policy on Syria, dismissed the resolution as “another triumph of hope over reality.” It “contains no meaningful or immediate enforcement mechanisms, let alone a threat of the use of force for the Assad regime’s non-compliance,” they said in a statement that was highly skeptical that Russia would ever approve a threat of force for non-compliance.

The vote came just hours after the world’s chemical weapons watchdog adopted a U.S.-Russian plan that lays out benchmarks and timelines for cataloging, quarantining and ultimately destroying Syria’s chemical weapons, their precursors and delivery systems.

The Security Council resolution enshrines the plan approved by Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, making it legally binding. The agreement allows the start of a mission to rid Syria’s regime of its estimated 1,000-ton chemical arsenal by mid-2014, significantly accelerating a destruction timetable that often takes years to complete.

Kerry said the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile will begin in November and be completed as called for by the middle of next year. “We expect to have an advance team on the ground (in Syria) next week,” OPCW spokesman Michael Luhan told reporters at the organization’s headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands immediately after its 41-member executive council approved the plan.

The OPCW plan gives Damascus a week to provide detailed information on its arsenal, including the name and quantity of all chemicals in its stockpile; the type and quantity of munitions that can be used to fire chemical weapons; and the location of weapons, storage facilities and production facilities. All chemical weapons production and mixing equipment should be destroyed no later than Nov. 1.

The Security Council resolution does not assign blame for any chemical attack. Some Western countries had wanted the draft to demand that the perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks be referred to the International Criminal Court to be prosecuted for war crimes. Diplomats said this was discussed, but Russia objected.

As a result, the draft says only that the Security Council “expresses its strong conviction that those individuals responsible for the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic should be held accountable.”

The recent flurry of diplomatic activity followed the Aug. 21 poison gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians in a Damascus suburb, and by President Barack Obama’s threat of U.S. strikes in retaliation.

After Kerry said Assad could avert U.S. military action by turning over “every single bit of his chemical weapons” to international control within a week, Russia quickly agreed. Kerry and Lavrov signed an agreement in Geneva on Sept. 13 to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control for later destruction, and Assad’s government accepted.

Tough negotiations, primarily between Russia and the United States, followed on how Syria’s stockpile would be destroyed. The U.N. resolution’s adoption was assured when the five veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council — Russia, China, the United States, France and Britain — signed off on the text on Thursday.

Russia and the United States had been at odds over the enforcement issue. Russia opposed any reference to Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which allows for military and nonmilitary actions to promote peace and security.

The final resolution states that the Security Council will impose measures under Chapter 7 if Syria fails to comply, but this would require adoption of a second resolution. It bans Syria from possessing chemical weapons and condemns “in the strongest terms” the use of chemical weapons in the Aug. 21 attack, and any other use. It also would ban any country from obtaining chemical weapons or the technology or equipment to produce them from Syria.

Kerry stressed that the resolution for the first time makes a determination that “use of chemical weapons anywhere constitutes a threat to international peace and security,” which sets a new international norm.

The resolution authorizes the U.N. to send an advance team to assist the OPCW’s activities in Syria. It asks Secretary-General Ban to submit recommendations to the Security Council within 10 days of the resolution’s adoption on the U.N. role in eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons program.

“Syria cannot select or reject the inspectors,” Kerry said. “Syria must give those inspectors unfettered access to any and all sites and any and all people.” The resolution requires the council to review compliance with the OPCW’s plans within 30 days, and every month after that.

In an indication of the enormity of the task ahead, the OPCW appealed for donations to fund the disarmament, saying it will have to hire new weapons inspectors and chemical experts. To that end, Britain’s foreign minister announced after Friday’s vote that the UK would donate $3 million to OPCW Syria Trust fund.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the Security Council that China was also prepared to help fund the disarmament mission. Meanwhile, a group of U.N. inspectors already in Syria investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons said Friday they are probing a total of seven suspected attacks, including in the Damascus suburb where hundreds were killed last month. That number was raised from three sites previously.

The OPCW destruction plan calls on Syria to give inspectors unfettered access to any site suspected of chemical weapons involvement, even if Syria’s government did not identify the location. That gives the inspectors unusually broad authority.

Associated Press writers Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, Toby Sterling in Amsterdam, Amir Bibawy at the United Nations and Albert Aji in Damascus contributed to this report.

Syrian refugees land in Italy

(By Emily Backus) (ANSA) – Rome, August 26 – More Syrian refugees landed on Italian shores over the weekend in a humanitarian crisis that appears to be spilling even into Europe’s lap.

Ninety-eight refugees from Syria on Saturday were intercepted by a patrol of Frontex, the European agency for cooperation and management of EU borders. They were aboard a ship at sea about 40 miles south of the Sicilian coastal town of Porto Palo. Twenty-five children and eight women were aboard. The Syrian refugees were among hundreds this weekend alone from distressed countries – Tunisia, Eritrea and Somalia – who risked their lives in dodgy vessels to be rescued near or found on Italian shores. Syrians have featured all summer long among migrants daring the sea from various parts of the Middle East and Africa, who are generally placed by Italian authorities in migrant detention centers for identification, processing, and possible expulsion. On a visit to the migrant island of Lampedusa last month, Pope Francis asked God to forgive European policy makers’ indifference while hailing immigrants’ efforts to seek better lives.

He also asked to mourn the many lives lost at sea.

Last week the UNHCR and UNICEF in Geneva said one million children have fled fighting in Syria, about three quarters of whom are under age 11. In the words of UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, the survival and well-being of an entire generation of innocent children is at stake.

“The youth of Syria are losing their homes, their family members and their futures.

Even after they have crossed a border to safety, they are traumatized, depressed and in need of a reason for hope,” he added. Children account for over half of the two million refugees who have fled Syria to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

Syrians are arriving in North Africa and, embarking across the sea to Europe ever more often.

The price paid by Syrian children in the conflict – now in its third year – is enormous.

In addition to the one million child refugees, there are some two million displaced children in Syria. The UN estimates that at least 7,000 children have been killed in the conflict, while child refugees are often exposed to threats such as forced labor, early marriage and sexual exploitation.

Source: La Gazzeta.