Draft resolution calls for al-Assad to step down

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad faces a possible U.N. Security Council resolution asking him to step down.

Story highlights

  • Draft resolution calls on al-Assad to step down, transfer power to vice president
  • It also calls for formation of a national unity government
  • Draft gives Syria 15 days to comply or risk further measures
The U.N. Security Council discussed Friday a resolution introduced by Morocco that calls on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down and transfer power to his vice president.
The resolution also supports "full implementation" of the Arab League report on Syria that called on Syria to form a unity government within two months but stopped short of supporting military intervention. The Arab League report was released about a month after it sent observers into Syria.
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Araby and Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, are expected to brief the council Tuesday about the observer mission's findings. When asked whether that briefing would lead to a vote next week, France's U.N. Envoy Gerard Araud responded with just one word: "Inshallah," or "God willing" in Arabic.
British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said a vote could be held as soon as Wednesday on the text. "It was quite clear that there was very strong support in the Security Council this afternoon for the text that was introduced by Morocco."
The next step is a meeting of experts from the missions of the 15 countries on the Security Council, on Monday afternoon.
The Security Council has been unable to agree on any resolution on Syria. In October, Russia and China issued a rare double-veto of a resolution that lacked sanctions but would have condemned the violence in Syria. This latest draft also lacks sanctions, but is tougher than the October version, which said nothing about transfer of power.
The draft resolution, obtained by CNN, calls on al-Assad to hand over authority to his deputy and calls for the formation of a national unity government.
The draft gives Syria 15 days to comply or risk the adoption of further measures.
Advocates of a resolution -- especially Britain, France, and Germany -- hope that a stark briefing from the Arab League will be enough to persuade Russia not to use its veto power.
After Friday's meeting, Russian U.N. Envoy Vitaly Churkin said, "I just cannot see the draft which we saw today as a basis of a possible outcome. But we will continue to engage with the sponsors of this resolution."
He said there were some red lines that he would not allow the Security Council to cross.
"The red lines include any indication of sanctions," he said. "The red lines included any sort of imposition of arms embargo, because we know how in real life, arms embargo means that you supply weapons to illegal groups but you cannot supply weapons to the government. We cannot accept that. Unfortunately the draft which we saw today did not ignore our red lines but also added some new elements which we find unacceptable as a matter of principle."
He went on to say that those added things included the idea of imposing a political outcome.
This week, the Russian ambassador to the United States accused the United States and Europe of trying to turn a Security Council resolution on Syria into an "anti-al-Assad" resolution, a step that, he argued, could "be a recipe for disaster."
Araud was sanguine: "Frankly, I don't think it will be too difficult to reach an agreement," he told reporters.
And German Ambassador Peter Wittig said world body must take action. "Let's seize this window of opportunity that we have."
But Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari was dismissive of his colleagues. "Some of these ambassadors who have been entrusted by the so-called international community to maintain peace and security in the world through their important role in the Security Council have chosen to undermine peace and security in the world -- following their narrow strategic and geopolitical interests," he said.
"They deal with us as if we are a former colony -- that we should subjugate ourselves to their will. They are wrong and they will be disappointed."
He continued, "Syria will not be Libya; Syria will not be Iraq; Syria will not be Somalia; Syria will not be a failing state."