Kofi Annan may cancel Syria meeting
More talk, still no action on Syria at the UN. The Security Council got yet another briefing on Tuesday, this time from the Deputy Special Envoy Nasser al-Kidwa.
His boss, Kofi Annan, has been harping on the need for international unity and complaining that various countries were undermining his efforts with their individual "initiatives". But it doesn't seem to be having any effect.
Annan is trying to organise a high-level meeting involving all of the relevant countries for this Saturday in a last-ditch effort to salvage his peace plan – but Al-Kidwa told the council he wasn't going to bother unless they could agree on some basic principles and guidelines first.
Annan wants to get the process for a political transition in Syria rolling. Al-Kidwa warned council members that "an action group must be just that and not a talking shop".
But after the meeting it appeared nothing had changed in the Security Council. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the Russians were all on board for the meeting, but downplayed the need for an agreement first.
The Russians say the international community does not have the right to impose "regime change" on Syria and continue to block any punitive action against the Syrian government and President Bashar al-Assad.
"Our view is clear," Churkin said. "It is the Syrians themselves who need to work things out."
He accused other countries of "playing hard to get" by not committing to the Annan meeting. Annan wants Iran, with its influence on Syria, to be involved. The United States is against it.
Annan will announce on Wednesday whether or not he is holding the meeting.
None of the other Ambassadors came in front of the cameras but the French and the British are still talking tough about a new Chapter 7 Security Council resolution, either threatening sanctions or imposing them outright on the Syrian government unless it honors the cessation of hostilities negotiated by Annan and endorsed by the Security Council.
But everybody knows the Russians, and probably the Chinese, will just veto it.
In the meantime, the UN monitoring mission remains sidelined by the violence. Undersecretary General for Peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous, also told the council the Syrian government has been blocking the observers' use of satellite phones, which they consider essential to doing their jobs.
The UN is in the process of considering the mission's next steps.
For now, however, when it comes to Syria the UN remains paralysed.