DAMASKUS (19.04.2012): FN-observatørerne er begyndt at ankomme til Damaskus. Nogle aviser og medier kalder dem fejlagtigt for en ”fredsbevarende styrke”. Det er forkert. Der er ikke nogen fred at bevare. Det eneste FN-soldaterne kan, når styrken på et eller andet tidspunkt er ankommet, er at observere, om våbenhvilen – og det er noget helt andet end fred – bliver overholdt.
Det behøver vi sådant set ikke en FN-observatørmission til at fortælle os. Svaret kender vi allerede. Våbenhvilen bliver ikke overholdt. Den er blevet brudt lige siden det tidspunkt for snart to uger siden, hvor den trådte i kraft. Der er ganske enkelt ikke nogen våbenhvile at observere.
Der er heller ikke nogen observatør-mission endnu.
Kun en fortrop, som skal forberede resten af styrkens ankomst, klare det logistiske og rydde de sidste bureaukratiske forhindringer af vejen. Af hensyn til medierne har disse få FN-soldater med blå baretter dog alligevel været ude i felten for at ”vise flaget”, og få det til at se ud som om FN allerede er rykket ind. Men det er ikke tilfældet. Og det er sikkert også en uheldig politik, at begynde at ”observere”, når man slet ikke er i stand til at leve op til selv den begrænsede opgave endnu.
FN-missionen har virkeligheden imod sig.
FN-styrken har et svagt mandat, der efter alt at dømme vil gøre det vanskeligt for observatørerne til at leve op til nogens forventninger. Så vi kan næsten allerede nu forudse, at missionen – når den på et eller andet tidspunkt kommer i gang – vil blive kritiseret fra alle sider. Formentlig vil den blive endnu en skuffelse, og kampene vil fortsætte på trods af FNs tilstedeværelse.
Samtidig vil en række lande, formentlig i utilfredshed handle udenom missionen, hvis arbejde dermed vil blive ydreligere undergravet.
USA, Frankrig og andre presser på diplomatisk for at stramme straffesanktionerne imod regimet i Damaskus. Tyrkiet taler også hele tiden og at ville gå længere, selvom ingen endnu ved, hvad det i praksis betyder. Nogen tror, at Tyrkiet er ved at lægge op til etableringen af en "sikker humanitær zone" op mod den tyrkiske grænse, men ingen ved det med sikkerhed. Saudiarabien og Qatar vil forsyne oprørerne med våben, penge og udrustning.
Der er næppe heller nogen tvivl om, at yderligtgående islamistiske grupper - fra militante salafister til forskellige former for Al Qaeda-kloner - vil forsøge at udnytte krisen til at "mele sin egen kage", hvilket blot vil svække oprøret i bredere forstand, og ende med at bekræfte Bashar al-Assads påstand om at oprørerne i virkeligheden er kriminelle og islamistiske terrorister.
De eneste der ser en masse fordele ved FN-missionen synes at være de syriske myndigheder, som hilser missionen velkommen, men samtidig forsinker den med alle mulige bureaukratiske og diplomatiske manøvrer. For Assad-regimet er FN-missionen en velkommen mulighed for at vinde tid, og undervejs håber de så, at der nok skal opstå nogle situationer, hvor regimet kan bruge missionens observationer til at stemple oprørerne som det voldeligt afskum, de fra starten har forsøgt at betegne dem som.
REGIMETS ”RØDE LINJER”
Det syriske regime har ifølge kilder i FN gjort det klart, at det har tre “røde linjer”, som ikke kan overskrides – tre krav, som ikke er til forhandling:
For det første vil Syrien ikke acceptere nogen FN-observatører fra de arabiske Golfstater, fra Tyrkiet eller Jordan.
For det andet går Damaskus heller ikke med til at FN-observatørerne skal kunne bruge FN-helikoptere i syrisk luftrum.
Og for det tredje vil regimet ikke acceptere, at FN-folkene får en række bygninger rundt om i kriseområderne som Homs, Hama, Idlib, Dera’a og lignende, hvorfra observatørerne kan observere, bo i og operere fra.
De syriske myndigheder kræver, at alle FN-observatører skal være stationeret i Damaskus og køre ud herfra. Og disse udflugter skal være forhåndsgodkendt af og ske i koordination med myndighederne, hvilket formentlig også betyder, at observatørerne – som det var tilfældet med Den arabiske Ligas observatører – kun får lov til at færdes rundt med ledsagere fra regimet.
Altså ingen pludselige overraskelsesbesøg til dele af slagmarken, hvor myndighederne ikke er forberedt på forhånd.
Det er ret klart, at nogle af disse krav må være ret svære for FN at sluge. Det giver ikke megen mening at observere en konflikt, hvis den ene part hele tiden på forhånd bliver advaret om, hvor der inspiceres, og derfor kan sikre, at dens tropper gør sig midlertidig usynlige.
Manglen på helikoptere vil også være et problem.
Udover at det forhindrer observatørerne i at overvåge meget store områder fra luften, så betyder det også, at der er grænser for, hvor meget missionen kan overkomme i det store land. For hvis FN med bare 250-300 observatører skal kunne overvåge, hvad der sker i et land med 23 millioner indbyggere, som tillige er mere end fire gange så stort som Danmark, så bliver det nødvendigt at kunne transportere observatørerne rundt ad luftvejen.
Regionale hovedkvarterer med fast bemanding i nogle af de kendte konfliktområder kunne til en vis grad afhjælpe dette, men det vil Assad-regimet altså heller ikke gå med til.
Disse problemer betyder efter alt at dømme, at der stadigvæk forestår mange, lange og træge forhandlinger, inden en tilfredsstillende og velfungerende observatørmission kan komme i gang. Der er næppe nogen tvivl om, at disse forsinkelser ikke er det mindste problem for de syriske myndigheder, som ikke har noget hastværk. Mange iagttagere siger lige ud, at selve accepten af Kofi Annans sekspunktsplan alligevel kun har til formål at trække tiden ud.
Når en væbnet konflikt skal bilægges er det altid en fordel af have udefrakommende, neutrale observatører til at overvåge, at begge sider faktisk lever op til deres del af aftalerne. Men i Syrien var der ikke noget observatørkorps klart, da våbenhvilen blev indgået og heller ikke, da den trådte i kraft. Resultatet har været, at begge sider fra allerførste færd har overtrådt aftalen. Det er et meget dårligt udgangspunkt for observatørmissionen, for det betyder, at en magisk tærskel allerede nu er overtrådt så mange gange, at ingen har den mindste respekt for våbenhvilen, og begge sider tror, at de kan slippe af sted med at beskylde modparten for bruddet og ikke selv tage ansvar for noget som helst.
Desuden er der her i Syrien ikke tale om to regulære hære fra to krigende nationer, der står overfor hinanden langs en front, der nu er blevet klassificeret som en våbenhvilelinje, og som derefter skal overvåges af observatørerne. I Syrien er der ikke nogen frontlinje. Slagmarken er overalt og ingen steder. Den ene part kan ikke umiddelbart ses eller identificeres, mens den anden kan.
På den måde er en observatør-mission i den syriske borgerkrig allerede en meget kompliceret opgave til at begynde med. Når besværlighederne så gøres endnu værre ved at styrken bliver meget lille, ikke særlig mobil, bundet til hovedstaden og tvunget til at operere i samarbejde med den ene af konfliktens parter, så bliver det endnu sværere at få noget til at lykkes, så det kommer det så sikkert heller ikke til.
FN IKKE VERDENS OVERDOMMER
Jeg er ved at være en gammel mand. Så gammel at jeg voksede op med danske folkekomedier som ”Soldaterkammerater”. En af disse film hed ”Soldaterkammerater på vagt” fra 1960, hvor de populære og godmodige danske soldater var FN-observatører i området mellem Israel og Egypten. De sikrede freden. Og vi troede på det.
Der var stor respekt om FN den gang. De forenede Nationer var noget stort. Super-nationalt. En verdensorganisation. En slags international overdommer, og når den sagde noget, så lyttede landene velopdragent efter. (Sikkert kun noget jeg troede på, fordi jeg kun var et barn). Men sådan er det i hvert fald ikke længere.
FN er som oftest kun et absurd teater. En sørgelig refleksion af den bedrøvelige tilstand, verden befinder sig i. Derfor fungerer FN aldrig bedre end det, verdens lande kan enes om. Og i den sammenhæng er det nok værd at huske på, at de fleste af verdens lande langtfra er frie og demokratiske. Listen over dårligt og til tider endog katastrofalt dårligt gennemførte FN-missioner er rystende lang. Verdensorganisationen med alle dens fejl virker kun, når verdens stormagter tilfældigvis har sammenfaldende interesser, og når de stridende parter i en konflikt ønsker hjælp udefra. Ingen af delene er tilfældet nu.
Derfor er der ingen grund til optimisme, fordi FN’s blå baretter nu er ved at ankomme til Syrien. I værste fald kommer missionen til at tjene de forkerte interesser. I bedste fald kan man blot håbe på, at FN’s tilstedeværelse ikke gør ondt værre.
Herunder kan du læse nogle af de seneste dages telegrammer fra nyhedsbureauet Reuters om situationen i Syrien og udstationeringen af FN-observatørmissionen:
UN council schedules Saturday vote on Syria monitors
Council to vote on compromise Russian-European draft. US says wants truly independent monitoring in Syria.
By Louis Charbonneau and Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS, April 20 (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council has scheduled a vote on a draft resolution on Saturday to authorize the deployment to Syria of up to 300 unarmed military observers, despite U.S. and European concerns that
Damascus has yet to fully implement a ceasefire.
The United Nations announced on Friday the 15-nation council planned to hold the vote at 11:00 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT). It will be considering a compromise resolution that combines Russian and European drafts.
Council envoys reached a preliminary agreement on a draft resolution on the Syrian conflict, a crisis that has left the council divided since it erupted 13 months ago. But there was a possibility the deal could fall through since council members must seek final approval from their capitals overnight.
"It's possible not everybody will have instructions at that point (11:00 a.m.)," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, president of the Security Council this month, told reporters. "It's possible there will not be an agreed text at that point, we'll see, and we'll regroup accordingly."
Britain, France and Russia would also like a deal.
"I hope there's going to be a unanimous vote tomorrow," said Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin. "The Syrian government and the opposition must know that the Security Council will be authorizing the full-fledged mandate so we hope it's going to send a strong and good political signal."
There are seven monitors already in Syria from Morocco, Brazil, Belgium, Switzerland and Norway after the council authorized an advance team of up to 30 on Saturday. A new resolution is needed for a further "initial deployment" of up to 300 as recommended by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Some council members have expressed reluctance to give swift approval for an expanded observer mission because of concern about the failure of the Syrian government to halt the violence, return troops to barracks and withdraw heavy weapons.
At least 23 people were killed on Friday, 10 of them by a roadside bomb targeting security forces and most of the others in shelling by President Bashar al-Assad's forces on the city of Homs, further undermining the truce.
The draft resolution calls for authorizing the deployment of 300 unarmed observers for an initial three-month period and urges Syria to implement its pledges under a six-point plan drawn up by U.N.-Arab League mediator Kofi Annan.
DRAFT WARNS OF 'FURTHER STEPS'
The United States and European countries have insisted that Syria must accept the use of U.N. planes and helicopters by the U.N. mission, which will be called UNSMIS.
The Russian draft resolution did not mention air assets and was less critical of Syria's government than the European text. The compromise draft urges Syria to reach an agreement with the U.N. on "appropriate air transportation assets" and condemns the government for "widespread violations of human rights."
Syria has dismissed any need for U.N. aircraft. The U.N.'s Ban has said helicopters and other military hardware would be needed by the monitors.
The European draft had threatened Syria with sanctions if it did not end violence by Syrian troops. The Russian draft did not include the threat of sanctions.
The compromise draft, also obtained by Reuters, warns Syria of possible "further steps" if it does not comply with the resolution. It does not specify what those steps would be.
It calls for Ban to report back to the council on Syria's compliance within 15 days.
Moscow has accused the United States and Europe of tricking it into using a U.N. mandate to protect civilians in Libya to enable NATO to engage in "regime change." Syria's ally Russia, along with China, support Assad and have twice vetoed council resolutions condemning has assault on pro-democracy protesters.
But last week Russia and China joined the rest of the council in voting for a resolution to authorize the deployment of the first batch of U.N. monitors.
The United States has voiced concern over approving an expanded U.N. mission before Assad fully complies with demands to halt the violence and pull back troops and heavy weapons.
"We want to see monitors be able to get in. But they've got to be able to do so in the permissive conditions," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters on Friday, saying the United States had "extreme concerns" about the continued violence.
"It's got to be a true independent international monitoring effort ... and not regime-controlled," she said.
Annan's peace plan calls for an end to fighting by government security forces and rebels, withdrawal of heavy weapons from towns, the return of the army to barracks, humanitarian access and dialogue between the government and opposition aimed at a "political transition."
Syria yet to send "clear signal" on peace-UN chief
Ban says Damascus not giving "clear signal" on peace. Proposes expanded observer mission. Shooting close to U.N. observers near Damascus on Wednesday. "Friends of Syria" ministers to meet in Paris on Thursday.
By Louis Charbonneau and Douglas Hamilton
UNITED NATIONS/BEIRUT, April 19 (Reuters) - Syria has not fully withdrawn troops and heavy weapons from towns, so far failing to send a "clear signal" about its commitment to peace, the U.N. chief said, underlining Western fears over the prospects for a week-old truce.
In the first progress report since the Security Council passed a resolution on Saturday authorising the deployment of observers, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon proposed an expanded mission of 300 personnel to monitor a shaky ceasefire between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and opposition
The report will be crucial in determining whether conditions are right for deploying the mission at a Security Council meeting on Thursday, a day after an advance group of observers were swarmed by protesters against Assad's 12-year rule.
The scenes of U.N. vehicles being stuck in crowds and men running away to the sound of gunfire in the outskirts of the capital Damascus, were an echo of an earlier monitoring mission by the Arab League, which collapsed in January.
"The Syrian government has yet to fully implement its initial obligations regarding the actions and deployments of its troops, or to return them to barracks," Ban told the Security Council in a letter obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.
"Violent incidents and reports of casualties have escalated again in recent days, with reports of shelling of civilian areas
and abuses by government forces," he said. "The government reports violent actions by armed groups."
While the truce worked out with international envoy Kofi Annan has held in some parts of Syria, in strong opposition areas such as Homs, Hama, Idlib and Deraa the army has kept up attacks on rebels.
Syria pledged that it would cease using heavy weapons against what it calls foreign-backed terrorists, who have killed 2,500 soldiers and police. The ceasefire officially came into force last Thursday.
Damascus has challenged Ban over the size and scope of the mission, dismissing his efforts to increase the number of observers and secure European help in supplying planes and helicopters as unnecessary.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Wednesday 250 people was a "reasonable number", adding they should be from countries such as China, Russia, Brazil, India and South Africa - all more sympathetic to Damascus than the West or the Arab League. He also dismissed any need for U.N. aircraft.
In the report, Ban expressed some hope that there may be a chance for progress on ending the 13-month conflict.
He said the advance team had visited the town of Deraa and "enjoyed freedom of movement", but its initial request to visit Homs, a centre of the uprising against Assad, had been refused.
"At the same time the very fragility of the situation underscores the importance of putting in place arrangements that can allow impartial supervision and monitoring," he said.
On Wednesday, Syria's army kept up its shelling of targets in Homs in violation of the ceasefire deal. Explosions shook the Khalidiyah quarter and plumes of black smoke drifted over the rooftops.
To the north, in Idlib province, six members of the security forces were killed by a bomb placed by an "armed terrorist group", the state news agency SANA said. It was the second such attack in two days. Syria bars access to most independent journalists, making it hard to verify accounts of the conflict.
"We are at a crucial turning point," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a meeting of NATO ministers in Brussels.
"Either we succeed with ... the Annan plan with the help of monitors ... or Assad will squander his last chance before additional measures have to be considered."
Clinton will join Arab and European foreign ministers from the informal Friends of Syria group in Paris on Thursday.
"We will continue to increase the pressure on Assad," she said, adding that she had spoken to counterparts about the need to "tighten sanctions, tighten pressure on the regime, on those who support the regime".
The United States and European Union already have extensive economic sanctions on Syria. But the Arab League, which announced a package of financial sanctions against Damascus in November, has done little to enforce the proposals.
Two previous Friends of Syria meetings, in Tunisia and Turkey, produced more rhetoric than results and it was not clear what Thursday's smaller gathering in France might deliver.
Clinton, as she has in the past, appeared to leave the door open to other nations arming Syrian rebels - something the United States has itself rejected although it is giving the opposition communications and logistical assistance.
Washington and its Western allies have shown no desire to intervene militarily or push for the sort of robust peacekeeping force in Syria that might require 50,000 troops or more.
The Syria mission was negotiated by Annan, a former U.N. secretary-general now acting as an envoy of the United Nations and Arab League. Diplomats say Annan's main aim is to get a U.N. mission on the ground backed by Syria's supporters Russia and China, even if it is not big enough at first to do the job.
UN chief: Syria hasn't fully complied with Annan peace plan
Ban: There may now be chance for progress towards peace. Ban proposes force of up to 300 unarmed truce monitors. UN mission in Syria would be called UNSMIS.
By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS, April 18 (Reuters) - Syria has not fully complied with a U.N.-backed peace plan for the country and has yet to send a "clear signal" about its commitment to ending more than a year of violence, the U.N. chief told the Security Council in a letter obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.
At the same time, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced hope that there may be a chance for progress on ending a 13-month conflict that has brought Syria to the brink of civil war.
Ban proposed an expanded U.N. monitoring mission, which, if approved by the council, would be comprised of "an initial deployment" of up to 300 unarmed observers to supervise a fragile week-old ceasefire between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and opposition fighters seeking to oust him.
But he cautioned that the fighting had not ended.
"The Syrian Government has yet to fully implement its initial obligations regarding the actions and deployments of its troops, or to return them to barracks," he said in a preliminary assessment of Syria's compliance with a resolution on Syria the Security Council passed on Saturday.
"Violent incidents and reports of casualties have escalated again in recent days, with reports of shelling of civilian areas and abuses by Government forces," he said. "The Government reports violent actions by armed groups."
"The cessation of armed violence is therefore clearly incomplete," Ban said, adding that both sides say they are committed to ending the "violence in all its forms."
Diplomats on the 15-nation council say Ban's report and a briefing they will receive from U.N.-Arab League mediator Kofi Annan's deputy, Jean-Marie Guehenno, on Thursday at 9:00 a.m. (1300 GMT) will be crucial in determining whether the conditions are right for deploying a larger monitoring mission to Syria.
U.S. and European diplomats on the council have suggested that Syria's lack of full compliance with its obligations to end the violence might make it difficult for them to support a new resolution that would be needed to deploy an expanded observer mission.
'OPPORTUNITY FOR PROGRESS'
The Security Council approved a resolution on Saturday that authorized the deployment of an advance team of up to 30 unarmed observers to Syria. It was the first council resolution on the Syria crisis that China and Damascus' close ally, Russia, did not veto. They vetoed two earlier resolutions.
On the subject of Damascus' partial compliance with Annan's peace plan, Ban said, "It does not amount yet to the clear signal expected from the Syrian authorities."
"I remain deeply concerned about the gravity of the situation in the country," Ban said. "However, without underestimating the serious challenges ahead, an opportunity for progress may now exist, on which we need to build."
Ban said the violence had decreased in recent days since a shaky April 12 truce came into force. He said a monitoring force would be helpful in securing an end to all fighting, although it was essential the conditions be right for its deployment.
"Developments since 12 April underline the importance of sending a clear message to the authorities that a cessation of armed violence must be respected in full, and that action is needed on all aspects of (Annan's) six-point (peace) plan," he said.
"At the same time the very fragility of the situation underscores the importance of putting in place arrangements that can allow impartial supervision and monitoring," he said.
An advance team of monitors in Syria had visited the town of Deraa and "enjoyed freedom of movement" there, Ban said. But he noted that "the team's initial request to visit Homs was not granted, with officials claiming security concerns."
Ban said that what would initially be a 300-strong observer force "would be deployed incrementally over a period of weeks, in approximately ten locations throughout Syria." It would be called UNSMIS. He said an earlier U.N. proposal of 250 observers was insufficient.
"It would be a nimble presence that would constantly and rapidly observe, establish and assess facts and conditions on the ground in an objective manner, and engage all revelant parties," he said.
Annan's peace plan calls for an end to fighting by government security forces and rebels, withdrawal of heavy weapons from towns, return of the army to barracks, humanitarian access and dialogue between the government and opposition aimed at a "political transition" for the country.
Ban also said that there had been "no substantive progress" in negotiations for humanitarian access in Syria.
(Reporting By Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Peter Cooney)
Gunfire in Syrian town
during U.N. visit
By Dominic Evans and Oliver Holmes
BEIRUT, April 18 (Reuters) - Shooting broke out in a Syrian town on Wednesday during a visit by United Nations monitors overseeing a ceasefire brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan, pro-government media and activists said.
Six U.N. observers travelled to Erbin escorted by Syrian police cars and were mobbed by flag-waving demonstrators protesting against President Bashar al-Assad.
Activist amateur video footage, allegedly filmed in Erbin in Damascus province, showed two white cars with U.N. markings surrounded by anti-Assad protesters.
There was a loud bang, the protesters fled, and the camera moved to show dust rising in front of the first car before the sound of sirens as the vehicles sped away.
In Damascus, head of the U.N. advance monitoring team Colonel Ahmet Himmiche denied the cars had been fired upon.
"No, we did not come under fire in Erbin," he told Reuters TV.
Another activist video from Erbin showed Himmiche walking through the tight throng wearing a U.N. blue beret and flak-jacket and getting into his vehicle where he spoke on a loud-hailer, apparently asking the crowd to move back and let the cars move out.
A banner held by one of the protesters read: "The butcher continues killings, the observers continue observing, and the people continue with their revolution. We only bow to God."
Syria's state Ikhbariya television channel said a "terrorist group" had also planted a bomb at a checkpoint, wounding a member of the Syrian security forces.
Another Internet video which activists said was filmed in Erbin showed a crowd of people running down a street with the sound of automatic weapons fire in the background.
There are as yet only half a dozen U.N. monitors in Syria, led by Himmiche. On Tuesday, they made a trip south to the city of Deraa apparently without incident.