UN to vote on Syria resolution to back political transition
A draft resolution that condemns Syrian authorities and accepts the opposition Syrian National Coalition as party to a potential political transition is set to be voted on at the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday.
The vote comes as Britain and France delayed a Syrian request for Islamist al-Nusra Front to be designated by the United Nations as a terrorist group.
The European countries said they want the militants to instead be listed as an alias of al-Qaeda, diplomats said on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the 193 U.N. member states are set to vote on the draft resolution, which some Western diplomats said was unlikely to win as many votes as a resolution that passed last year with 133 in favor.
Russia, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is opposed to the resolution, which was drafted by Qatar and other Arab nations.
“I’m convinced a lot of countries voted for this text because they believed they were voting for the winning side,” a senior western U.N. diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters news agency in reference to the August, 2012 resolution.” They are not so sure anymore.”
“Now also you have the Islamist, terrorist factor which is much more conspicuous,” he said.
No country has a veto in the General Assembly.
The Syrian conflict started more than two years ago with mainly peaceful demonstrations against Assad, but turned into a civil war in which the United Nations says at least 70,000people have been killed. Islamist militants have emerged as the most potent of the anti-Assad rebels.
Wednesday’s vote comes as Washington and European governments have been mulling the benefits and risks of supplying arms to Syrian rebels.
Another senior U.N. diplomat, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said this draft resolution was stronger than the earlier resolution, prompting Russia to write to all states to complain that it was unbalanced. The diplomat said Russia had also warned that it could hinder preparations for a Syria peace conference, as agreed by Russia and the United States.