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Amid Talk of Bombing Syria Without Assad, SNC Cites Psaki, UNSC Ignored

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 25 -- Starting from the beheading of US journalist James Foley, talk has turned to a wider campaign against ISIL, beyond Iraq into Syria.

   Even seeking UN Security Council approval is barely discussed. The Assad government, the US has insisted, would not be consulted. Precedent? What precedent?

  On August 27 the Syrian Coalition issued a statement that

"Mohammed Qaddah, Vice President of the Syrian Coalition, renews calls to make amendments to the UN Security Council No 2170 and include the Assad regime and Hezbollah in the list of terrorist organizations that threaten the region. 'By taking this step the international community will be on the right track in the fight against organized terrorism which is sweeping the region.”'Qaddah stresses that the problem is not in waiting for the regime’s consent to target ISIS positions in Syria, but with the decision itself as it excludes the Assad regime and Hezbollah militia from its list of targets,” commenting on remarks made by US Foreign Ministry spokeswoman who said that 'when it comes to preserving our interests we will not wait for the approval of the Assad regime to allow airstrikes against ISIS in Syria.' (Source: Syrian Coalition)"

  The "US Foreign Ministry spokeswoman" referred to by the Syrian Coalition is Jen Psaki. The thinking seems to be, if the US can ignore the realities in the UN Security Council, why not the Syrian Coalition? We'll see.

   Syria's foreign minister Walid al-Moallem has expressed a willingness to fight ISIL -- which just took over the government air base at Al Taqaba -- but pointedly said that any airstrikes on ISIL in Syria would require approval from the government or be considered an intervention.

 The US Statement Department's spokesperson on August 25 said that if Americans are at risk, the US won't be looking for the approval of Assad. One wondered, would the US look for the approval of the UN Security Council?

   On August 25 from Turkey -- to which only a US charge d'affaires Jess L. Baily will be sent for Recep Tayyip Erdogan's August 28 inauguration -- the Syrian Coalition issued with:

"Nasr al-Hariri, Secretary General of the Syrian Coalition, said that ISIS’s takeover of the Tabaqa Air Base in eastern Syrian comes within a series of the Assad regime's systematic handover of its positions in eastern Syria to ISIS. 'The Assad regime is seeking through this tactic to win the sympathy of the international community and to give the impression that it is a target for terrorism. Moreover, Assad’s scarifying of 650 soldiers who were left to die in the air base while sending helicopters to evacuate the officers clearly shows that Assad’s sole concern is not the safety of his soldiers but the survival of his regime. It also proves that Assad is ready to sacrifice his own soldiers in return for achieving political ends.'

"Hariri described the remarks made today by the Assad regime’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem as 'an attempt to politically rehabilitate the Assad regime through announcing its readiness to be part of an international coalition to fight ISIS, which was allowed to grow and fester by the Assad regime itself. The loophole in the UN Security Council resolution No. 2170, which excluded pro-Assad militias from the terrorism list, has emboldened Assad to unabashedly declare himself as a partner in the fight against terrorism. Therefore, the international community should realize that stemming the tide of extremism in the region requires a political process in parallel with military action, and that the root of the problem can be tackled only when the circumstances that led to the surge of terrorism are eliminated. It has been proven time and again that the Assad regime’s militarization of the popular uprising has created a vacuum that was exploited by extremists, and created the ideal environment for ISIS to grow and expand. We are confident that the Assad regime’s incessant imploration to be a partner in the fight against terrorism will not succeed in winning over the international community’s tolerance of its wholesale crimes against the Syrian people. The Assad regime is undoubtedly the root problem of terrorism and cannot be part of the solution. More importantly, the decision to fight the terrorism of the Assad regime and ISIS must before everything else take Syria’s national interests into account, and it is a decision that Syrians have long made without waiting for instructions from the international community or the friendly countries.'"

 Only the day before on August 24, the Syrian Coalition pronounced that "James Foley was Victim of the Failure to Empower Syrian Rebels."

  Meanwhile on CNN's Sunday morning talk show State of the Union on August 24, host Candy Crowley badgered UK Ambassador to the UN Peter Westmacott, when will the UK use its planes? When will they arm the "Free Syrian Army" as Francois Hollande has bragged France has already done?

  Westmacott said that Iraq and the KRG haven't yet asked the UK for airstrikes; he said the UK will NOT provide lethal aid to the FSA, in light of ISIL's recapture of others' weapons.

  Did France not consider this? And doesn't Hollande bragging about providing weapons to rebels in Syria undercut his legal argument about arms going into Ukraine?  (On which, see this.)

Footnote: Agence France Presse, purporting an info-graphic of journalists killed last year, listed four as killed "in Gaza." Since all other listed jurisdiction are full UN member states, some surmised AFP's nomenclature let off the hook the killer of those journalists. Despite calling it social media, days later AFP has not responded.


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