Syria Hails UN Seat as ‘Victory’ over Israel, Terror Charges
Syria on Tuesday celebrated its election to the UN Security Council as a double triumph: a diplomatic coup over Israel and an exoneration of charges against Damascus of support for terrorism.
President Bashar al-Assad said his country would "do its best to serve Arab and Islamic causes, and just causes in the world", the official SANA news agency reported.
Diplomats said Syria's seat in the Security Council would enable Damascus to turn world attention, which has been focused on the Arab and Muslim worlds ever since last month's anti-US terror attacks, more toward the Jewish state.
"Syria has scored a great diplomatic and political victory. The election to the Security Council was the result of its wise and intelligent policies," the ruling Baath party said in its newspaper of the same name.
"Israel tried to prevent Syria winning a Council seat" with charges that Damascus supports terrorism "but the international community has thrown out the accusations," said Al-Baath.
It said the vote also proved "the just position of Syria which backs the fight against terrorism without confusing this phenomenon with resistance against occupation."
For the first time in more than 30 years, Syria, a country listed by Washington as a state sponsor of terrorism, was elected Monday to the Security Council as a non-permanent member for a two-year term starting in January.
Syria was elected in a secret ballot by 160 members of the 189-vote UN General Assembly.
In Israel, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon condemned Syria's success as "a bad joke", especially coming at a time when the international community has declared war on terrorism.
"The worst thing is that the international community hasn't even asked as a condition of entry that Syria clamp down on the headquarters of the (Palestinian radical) organizations" based in Damascus, added Gissin.
Damascus denies Israel's terrorism accusations, maintaining that the Palestinian organizations Hamas and Islamic Jihad which it backs as well as Lebanon's Hizbollah are only "resisting" Israeli occupation.
An official Syrian spokesman said after the vote that Damascus would "cooperate for peace with member countries of the Security Council and other states."
In a line to be hammered home within the Security Council, the government daily Tishrin said "Syria, like the other Arab and Islamic states, deems any anti-terrorist political or military action useless if Israel is not targeted."
A Western diplomat posted in Damascus said the Security Council seat would have a number of positive repercussions for Syria.
"Syria now represents the Arab world and, to a certain respect, the Islamic world in the Security Council. It has thus become the interlocutor of the major powers," he said.
"And given that the Council likes to take decisions unanimously, the powers will have to listen to Syria's point of view on the difference between terrorism and resistance."
The diplomat also said Syria would serve as an obstacle to any attempted Security Council resolution to target radical anti-Israeli groups as part of the fight against terrorism -- DAMASCUS (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)