Syrian dissident and tribal chief Nawaf al-Bashir warned Tuesday that the struggle against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime will be radicalized if the U.N. Security Council fails to act.
“We want an immediate end to this terror orchestrated for 40 years by a single party,” the Baath Party which has ruled Syria for more than four decades, said Bashir, the head of Syria’s largest tribe who fled into exile.
“But if that doesn’t happen, if the Security Council does not take the necessary decisions, then Syria’s revolutionaries and the Free Syrian Army will be forced to act for themselves,” he said in translated remarks.
“The choice before the Syrian people is victory or death,” he told a press conference in Istanbul.
The Turkey-based Syrian Free Army, established by Colonel Riyadh al-Asaad, claims to have gathered some 40,000 fighters under its command since an anti-regime revolt broke out in Syria in mid-March.
“The Syrian Free Army is our representative, it represents the people. We ask that it be supplied with all possible logistic aid,” added Bashir, leader of the Bakkara tribe, which he says has 1.5 million members.
The tribal chief also criticized the Arab League observer mission to Syria.
“The Arab League has been unable to achieve its goals, our brothers and sons continue to be killed in front of our eyes. We want (Syria’s) case to be transferred to the U.N. Security Council now.”
Bashir said he fled to Turkey last week “through mountain roads” because he had been threatened with arrest after spending 72 days in prison last year.
Long overdue and inadequate
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Tuesday that a U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria was “long overdue”, but it was unlikely Russia would let the U.N. body take any serious action.
Hague said he had asked the Arab League to come to the United Nations and suggest a way forward in the crisis over Assad’s 10-month crackdown on protests.
“I believe the time is long overdue for the U.N. Security Council to be able to speak on Syria and speak with a united voice,” Hague told lawmakers in the House of Commons.
“When we last tried this on October 4 our resolution was vetoed by Russia and by China. I am not optimistic that that would be a different situation with regard to Russia at the moment.
“But we will continue to discuss that with Russia and I think it would be helpful if the Arab League came directly to the Security Council.”
Hague’s comments came shortly after France and Germany said that a new Russian draft resolution at the Security Council on the Syrian crisis was inadequate.
It was “very far from responding to the reality of the situation in Syria”, where Assad’s crackdown on protests has left thousands of people dead, French foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said.
France wants the Security Council to demand that the Syrian regime end repression, respect the rights of the Syrian people, and back the Arab League plan to end the crisis, he said.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also said the draft did not go far enough.
“In our view, the United Nations Security Council needs to deal again with the situation in Syria,” he said in a statement.
“The latest Russian draft resolution does not, in our view, go far enough, although I welcome the fact that other partners, including Russia, are beginning to show some movement in their position.
“What is important in our view is a clear and unambiguous condemnation of the violence committed by the Assad regime. We will push further for this.
“The talks in New York are intensifying. We Europeans are pushing for the U.N. Security Council to take a common position on Syria.”
Russia produced the draft on Monday after facing weeks of criticism over the slow pace of talks, diplomats said.
Western diplomats, however, said there was no apparent change in the Russian position opposing any strong U.N. action against Assad’s crackdown.
Russia and China vetoed a European resolution on Syria in October, calling it a move by Western nations toward regime change in Syria.
Russia proposed its own resolution in December but Britain, France, Germany and the United States have said the text is not acceptable because it puts opposition violence on the same level as the government’s assault.
Diplomats said the latest text distributed by Russia will be discussed by experts on Tuesday.
The new text, however, only takes the existing Russian resolution and adds a list of amendments proposed by the European nations and the United States.